The following list offers some of the greatest Salsa songs ever recorded. This compilation does not pretend to be a fixed ranking but rather an opportunity to explore the particular sounds that have shaped Salsa music. I hope this list of top Salsa songs helps you to discover the essence of one of the most vibrant rhythms in Latin music.
10. Joe Cuba Sextet & Cheo Feliciano - "El Raton"
An iconic song in Salsa music, "El Raton" offers a soft piano introduction that brings an air of mystery to a melody that soon after becomes an authentic ecstasy of sounds. A wonderful track to fully appreciate the talent of Cheo Feliciano, one of the best singers in Salsa history.
9. Gilberto Santa Rosa - "Conciencia"
Even though modern Salsa tends to be quite different from the old classic stuff, there are artists who still preserve the rhythm's original flavor. One of these artists is Gilberto Santa Rosa and his single "Conciencia" is an expression of the artist's attention to keep up the essence of Salsa music. "Conciencia" was the song that made Gilberto Santa Rosa a Salsa superstar.
8. Justo Betancourt - "P'a Bravo Yo"
If there is a song that achieved everything Salsa is about, this song is "P'a Bravo Yo." With the marvelous voice of the Cuban singer Justo Betancourt, "P'a Bravo Yo" is an explosion from beginning to end. Without any doubt, one of the greatest Salsa songs in history.
7. La Sonora Ponceña - "Yambeque"
An institution in Salsa music, La Sonora Ponceña has been shaping the sounds of Salsa since the 1950s. "Yambeque" is one of the top Salsa songs this Puerto Rican band has produced. Look out for the percussion solo improvisation in the middle of it.
6. Oscar D'Leon - "Lloraras"
The 'Lion of Salsa,' Oscar D'Leon is Venezuela's best Salsa singer and one of the greatest voices of this rhythm. "Lloraras" is a short song with an exuberant beat that keeps you dancing from beginning to end.
5. Fania All Stars - "Quitate Tu"
In a way, "Quitate Tu" became the song that covered everything that the Fania All Stars did. This single brought together the best voices of the Fania phenomenon and became one of the greatest Salsa songs especially after the live performance the band delivered at the legendary Cheetah in New York City.
4. Ismael Rivera - "Las Caras Lindas"
Known as 'El Sonero Mayor,' Ismael Rivera is considered one of the best voices in Salsa music. His particular voice and his honest, simple way of singing allowed Rivera to create a brand around himself. "Las Caras Lindas," a single that highlights the pride of his Afro-American roots, is by far one of his most popular Salsa songs.
3. Hector Lavoe - "Mi Gente"
To many, Hector Lavoe is considered the most important Salsa singer in history. His unique nasal voice and the feeling he used to incorporate into his songs made of him one of the greatest personalities in Salsa. One of his most famous hits is "Mi Gente," a song that captured Salsa fans all over the world.
2. El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico - "El Menu"
There is a reason why El Gran Combo is known as 'The University of Salsa.' Decades of great music has transformed this Puerto Rican band in one of the most beloved names in Salsa. "El Menu" consolidated the musical sound of this group and it is always considered among the band's top Salsa songs.
1. Ruben Blades - "Pedro Navaja"
Over the years, "Pedro Navaja" has been considered by many as one of the greatest Salsa songs ever recorded. In fact, Salsa critics usually treat this single as an important step in the evolution of Salsa music. "Pedro Navaja" is probably the best story ever told in a Salsa single and the musical progression that goes along with the lyrics is plain fantastic.
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