This week, the music video to the vastly overplayed Spanglish summer hit “Despacito” bypassed “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth as the most-watched YouTube video of all time, according to TechCrunch.
The most watched YouTube video of all time.
That means that more than cat videos, more than baby videos, more than people skating off of things and into things and into each other, more than any type of challenge video ever, more than pranks – people want to watch/listen to the song that’s already permeated every club, bar, restaurant, and even the occasional grocery store within a 6,000 mile radius.
I’ve been all over the place this summer. Whether I was on a beach in Nice, France, in a pool hall in Santa Cruz, California, or at a karaoke bar in Boston, Massachusetts, whenever the song’s signature Spanish guitar-esque opening riff pierced the air, at least 5-10 people in the nearby vicinity would let out a seemingly involuntary shriek and start grinding on each other.
It’s true that reggaeton is one of the most grind-inducing genres out there. If you’re not exactly sure what reggaeton is, keep reading. I’m about to name-drop a bunch of tunes that are going to have you low key twerking in your cubicle in like, T-minus 70 seconds.
I’ve been listening to reggaeton for literally a decade. My MySpace page’s theme song was – appropriately – MySpace by Don Omar ft. Wisin y Yandel, my first Zune contained more Spanish songs than English ones, and my friend Laurel and I stayed up all night one Saturday in high school eating popovers and watching the Daddy Yankee movie on the edge of our seats (it’s called Talento de Barrio, and it’s exactly what you think it is).
Given my Reggaeton Résumé, I am (albeit irrationally) a little pissed off that of all the great reggaeton songs out there, the one song that people apparently want to listen to the most, although it does involve the aforementioned reggaeton legend Daddy Yankee, also exists in an almost-as-popular version that features J-Beibs, and I really hope I don’t have to explain why that’s upsetting.
And, yes. Before you even think it. I am a white girl. Great, now that’s out of the way.
It should be noted that reggaeton is a huge genre. This is in no way intended to be a list of “the best” reggaeton tracks, just…reggaeton tracks that are better than Despacito. So like, all of them. But these are some of the best of the best.
Side note: just because a hip-hop song has some words in Spanish does not automatically make it a “reggaeton song.” Reggaeton is classified by the underlying beat you’ll hear in all of these. This means that no, Pitbull is not a reggaeton artist.
Without further ado (the following is to be read in a corny announcer voice): “if you liked ‘Despacito,’ you’ll looove”…all of these much better songs listed below.
*in no particular order
1. Gasolina – Daddy Yankee
“Gasolina” is essentially Reggaeton Lite. Some of my fondest middle school dance memories have “Gasolina” as a soundtrack. If you are currently older than, say, 15 years old, there is no way you have not heard “Gasolina” at least 75 times. No matter how many times I’ve heard it, I still catch myself going “dalé WHOOP! Dalé gasoliiinaaa” along with DY at least once. I can’t help it. It’s just a thing that happens.
2. Dile – Don Omar
Although I said there is no order to this list, I did put Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, and Wisin y Yandel in the top 3 spots on purpose. They were all undeniably some of the absolute biggest names in reggaeton ten years ago and are still relevant today.
While varying in style from year to year, Don Omar’s tracks all have one thing in common: they make you shake your hips and wish you spoke Spanish (if you don’t already), and the 2003 track “Dile” is no exception.
3. Abusadora – Wisin y Yandel
I stressed out more than was probably necessary about which Wisin y Yandel song to put on here, because there are so many good ones. I chose this one because it exemplifies Wisin y Yandel’s style – an intense beat with sort of aggressive-sounding verses and then a surprisingly melodic chorus. Wisin y Yandel took a break from recording as a duo in 2013 in order to each pursue their own solo careers, and Yandel put out one of my current favorite jams, Nunca Me Olvides, in 2015.
4. Ven Bailalo – Angel Y Khris
Psssh. Angel y Khris, you don’t gotta tell me to “come dance,” by the time I hear the beginning of this song, I’m already doing it.
5. Oye Mi Canto – N.O.R.E. ft. Daddy Yankee, Gem Star, and Nina Sky
“Oye Mi Canto” by rapper N.O.R.E. was basically a reggaeton anthem as soon as it came out. It was originally released as a single in 2004, and later appeared on his only reggaeton album in 2006.
6. Danza Kuduro
While much different than Don Omar’s earlier songs (see #2), the 2010 hit “Danza Kuduro” has now become a reggaeton classic in its own right. It is also hands-down one of the happiest songs I have ever heard. Try to put on “Danza Kuduro” and also be in a bad mood. I dare you. It can’t be done. It’s also physically impossible to sit still while it’s playing.
This one is also close to my heart because it brings back memories of when I was 19, living in Guatemala, drunk off of Gallo and shout-asking “como se llama este canción???” at people whenever it came on in the club, because I loved it desperately and wanted to be able to listen to it on my own accord. Googling “oy yoy yoy” had not been super helpful in providing me with a title. Shock.
7. Si No Le Contesto – Plan B
Plan B has lots of bangers, but my hands-down favorite is “Si No Le Contesto”…probably partly because it also reminds me of being 19 and drunk off of Gallo in a club. Guatemala was a good time. But also, this song is insanely catchy. If you’re into it, check out some of their other stuff.
8. Rompe – Daddy Yankee
Anyone else remember this one from middle school dances? It was usually played somewhere in between Gasolina and Candy Shop. There was probably a Sean Paul song thrown in there somewhere too.
There’s also a remix with several members of G-Unit, which also contains more English, but I like the Spanish version a lot better.
9. Reggaeton Latino – Don Omar ft. Fat Joe, N.O.R.E. and LDA
This is a straight up reggaeton classic. If you’re feeling it, peep the original that’s just Don Omar, not ft.-ing anybody. The verses sound a lot different, but the beat and the chorus are basically the same.
10. Lo Que Paso Paso – Daddy Yankee
“Lo Que Paso Paso” combines a reggaeton beat with a bachatón feel, making it extra extra dance-y. (Bachatón = bachata + reggaeton, and bachata refers to a genre of music that sounds something like this.)
11. Atrevete Te Te – Calle 13
“Atreve Te Te” by Puerto Rican rap duo Calle 13 is about as far as you can get from “Despacito” while still loosely being in the same genre. This raunchy track was released a full three years before the Beibs was singing his very first cover song on YouTube. (See also: “Vamo Animal“).
12. Pasarela – Daddy Yankee
Released eight whole years after “Gasolina,” this song has a much different sound than earlier DY tracks, but it’s so damn catchy. The word pasarela means “runway” in Spanish, and the beat will have you strutting to the damn grocery store like you’re walking on a catwalk. Oh, that’s just me? Oh. K. Cool.
13. Estrellita de Madrugada – Daddy Yankee ft. Omega El Fuerte
You know how I said reggaeton is a huge genre? There’s the upbeat, pop-y “Danza Kuduro” that have you happily prancing around your apartment. Then there’s songs like “Estrellita de Madrugada” that have you booty-popping so aggressively that you’re sore afterwards. Boom, case closed.
14. No Hay Igual – Nelly Furtado ft. Calle 13
Did you guys know Nelly Furtado has a reggaeton song? Well, she does, and it slaps. Also, Calle 13’s part is fire. Syrop de banana.
15. Perdoname – La Factoria ft. Eddy Lover
Aside from being impossibly catchy, this 2007 song is cool because it’s essentially a conversation between Eddy Lover and the Panamanian musical group La Factoría. Eddy Lover sing-begs La Factoría to forgive him for whatever he did (he doesn’t make it super clear), and La Factoría rap-agrees to give him a second chance.
16. More – Zion and Ken Y ft. Jory
The chorus of “More” is essentially one big Spanglish play on words. The line is “pues toma para que te enamores,” which means something along the lines of “so take that to make you fall in love.” They repeat the end of enamores (pronounced mor-ay) so it’s like they’re saying “more,” making the line, “so take that to make you fall in love more.” But, the word for “more” in Spanish is obviously not “more,” so by putting an English word and keeping the English meaning, but pronouncing it like a Spanish word, Ken-Y, Jory and Zion are just being super clever.
Unless, of course, I am wrong. It’s entirely possible that I’m completely wrong and hearing word play where there is none, just because I love word play, and they’re just saying the end syllable of “enamores” a couple times for effect. In either case, it’s really fun to sing “zippy zippy zippy zippy zippy” along with Zion.
17. Lejos de Aqui – Farruko
I’ve just accepted that it’s physically impossible for me to listen to this song with headphones in public and not sing “quítate la ropa encima de mi” out loud, which has elicited very startled glances from other people walking down the street.
This isn’t Farruko’s most popular song by a long shot, but it’s my favorite. “Chillax,” a collab with Bob Marley’s son Ky-Mani Marley, is a close second. Even though there’s no lines about taking off ones’ clothing whilst on top of people.
18. Borro Cassette – Maluma
No, this is not a song about how Maluma accidentally erased his cassette tapes. I’m not going to translate the phrase “borro cassette” because I’ve heard different definitions, and I’m not a native Spanish speaker, so I don’t want to mess it up. What I do know is, this song is about a girl who gets wasted one night, hooks up with someone and can’t remember anything the next day. Also, the music video is awesome, and you should hop on YouTube and give it a few views to make up for all the people who are watching the “Despacito” video instead.
19. 6 a.m. – J. Balvin ft. Farruko
Hey! This is another song about getting super drunk and not remembering anything the next day! And it’s almost as catchy as “Borro Cassette.” And it also has an entertaining video.
20. Ginza Remix – J. Balvin ft. Farruko, De La Ghetto, Nicky Jam, Arcangel, Daddy Yankee, Yandel, and Zion
Think of this song as the grand finale to this list. Eight artists with very different styles came together to bring you this super long and highly danceable track. Si necesitas reggaeton, dále.
It should be noted that I had a very difficult time limiting this list to only 20 songs. Think I missed one? Drop the link in the comments!