Mariachi describes not only a musical style but also a single band member in a mariachi group. A mariachi group usually features four or more musicians who sing and play musical instruments used in traditional folk music. These instruments include a five-string guitar, a bass guitar called the guitarrón, high-pitched trumpets, and violins.
Mariachi music—both modern and traditional, commonly have interesting backstories which give insight into the source of the inspiration behind the song. So we've taken the liberty of compiling a list of mariachi songs to give an idea of mariachi music's rich traditions and history.
Currently, mariachi groups have the flexibility to cover a wide array of music. Genres such as pop, rock, and more are all covered by mariachi groups. With that said, here are the best mariachi songs.
1. “El Son de la Negra” By Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán
Song year: 1998
El Son de la Negra is quite easily one of the most famous mariachi songs of all time. The song was made in 1940 by Blas Galindo, a musical composer. This song has become ingrained in Mexican culture and identity that it has become synonymous with its culture. This song is even regarded as Mexico's second national anthem.
The music is an upbeat and lively style known as son jalisciense, and this musical style is typically accompanied by dance referred to as the zapateado. This dance style matches the dancers' footwork with the beat of the music; the zapateado dancers strike against the ground in sync with the ground rhythm.
Admittedly, the lyrics are a bit sad; however, the song's upbeat tempo works well with the melancholy lyrics.
2. “Volver Volver” By Vicente Fernández
Song year: 1972
“Volver Volver” is a ranchera-style piece that incorporates trumpets and a beautiful vocal melody sung in a soft and low voice. The song is about wanting an old love interest back while coming to grips with the fact that it's impossible to turn around time. Many people can understand how it feels to question and wonder whether you made the right decision.
You wonder if fate would have that you would find that same love again. This song is thought-provoking and emotionally intriguing.
This song possesses all of the elements of an excellent mariachi song. There's a rawness about this ballad, and it's a commonplace for the most incredible folk music.
3. “México Lindo y Querido” By Vicente Fernandez
Song year: 2006
México Lindo y Querido is renowned for its call to patriotism and its ability to evoke nature—this happens to be a common trait for ranchera music. This song is composed with upbeat melodies, a waltz style with unexpected tempo changes, and compelling harmonies in a cappella.
More specifically, the lyrics speak of eternal love for Mexico, and it celebrates Mexico and all of its natural beauty. The song has the uncanny ability to conjure deep feelings of patriotism through the poignant and beautiful lyrics.
4. “Malagueña Salerosa” By Miguel Aceves Mejía
Song year: 1947
This song was initially written by different composers, Elpidio Ramírez and Pedro Galindo, but the most famous version of it ever recorded was covered by Miguel Aceves Mejía. It was covered by more than 200 different artists, including numerous mariachi bands.
The song is about a man who loves a woman and badly desires to be in a relationship with her. However, he knows that she wouldn't consider being with him because he's too poor. This gem of a song was written in the 1940s and will always be mentioned by mariachi royalty.
5. “La Bamba” By Ritchie Valens
Song year: 1958
La Bamba is the only song included in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of all time not to be sung in English. This song was so successful that it topped the UK and the US charts in 1987.
This song is perhaps the most recognizable song on this list as it pertains to tunes and melody, and it also has the distinction of being the only song on this list from East Mexico. This is a huapango-style song typically played during celebrations such as weddings, where dancing is a big part of the festivities.
6. “La Bikina” By Luis Miguel
Song year: 2000
La Bikina was written by Rubén Fuentes, who was a violinist of Mariachi Vargas De Tecalitlán in 1984. It has become a tremendously famous musical piece. This song owes most of its popularity to Luis Miguel, one of the most successful Latin music artists of all time.
Miguel adds his own unique touch to his rendition of this song; moreover, in his version, the music is accompanied by a large mariachi orchestra which elevates the song to a different level.
It is not uncommon to hear smaller bands play the song with a bit of intimacy which can get lost with the orchestras. The fact that you can play it both ways is one of the reasons it is one of the best mariachi songs of all time.
7. “Que Bonita es Mi Tierra” By Luis Miguel
Song year: 1967
Que Bonita es Mi Tierra happens to be a patriotic anthem and it was originally written by Rubén Fuentes in the 1940s. However, the most famous rendition of the song is performed by Javier Solís.
The song speaks about the beauty of the land and how it is the pride of the world. It mentions that God has draped this land in abundant blessings. You can find this song being played at numerous mariachi events because it has become a staple of Mexican pride.
8. “El Rey” By José Alfredo Jiménez
Song year: 1971
El Rey is a ranchera classic that a host of singers has performed. Jiménez wrote this song when he was depressed when he was breaking up with Alicia Juarez, a young artist and singer in her own right.
This song conveys defiance and a proclamation that the singer is still doing the best and is the best amongst his friends, even if his life has been rough and is slowly falling apart. Interestingly, this song carries a similar tone as that of the classic song “My Way” by Frank Sinatra.
9. “Las Golondrinas” By Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán
Song year: 1959
Las Golondrinas is an ethereal mariachi song that's sad and typically played at funerals. It speaks of saying goodbye to a person even as their soul is received in heaven. While it's sad, there's an element of hope that the person will be at rest and that they'll go to a better place than they were before.
Furthermore, there are different occasions that you can choose to use it for. Las Golondrinas is so excellent for New Year's Eve for saying goodbye to the previous year or for someone who's beginning a new stage of their life.
10. “¡Viva México!” By Pedro Galindo Galarza
Song year: 1988
Viva México has many renditions. The song has riveting lyrics, which eventually reach its dramatic climax of “Viva México, Viva América.” Mariachi singer Aida Cueva performs one of the most popular versions of this song.
Like many other mariachi songs, it conveys pride in Mexico and being happy about being a citizen of such a fine country. You'll often hear this song played during their September 16th celebrations and other Mexican pride festivals.
11. “La Llorona” By Ángela Aguilar
Song year: 2018
La Llorona is a song that is traditionally played on the Day of the Dead. The writer of this song is unknown; however, without question, the lyrics reference the famous Mexican story of “La Llorona.
The legend speaks of a crying ghost who has lost her children and searches for them perpetually in the river. Even though there are many versions of this song, the most popular version is performed by Chavela Vargas.
12. “Amor Eterno” By Juan Gabriel
Song year: 1990
Amor Eterno is one of those classic mariachi songs for moms, written by Juan Gabriel after his mom died. There's a lot of emotion behind this song, as many people can relate to the pain that one experiences from losing someone so integral to their life and development. Amor Eterno describes how the singer wishes that their mom's eyes had never closed and that they would still be able to see her and experience her eternal love.
The song has become quite popular, being played at funerals and memorial services to convey a deep sadness, emotion, and connection to the deceased. This ballad describes someone dealing with grief and depression due to their mother's passing and having to look in the mirror and confront how truly lost they feel.
13. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
Song year: 2013
While Happy by Pharrell isn't a traditional mariachi song, it is one of the most popular songs that modern mariachi bands have covered because of how easy it is to dance to and how catchy it is. During the 2010s, no radio station was playing this song, and no wedding reception or family reunion didn't include this song on their playlist.
The song was originally written for the soundtrack of an American film, Despicable Me, in which one of the characters, Gru, is always unhappy and grumpy. He eventually falls in love and is happier in the film's sequel. This scenario was the inspiration behind the song. It is amongst the most popular songs covered by mariachi bands today.
14. “Despacito” By Luis Fonsi
Song year: 2017
Despacito means slowly in English, and it is the perfect title for this song that is commonly covered by modern mariachi bands. This song works perfectly for the mariachi style, which dictates that you sing along and tap your feet to the traditional sounding tunes.
Despacito is a catchy song that describes a man out for a night of dancing that sees a girl that intrigues him. He flirts with her and takes her to the dance floor as he makes sensual gestures and remarks toward her to describe his desire to get to know her better.
15. “¿Quién será?” By Pablo Beltrán Ruiz and Luis Demetrio
Song year: 1953
“¿Quién será?” was originally written in 1953 by two Mexican composers, Luis Demetrio and Pablo Beltrán. However, it didn't become widely popular until it was recorded the following year, in 1954 by Dean Martin. The song has a mix of cha-cha-chá, mambo, and bolero roots, making it the perfect candidate for a mariachi band.
It discusses a man's infatuation with his dance partner and wanting to sway with her and become one on the dance floor. It's an upbeat song that gets you off your feet and is excellent to play at a wedding. The song has since been translated as “Sway” in English instead of its meaning, which is “Who will it be?” in Spanish.
16. “Las Mañanitas” By Vicente Fernández
Song year: 1988
“Las Mañanitas” is the Latin American version of Happy Birthday. This is the song that mariachi bands will usually perform at a birthday party for guests of all ages as the default birthday tune. Those that speak English typically sing a translated version of Las Mañanitas, but it's nothing like the original song!
In Mexican culture, it's common for a mariachi band to sing this song during the early hours of the morning on someone's birthday; that can be as early as 5 AM! While the band performs, guests will often light fireworks for a little extra noise. The lyrics mention that the song was previously sung to royalty, the likes of King David, and now it gets sung to everyone on their special day.
17. “La Mano de Dios” By José Alfredo Jiménez
Song year: 1962
This song is a positive and uplifting love story. Translated to mean God's Hand, La Mano de Dios talks about a love between two people that no one can break but God himself.
It's a beautiful declaration of passion and adoration between two people who can withstand everything except the one who created them both.
This music style reflects the type of romanticism often displayed in Latin American music. It's a common song played by mariachi bands at weddings and engagement parties.
18. “Acá Entre Nos” By Vicente Fernandez
Song year: 1992
Fernandez is widely known as one of the best songwriters of mariachi music. The song's name means “between you and me” in English, and it discusses a struggle that many can relate to, even if they don't want to admit it to others. The singer lies to his close friends to convince them that he isn't still in love with his ex-girlfriend.
While keeping up that facade, he confides in the girl to let her know that he never really stopped loving her, which remains a secret between the two. The song is sad in a romantic kind of way, as they don't seem like they will get back together, but there's the lingering thought of “what if?”. It seems like the perfect place to insert a grito! (Signature Mexican yell/cry in mariachi music to signify a celebration or intense emotion)
19. “Por Tu Maldito Amor” By Vicente Fernandez
Song year: 1989
“Por Tu Maldito Amor” is a heart-wrenching ranchera-style song that fits seamlessly within the mariachi genre. In the English version of the song, the meaning changes a little, illustrating that someone fell in love the day they found their soulmate.
However, the song is on the opposite end of the spectrum and sadly lets the listeners into how awful it feels to jump through hoops to pine for a love that isn't reciprocated. Essentially, one person is in love, and the other fails at their promise to adore one another. It's a truly sad song that makes you relate to the singer's desire to be loved.
20. “Mi Padre” By Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán
Song year: 1995
“Mi Padre” is one of the best mariachi songs for dads. The lyrics tell of a son who loves and adores his father, whom he has always admired and looked to as a good teacher. It discusses the love he observed between his parents and how he has at times observed his father be sorrowful but remain strong.
The singer conveys how much he views his father as a nobleman with an undeniable love for life and a good heart. This is a wonderful song to play for your father on his birthday or Father's Day. This song will bring tears to the eyes of even the most rugged dads!
21. “Madrecita Querida” By Vicente Fernandez
Song year: 1963
Vicente Fernandez has been featured on this list numerous times for his contributions to mariachi music and Mexican music. One of the most beautiful songs written, “Madrecita Querida,” is another of the best mariachi songs for moms.
To express your gratitude for the sacrifices a mom makes and to declare your love for your mother with such compelling instrumentals is a beautiful experience from start to finish.
Best Mariachi Songs In The World, Final Thoughts
Mariachi music is a beautiful style that means a lot to Mexican culture. It has permeated American society and other countries around the world with signature mariachi garb, sombrero hats, traditional instrumentals, and inspired lyrics. The songs on this list are the perfect requests if you hire a mariachi band to perform at a wedding, birthday party, or any other event where you want people to sing along or to get people off their feet or bring a smile to their faces.