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Use this playlist for your next Latin American vacation

Smiling Indian tourist with backpack using smartphone on urban street

Regardless of the genre, Latin American music has a way of seeping into your bones and pushing your limbs in ways you don’t expect. Even drunk at the club, unable to decipher Spanish (let alone your own name), you understand its demands.

“Move,” it says. “Shake,” it commands. “Yasssss,” you reply. And then you grind against a doorknob.

But what if your love of Latin American music extends beyond the dance floor? What if you want to feel the Spirit of Dance when you’re on the bus, the sidewalk, or the plane? In other words, what if you want a soundtrack to accompany your next Latin American vacation? You’ll need a playlist for that — and we’ve got you covered. 

This playlist is reggaeton and trap heavy, for sure, but these genres are what you’ll most often hear at the clubs. Most importantly, this playlist features artists from all over Latin America — from Mexico to Chile and back again. No matter what country you’re in, you’ll have a new native artist to discover. You’ll also be able to impress all the local hotties with your newfound musical knowledge. So, with no further ado, we present our playlist of Latin American bops. 

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: “Envolver,” Anitta

Not to be confused with Anetra, Anitta (a.k.a. “The Girl from Rio”) is the queer Brazilian hottie who’s taken over the music industry. Though the newly minted Grammy nominee has songs in English, Portuguese, and French, her Spanish language single “Envolver” was ubiquitous in clubs last year. You might still hear this sultry song occasionally in Tau Bar Club or Turma.

Medellín, Colombia: “Hawái,” Maluma & The Weeknd

We’re big fans of Maluma here, but few of his songs are as earnest as this collaboration with the Weeknd, in which Maluma sings of an ex who won’t stop posting about her new man on Insta. It’s a different side of the sexy singer, for sure, and its wistfulness will fill you with nostalgia as you stare out at the Colombian countryside. Pair it with either a trip to Guatapé or Cali coffee country, or an afternoon at El Castillo if you prefer to stay in Maluma’s hometown of Medellin. 

Barranquilla, Colombia: “La Tortura” and “Whenever, Wherever,” Shakira

Proudly born in Barranquilla, the home of the Gay Carnaval, Shakira is a shoo-in for any LA vacation playlist. While her more recent single “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53” expertly tackles her toxic ex, La Tortura precedes and equals it in both style and substance. “Whenever, Wherever” is also classic Shakira, and adds a bit of English to this otherwise Sportuguese playlist. Plus, its music video might give you even more wanderlust. Play it before you go out to Phuket or Lives in Barranquilla.

Buenos Aires, Argentina: “Miénteme,” TINI & Maria Becerra

We’d be lying if we told you that this reggaeton hit from Argentinian singers TINI and Maria Becerra isn’t a bop. “Lie to Me” makes unrequited love sound fun and will have you bobbing your head through the tears. It’s also a refreshing change from the classic rock jams and power ballads that have dominated Argentinian music in the past.

Mendoza, Argentina: “Perfecta,” Miranda!

If you’ve ever wondered what a Spanish-language Mika sounds like, you can stop wondering now! This bubbly alt-pop group has been putting out hits since the early aughts and continues to delight fans. Their music pairs quite well with a lazy wine-drenched afternoon, so maybe you can blast it from your rental car as you drive through Mendoza, Argentina’s wine country.

Santiago, Chile: “Tu Falta de Querer,” Mon Laferte

Before you go out for the night at Espacio Bunker or Club Divino, you’ll need a torch song to rally the troops. Thankfully, with its catchy tune, torturous longing, and sultry instrumentation, this iconic song will do the trick. You might even hear another Mon Laferte song after you’re out. After all, she has all the makings of a great queer icon: She’s unafraid to speak her mind, speaks up for the repressed, and can belt with the best of them.

Lima, Peru: “Agüita del Equilibrio,” Alejandro y Maria Laura

Popular Peruvian music is tough to pin down. In addition to taking inspiration from Latin, pop, Afro, and Andean sources, it never stops evolving. And as for the Peruvian duo Alejandro y Maria Laura, they often combine all those genres in their songs. But if you’re looking for a funky, wistful indie-folk bop to listen to as you explore Lima, look no further than “Agüita del Equilibrio.” It’s perfect for those listless afternoons spent exploring Barranco’s coffee shops and galleries like Felicia & Domingo and Dédalo.

San Juan, Puerto Rico: “Solo de Mi”, Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny is a man of many talents: He can make you contemplate your life choices even as he makes you dance. And while “Solo de Mi” is one of the maybe-queer Puerto Rican singer’s more somber trap singles, it can still get you swaying your hips. Its bold lyrics about oppression and staying true to yourself will resonate with queer listeners.

Mexico City, Mexico: “MAMIII,” KAROL G and Becky G

These two divas might have been trolling the world when they decided to do this duet together. No one could get their names straight even before this song, and the song certainly didn’t help. With their powers combined, they became a sort of Captain Planet of confident female energy, gaining a whole new legion of queer fans in the process. Honeys, “MAMIII” is a certified bop. But if you need help telling Becky G and Karol G apart, remember: One is Mexican-American, and the other is Colombian. Which is which, you ask? Ugh, stop making my head hurt. I already told you that I have no idea!

Florianópolis, Brazil / “Só Os Loucos Sabem,” Charlie Brown Jr.

This Brazilian rock group comes recommended by Drag Queen Extraordinaire Pabllo Vittar (more on her later), so don’t get turned off by the Tom Petty vibes. This is one of those top-down, head-back, summer afternoon jams that seems perfect for a Brazilian road trip from Florianópolis to Curitiba.

São Paulo, Brazil: “Follow Me,” Pabllo Vittar & Rina Sawayama

If you don’t know who these queens are, learn, honey. Pabllo Vittar is the Brazilian answer to RuPaul, and even came for the latter’s crown at one point. She was also the first drag queen to ever perform at Coachella. As for Rina, this “Chosen Family” singer has been flying under the radar for far too long. Still, you’re bound to hear at least one Vittar song if you go out to Blue Space or Tunnel in São Paulo. And if it’s this infectious, vogue-inspired dance floor bop, count yourself lucky.

Cartagena, Colombia: “Telepatía,” Kali Uchis

Though Kali is one of Colombia’s more alternative exports, she continues to produce hypnotic hits like “Telepatía.” Listen to it in one of the many quirky cafés of Getsemani (see: Beiyu) or on the white sand beaches of Isla Tierra Bomba. Its subtle beat belies its powerful lyrics.

Bariloche, Argentina: “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 36,” Nathy Peluso

This hip-hop single holds nothing back; it displays Argentinian export Nathy Peluso in all of her naughty glory. It’s the kind of song you’d hear on Elite during one of the party scenes – and it’s also perfect for a night in Barichara. The Swiss-themed ski town in southern Argentina is known for its Gen Z-heavy parties and crunchy, gay, sweaty hikers.

Caracas, Venezuela: “Ojos Marrones,” Lasso

This heart-rending, dramatic ballad is unavoidable in Latin America right now. It’s playing in bars, cafés, shopping malls, and even buses. There’s just something about the Venezuelan singer Lasso that makes people relate to his heartbreak. Is he the Venezuelan Taylor Swift? No. Taylor Swift is the Venezuelan Taylor Swift. But this song could be your soundtrack in Venezuela if you ever decide to go. While Caracas has an unfair reputation for being violent and inhospitable, it’s actually becoming more friendly towards tourists and even has a couple of gay spots.

Salvador, Brazil: “Maldivas,” LUDMILLA

If Anitta is Brazil’s Beyoncé, then Ludmilla is its Rihanna. She’s always putting out bangers and never meets a note she can’t belt. This duet with Júlio Sereno is a lovely showcase of her musical and songwriting talents and a relaxing balm for the nerves. In other words, it’s perfect for a sojourn in Salvador. The tranquil beach paradise in northern Brazil is a great place to lay out in the sun and reflect upon all the countries you’ve visited.

And if you just visited all the countries in this playlist, then that’s a lot.

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