10 Essential Columbian Salsa Songs

Photo Courtesy World Music Network
Rough Guide to Salsa Colombia. Photo Courtesy World Music Network

Thanks to the generous musical production of the last four decades, Colombian Salsa has become one of the most popular styles within Salsa music, with most of that appeal having been nurtured by a unique movement capable of embracing both the original sound of Salsa and the modern, romantic beats of it.

To some extent, Salsa from Colombia has come to mirror the country's contrasting diversity. The following playlist, which includes both classic and contemporary hits, will help you to discover the true soul of Colombian Salsa.

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10. "Soledad" by La 33

Those who are into the classic beats of the so-called Salsa dura (hard Salsa) have embraced the music of La 33 from the very beginning. If you want to get a taste of the music produced by this band from Bogota, you need to listen to "Soledad," a fantastic track with amazing brass sessions that will make you sweat in the dance floor.

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9. "Juanita AE" by La Misma Gente

For over 30 years, this band has made a significant contribution to the sounds of Colombian Salsa, and thanks to "Juanita AE," La Misma Gente gained attention from local Salsa fans and beyond. Besides being an amazing track for dancing, "Juanita AE" also celebrates Christmas time with a couple of notes from the famous Spanish-language Christmas carol "Tutaina."

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8. "Escombros" by La Suprema Corte

Sometimes an artist does not need a huge repertoire to make history, merely a single song that will skyrocket the musician to fame, which was the case fo La Suprema Corte's "Escombros." Although this tune is first and foremost a romantic Salsa track, its sound is far from being a slow one.

That said, "Escombros" offers a good balance between the original sound of Salsa and the romantic style that has dominated this genre since the 1980s.  

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7. "Sobredosis" by Los Titanes

This track is not only a classic of Colombian Salsa but also a classic of the whole romantic Salsa movement in general.

In terms of its music, "Sobredosis" offers outstanding brass sessions shaped around the three trombones you can hear in the background. If you want to explore additional tracks from Los Titanes, another song I highly recommend from this band is "Por Retenerte."

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6. "Pa'l Bailador" by Joe Arroyo

The impact that Joe Arroyo had on Colombian Salsa was significant, but besides the tunes he built around his famous "Joeson" — an eclectic tropical mix responsible for producing hits such as "La Noche" and "Echao Pa' Lante" — Joe Arroyo's repertoire was mostly influenced by the beats of Salsa music. "Pa'l Bailador," a vibrant track from beginning to end, is one of Arroyo's  best Salsa songs.

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5. "El Preso" by Fruko y Sus Tesos

From the all-time pioneers of Salsa music in Colombia Fruko y Sus Tesos, this 1975 track has become one of the most influential songs of the local Salsa movement. In spite of its dramatic, almost depressing lyrics, the vibrant rhythm of "El Preso" ("The Prisoner") will make you sweat in the dance floor. An absolute classic of Colombian Salsa, you don't want to miss this unique track.

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4. "Verdades" by Hansel Camacho

This song can be defined by the following two adjectives: Romantic and timeless.

With its poetic lyrics and the nice vocals provided by Hansel Camacho, "Verdades" is by far one of the most romantic Salsa songs ever recorded by a Colombian artist. This timeless hit, which still gets significant airplay in radio stations across Colombia, offers a contrasting melody where the delicate notes of the piano fit perfectly the decisive sounds of the trumpets.

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3. "El Amor De Mi Vida "Se Fue"" by Grupo Gale

Led by the talented musician Diego Gale, this band from Medellin has been shaping the sounds of Colombian Salsa since 1989. "El Amor De Mi Vida "Se Fue"" is a track defined by the harmonious combination of every single instrument involved in this recording. This hit was included in the band's 2008 album "Autentico." 

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2. "Ay Amor Cuando Hablan Las Miradas" by Guayacan Orquesta

From Guayacan Orquesta, one of the most influential bands in the history of Colombian Salsa, this track is the top song of the band's contemporary repertoire.

Since 2006, when it was released with the album "Guayacan Xtremo," "Ay Amor Cuando Hablan Las Miradas" has been one of the most popular Salsa tracks produced in Colombia. Look out for the amazing brass section and percussion featured in this song, perfect for any Latin party.

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1. "Cali Pachanguero" by Grupo Niche

Considering the enormous selection of hits produced by Grupo Niche, it is not an easy task to select the top song from Colombia's most acclaimed Salsa band. That said, however, hardly anyone will argue about the significant role played by "Cali Pachanguero" in the development of Colombian Salsa. With its vibrant rhythm, this track dedicated to the city of Cali, Colombia has conquered the world since its debut in 1984 on the legendary album "No Hay Quinto Malo." In terms of top Salsa from Colombia, "Cali Pachanguero" is as good as it gets.

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