2023 has turned out to be a monumental year for música mexicana. Global sensation Peso Pluma became the first Mexican artist in history to christen the MTV VMA stage with a stirring orchestral version of “Lady Gaga” and became the first corridos singer to make it onto The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon with his band’s performance of the wildly popular TikTok hit “Ella Baila Sola,” while sierreño acts DannyLux and all-women trio Conexión Divina brought their music to the Coachella masses. Even Latine trap titan Bad Bunny couldn’t help himself and dabbled in the sounds of cumbia alongside Texas-based breakout stars Grupo Frontera on “un x100to,” proving that regional Mexican music as a whole continues to outgrow its geographically limited phrasing rapidly.
However, this unprecedented fervent interest in the folkloric genre came with some pushback: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was vocal about his disapproval of corridos tumbados, and government officials went as far as attempting to ban what they described as violence-promoting performances in the homeland. While corridos tumbados and their subject matter continue to be a huge source of contention, rising acts like Yahritza Y Su Esencia and Eslabon Armado tapped into the genre’s more romantic roots with their viral hits as streaming numbers skyrocketed, perhaps alluding to a shift in what’s next for corridos and regional music’s worldwide momentum.
Here are our top 10 favorite corridos and regional Mexican songs of 2023.
– Nayeli Portillo
Grupo Frontera, Bad Bunny – “Un x100to”
A torch song for the digital age and yet another genre-defying crossover from el Conejo Malo, “Un x100to” was an inescapable slice of cumbia norteña that blasted everywhere from your tía’s cookout to the Coachella stage. Hot off the heels of their viral breakthrough with a cover of Morat’s tropi-pop smash “No Se Va,” Grupo Frontera formally showcased their nostalgic performing abilities on “Un x100to,” a titanic appetizer ahead of their blockbuster debut album El Comienzo. But even though securing a co-sign from the biggest pop star on the planet was enough to guarantee the song’s success, the symbolic sacrifice of cellphone battery so you can apologize to a jilted lover perfectly captures our terminally online times. That, plus the song’s undeniably catchy hook, all but cemented música mexicana’s tejana-clad takeover of the global pop charts. – Richard Villegas
Eslabon Armado, Peso Pluma – “Ella Baila Sola”
Two música mexicana phenomenons teamed up for the biggest song of the year. Mexican-American group Eslabon Armado joined forces with Mexican superstar Peso Pluma for the enchanting “Ella Baila Sola.” The band’s sad sierreño sound beautifully collided with the corrido swagger of Peso Pluma. The vocals of lead singer Pedro Tovar, who also wrote the song, and Peso Pluma complimented each other well as they harmonized about a captivating woman on the dance floor. Their combined powers and charm helped the song climb to an impressive No. 4 peak on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart. Eslabon Armado and Peso Pluma made música mexicana mainstream this year. — Lucas Villa
Peso Pluma, Gabito Ballesteros, Junior H – “LADY GAGA”
Peso Pluma’s defining signature requinto strings took Lady Gaga’s name to the música mexicana world this year. After the success of Peso, Gabito Ballesteros, and Junior H’s “El Tsurito,” it was no surprise that the magic trio had another collaboration up their sleeves that highlighted the perfect formula that would elevate their respective careers. Though they’ve previously worked with each other multiple times, the Mexican artists came together to deliver what would be one of this year’s favorite sierreño anthems that boasts a classic corrido tumbado luxurious narrative of money and drugs but with the sweet touch of a head-over-heels lover’s POV. The cherry on top? Echoing choral-like croons that’ll have you randomly vocalizing to the song’s melody. Moreover, “LADY GAGA” was such a hit that it became the first música mexicana track to ever be performed at the MTV VMAs stage. And what better way to chronicle the moment than with surprising, menacing violins a la Vivaldi before landing on a soothing and elegant reimagined intro to the Génesis single, showing exactly how immaculate and diverse a música mexicana track can be experienced when finally given the moment to shine. – Jeanette Hernandez
Yahritza y Su Esencia, Grupo Frontera – “Frágil”
One of the most unexpected collaborations of the year happened between Yahritza y Su Esencia and the Grupo Frontera. The Mexican-American groups teamed up for the heartbreak banger “Frágil.” Música mexicana hit-maker Édgar Barrera masterfully blended together the sad sierreño soul of Yahritza y Su Esencia with Grupo Frontera’s cumbia norteña sound. Yahritza Martinez and Grupo Frontera’s Adelaido “Payo” Solís III have two of the genre’s strongest voices, and together, they sounded incredible. The combined power of their emotional performances helped push the song to No. 69 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart. Even Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) sang his praises for this captivating collaboration. — Lucas Villa
Dariell Cano, DannyLux – “Quiero”
“Quiero” is a feat for what’s been dubbed as “sad sierreño,” the more tenderhearted subgenre within the world of regional Mexican music that continues to outpace itself. Often tinted with subtle alternative rock influences and set to the backdrop of shimmering acoustic riffs and lush chords, sad sierreño songs usually take the form of agonizing tales of unrequited love or glowing love letters, and “Quiero” — the intoxicatingly romantic corrido from newcomer Dariell Cano and acclaimed young crooner DannyLux — is a little bit of both, making it one of the biggest standout releases of this year. First previewed on Cano’s Amor Variado EP, the 2023 edition of “Quiero” rings brighter and boasts even more delicate guitar tones than its original as the duo swoons softly over their respective paramours. – Nayeli Portillo
Becky G, Chiquis – “CUIDADITO”
Becky G’s 200 percent-er música mexicana album ESQUINAS was one of this year’s most highly-anticipated LPs. And with reason, too — the Mexican-American superstar dials back her sensual popetón to deliver one of her most authentic and personal musical works yet. In “CUIDADITO,” she is joined by the música mexicana artist Chiquis, where they embrace a playful, traditional norteño that tells the story of what would happen if their partners cheated on them. The Mexican-American duo fantasizes about breaking car windows, getting over their ex-lovers through a drunken night, and even calling their suegras to talk crap about who she gave birth to – but thank God they later confess the infidelity was just a bad dream. If this chingona energy seems familiar, it’s because it might remind you of Chiquis’ late mother Jenni Rivera, who was undoubtedly a pioneer of unapologetic women in the música mexicana scene (especially in the outro when Chiquis says, “Mhm, don’t get it twisted, fool”). Together, Becky and Chiquis detail their vengeful outcome to the ancient saying, “Sobre aviso no hay engaño [There is no deception if there is a warning],” and let’s just say it’s a reminder to not mess with two leading and badass ladies of the explosive genre. – Jeanette Hernandez
Estevie – “Como Yo”
At just 20 years old Sarah Silva, aka Estevie, can already say she’s spent over 10 years dedicating her all to her music. But the release of September’s Cumbialicious EP marked an exciting new chapter for the Los Angeles artist. The Mexican-American singer spoke about her admiration for trendsetters like Grupo Limite’s Alicia Villareal in an interview with Remezcla earlier this year, so understandably, “Como Yo” harkens back to sounds of late ‘90s cumbias norteñas that continue to ring in the ears of millennials and Gen Z-ers alike. But rather than dish out a carbon-copy sound using the exact same formula, Estevie delivered an unmistakably catchy, pop-flecked romantic ballad that tastefully takes aim at her love interest’s new beau. No one, especially this (temporary) new flame, could ever love him like she could, Estevie reminds us, as she belts out gut-wrenching line after line. – Nayeli Portillo
Junior H, Peso Pluma – “El Azul”
While corridos continued to reign supreme in Latine music in 2023, few others had such amazing showings as Junior H and Peso Pluma, and “El Azul” proved their strengths as performers and personalities. Of course, Doble P became the poster boy for the crossover potential of the genre, as well as Junior blossoming into the hero of those in the know. Both singers exchanged lines in “El Azul,” bringing us their perspective around their reality, triumphantly declaring that “bélicos ya somos, bélicos morimos.” Junior gave us his calm yet calculated charisma to the mix, while Peso exuded his devil-may-care charm through his lines. Switching between ponderous sierreño verses and double time rhythms on the chorus, the track morphed a tale of business and violence into a party anthem and back again, which in turn made it a prime example of why this style of music has gone on to conquer the world. — Marcos Hassan
Conexión Divina – “Anestesia”
While the split seemed amicable, fans were surprised by the sudden departure of one of the all-women sierreño trio Conexión Divina’s guitarist and founding member Ashlee Valenzuela back in September. “Anestesia” marks what is easily the original lineup’s finest moments across their debut album, Tres Mundos, because it’s a heavy dose of straight-up gutting música melancólica. A somber chord progression spliced with Valenzuela’s rattling, arpeggiated style and Calixto’s vivid, rumbling basslines bubble at the surface as the Trujillo spills her heart after getting burned by an all-consuming love in her signature earthy croons: “Me veo al espejo como si estuviera viva/ Pero adentro hay hielo y no sana esta herida.” – Nayeli Portillo
Oscar Maydón, Junior H – “Fin De Semana”
Corridos have grown a reputation of being capable of being both party music and a soundtrack for taking care of business. “Fin De Semana” was one of the songs that, although not exempt from mentioning the looming violence around it, is all about the prospect of having fun. The song gave us what Junior H and Oscar Maydón think is the best way to ask a girl out, telling her about everything that’ll happen when they hang out, promising nothing but a good time during the upcoming weekend. The devil is found in the details, though, as they both say in the lyrics that they won’t beg for their prospective date to accept their invitation, implying that others are waiting for this kind of treatment and that fun will be had regardless, giving us a glimpse of their boasting even at their most romantic. Corridos are having the best moment as a genre, and songs like “Fin De Semana” sound like a victory lap not only for the artists involved but for the entire genre. — Marcos Hassan