Latin Genres of Music You Need to Know

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


From Bachata to Bolero, and everything in between, check out this guide to some of the most popular Latin genres of music!


Though often used interchangeably, the terms Hispanic and Latino actually refer to two distinct groups of people.Hispanic refers to someone who speaks Spanish and is descended from a Spanish-speaking country, while Latino refers to someone whose ancestors come from a Latin American country, regardless of language spoken. That said, both groups are united by their shared Latin heritage, and this is especially evident in their music.

If you’re a fan of Latin music, chances are you’ve heard of or even danced to some of the following genres.

A style of Dominican music that originated in the countryside and rural neighborhoods of the country in the early 20th century, bachata peened as a result of the mingling of Afro-Caribbean rhythms with traditional Spanish guitar. Though it has undergone something of a transformation in recent years and now incorporates elements of hip-hop, R&B and pop, bachata is still largely defined by its dramatic storytelling, passionate lyrics and simple guitar melodies.

Some famous Bachata artists include Romeo Santos, Aventura and Prince Royce.

A lively blend of Jamaican reggae and dancehall with Latin American styles like bomba and plena, as well as hip-hop, reggaeton first emerged in Puerto Rico in the 1990s. Since then, it has become one of the most popular – and controversial – genres in Latin music, thanks to its catchy hooks, suggestive lyrics and danceable beats.

Reggaeton superstars include Daddy Yankee, Pitbull and J Balvin.

Another music style with Dominican roots, merengue is characterized by its fast tempo (usually around 220 beats per minute) and 2/4 time signature. Merengue percussion instruments include claves (two small pieces of wood that are struck together), maracas (shaken seed pods) and tambora (a large drum). The vocals are typically fast-paced and sung in a nasal style known as “voceo de tono”. Because it is so easy to dance to – even beginners can pick up the basic steps quickly – merengue is often played at weddings and other festive celebrations.

Considered one of the pioneers of modern merengue, Jose Manuel Calderon is credited with helping to bring the genre to new heights in the 1950s. Other well-known merengue artists include Juan Luis Guerra, Eddy Herrera and Sergio Vargas.

Latin pop
A catchall term for any kind popular music with Latin American origins (think Shakira, Ricky Martin), Latin pop encompasses a wide range of styles including balladry (romantic crooning), rock en español (Spanish-language rock) , synth-pop , Reggaeton , Bachata , Merengue and more. Essentially anything that’s popular on Spanish-language radio falls under this category. While some purists argue that Latin pop represents a bastardization or commercialization of traditionalLatin music styles, there’s no denying its widespread appeal – or its ability to cross over into the mainstream English-language market (just ask Shakira or Jennifer Lopez).

What is Latin music?

Latin music is a genre of music that comes from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. This type of music is very popular all over the world, and you can find it in many different styles. It is important to know about the different genres of Latin music so that you can find the style that you like the most.

The history of Latin music

The history of Latin music is often traced back to the fusion of African and European cultures in the late 19th century. This musical genre has its roots in Cuba, where Afro-Cuban musical styles were mixed with European influences, resulting in a new form of music known as son. From Cuba, son spread to other countries in Latin America, including Mexico and Puerto Rico. In the early 20th century, Latin music began to gain popularity in the United States, thanks to the rise of Cuban and Puerto Rican performers such as Xavier Cugat and Tito Puente.

As Latin music became more popular in the US, new genres emerged, including salsa and merengue. In the late 20th century, Latin music experienced a renewed interest from American audiences, thanks to the success of artists such as Gloria Estefan and Ricky Martin. Today, Latin music is enjoyed by people all over the world and continues to evolve as new artists bring their own unique styles to the genre.

The different genres of Latin music

Latin music is a catch-all term for music from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries. It includes a wide range of styles, from the traditional sounds of Mexico and Cuba to the more modern styles of Brazil and Argentina.

The two main genres of Latin music are salsa and mambo. Salsa is a fast-paced, high-energy style that originated in Cuba in the 1940s. Mambo is a slower, more smooth style that developed in Puerto Rico in the 1930s.

Other popular genres of Latin music include merengue, cha-cha, bolero, and cumbia. Merengue is a fast-paced, upbeat style from the Dominican Republic that features horns and percussive instruments. Cha-cha is a slower, more sensual style of dance music from Cuba that gained popularity in the 1950s. Bolero is a romantic ballad style from Cuba that became popular in Mexico in the early 20th century. Cumbia is a folkloric style from Colombia that has roots in African and indigenous musical traditions.

There are many different genres of Latin music, and each one has its own unique history and style. Latin music is popular because it is a fusion of many different cultures and styles. It is also a great way to get people moving and dancing.

The popularity of Latin music in the US

It would be impossible to deny the popularity of Latin music in the United States. Numerous artists have topped the Billboard charts in recent years, and the genre has only become more mainstream in recent years. But why is Latin music so popular?

There are a few factors that contribute to the popularity of Latin music. First, the Hispanic population in the United States has been growing rapidly in recent years. As of 2016, Hispanics made up 18% of the US population, and that number is only expected to grow in the coming years. This growing population has obviously helped increase the popularity of Latin music.

In addition, there has been a growing appetite for international sounds in the US music market. In a globalized world, people are increasingly exposed to music from all over the world, and they are often more open to new genres and sounds. This has certainly helped increase the popularity of Latin music in the United States.

Finally, it’s important to note that Latin music is quite diverse, which means there is something for everyone. From upbeat salsa and reggaeton to more traditional ranchera and mariachi, there is a Latin genre for every taste. This diversity obviously helps increase the popularity of Latin music among US listeners.

The popularity of Latin music in Europe

In recent years, Latin music has become increasingly popular in Europe. A wide variety of Latin genres are now played on radio stations and in nightclubs across the continent, and many European artists have begun to incorporate Latin influences into their own music.

There are several reasons for Latin music’s growing popularity in Europe. One is the increasing diversity of the continent’s population. In recent years, large numbers of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean have made their homes in Europe, and they have brought their music with them. As a result, European audiences are now exposed to a wider range of Latin genres than ever before.

In addition, the rise of social media and streaming platforms has made it easier for people to discover and share new music from around the world. This has had a particularly big impact on Latin music, which is often created by independent artists outside of the mainstream music industry. As more people are exposed to Latin genres through platforms like Spotify and YouTube, the popularity of these styles is only likely to continue to grow.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the popularity of Latin music in Europe is not just a recent phenomenon. In fact, many of today’s most popular Latin genres have their roots in European countries like Spain and Portugal. These styles were brought to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese colonists centuries ago, and they have since evolved into the distinct genres we know today. As such, there is a strong connection between Latin music and European culture that helps to make these styles even more popular on the continent.


To sum it all up, there are many different genres of Latin music out there, and each one has its own unique sound and history. If you’re a fan of Latin music, it’s worth taking the time to learn about the different genres and their origins. And if you’re not a fan of Latin music, maybe this article will have converted you!

Similar Posts