Latin music genres have rapidly taken the world by storm over the last few years, from Puerto Rican reggaeton to Dominican dembow, and reimagining traditional sounds, such as regional Mexican music and Colombian cumbia. In 2022, Bad Bunny’s ‘World’s Hottest’ tour set the global record for the highest-grossing tour in a calendar year, earning more than $435 million.
In terms of bestselling albums, Latin music in the US is defined by both the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Billboard magazine as any release with 51% or more of its content recorded in Spanish.
The best performing Latin songs in the US have been compiled by Billboard since September 1986. The first Latin song to enter the Hot 100, when it was solely an overall chart, was Ritchie Valens’ version of ‘La Bamba’ in 1959. The Sandpipers’ ‘Guantanamera’ was the first to reach the Top 10, in 1966.
Puerto Rican singer Bad Bunny has the most Latin Top 10 entries on the Billboard chart and scored four of the year-end Hot 100 songs in 2022, including ‘Efecto’ and ‘Party’.
In Billboard’s 2018 roundup of the 100 best-performing songs since the chart started in 1958, ‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber was the sole Latin music entry – but we’re betting when they next compile the list, there’ll be plenty more. Plus, ‘Espacito’ is still the most-viewed music video of all time, with over eight billion views.
Which other albums have made waves over the past few decades? From Latin legend Julio Iglesias to Shakira, and newcomers such as Peso Pluma and Karol G, here’s our pick of the best-selling Latin albums.
Best-selling Latin Albums
- Genesis - Peso Pluma
- Mañana Será Bonito - Karol G
- Momentos - Julio Iglesias
- Romance – Luis Miguel
- Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club
- Más – Alejandro Sanz
- Vuelve – Ricky Martin
- Mi Tierra – Gloria Estefan
- Dreaming of You – Selena
- ¿Dónde Jugarán los Niños? - Maná
- Fijación Oral, Vol. 1- Shakira
- Bachata Rosa – Juan Luis Guerra
- Marc Anthony – Marc Anthony
- Abraxas – Santana
- Paulina – Paulina Rubio
What Is the Top Selling Latin Album Right Now?
That accolade goes to Peso Pluma’s Genesis. The Mexican singer’s third studio album was released through Double P Records on 22nd June and features collaborations with Eladio Carrion, Natanael Cano, Junior H, Gabito Ballesteros and a host of others. Fueled by fiery acoustic guitars and insistent horns, with addictive melodies, these are tracks that Spin praised as ‘a feisty collection of songs pushing corridos into the mainstream – and the future.’
Promoted with singles ‘Rosa Pastel’, ‘77’ and ‘Bye’, the album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, making it the highest-charting regional Mexican album in the chart’s history. It’s also clocked up over 1,060,742,600 Spotify streams to date.
This year’s other major hit album has been Karol G’s Mañana Será Bonito, which came out in February through Universal Music Latino. Not only was it the first No. 1 for the artist on the Billboard 200 album chart, but it was also the chart’s first No. 1 all-Spanish-language album by a female artist. And to top off her best year to date, she’s featured on the soundtrack of the summer – Barbie.
The album’s 17 tracks feature guests including Shakira, Sean Paul, Bad Gyal and Maldy; ‘TQG’ with Shakira became Karol G’s first No. 1 single on the Billboard Global 200. Speaking to Rolling Stone, the artist revealed the concept behind the album title: ‘The name of the album is a phrase I kept repeating to myself when nothing felt great. I mean, I was going through the best moment of my career, but personally I was really disconnected from myself and from my friends. I wasn’t unhappy, but I wasn’t happy either. So every day I’d say to myself, “It’s okay, mañana será bonito, tomorrow will be beautiful.”’
What Is the Most Sold Latin Album of All Time?
When it comes to best-selling Latin albums, one man reigns supreme: Julio Iglesias. His album Momentos, which was released in 1982 through Colombia Records, is believed to be the best-selling Latin album worldwide, with sales of 12 million copies.
Here are some of the other mega-selling Latin albums:
Romance – Luis Miguel
- Released: November 1991
- Label: WEA Latina
- Sales: 8 million
- Streams: 202,122,300
The Mexican singer’s eighth studio album is a collection of covers of 12 boleros, which were originally recorded from 1944-1986. The first two singles, ‘Inolvidable’ and ‘No Se Tu’, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart and spent six months on top of the Mexican charts, plus the album received a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Pop Album. In the US, Romance spent 32 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Latin Pop Albums chart and was the first Spanish-language album by a non-crossover Latin artist to be certified gold by the RIAA.
Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club
- Released: September 1997
- Label: World Circuit/Nonesuch
- Sales: 8 million
- Streams: 504,915,920
Ry Cooder caused an international sensation when he introduced the world to Cuba’s son musicians with his 1997 CD Buena Vista Social Club. The CD went on to win a Grammy, and helped to fuel America’s current love affair with Latin music.
Wim Wenders’ 1999 documentary, Buena Vista Social Club, helped to further rocket the ensemble of Cuban musicians to worldwide fame.
The documentary profiled the legendary Buena Vista Social Club musicians, recording their experiences as they performed in Cuba and abroad, eventually appearing at New York's Carnegie Hall. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2000 and won Best Documentary in the European Film Awards.
In 2022, the original album was selected for preservation in the US National Recording Registry as being ‘culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.’
Más – Alejandro Sanz
- Released: September 1997
- Label: WEA Latina
- Sales: 6 million
- Streams: 699,014,800
With sales of over six million copies, the Spanish singer-songwriter’s album lays claim to the best-selling album of all time in Spain.
Sanz has won 22 Latin Grammy Awards and four Grammy Awards – plus he’s received the Latin Grammy for Album of the Year three times. Best known for his flamenco-influenced ballads, he’s also experimented with genres including pop, rock, funk, R&B and jazz. In 2002, he became the first Spanish artist to record an MTV Unplugged album, and scored an international No. 1 with Shakira on ‘La Tortura’.
Vuelve – Ricky Martin
- Released: February 1998
- Label: Sony Discos/Columbia
- Sales: 6 million
- Streams: 144,836,300
Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin’s fourth studio album came out in 1998, and features Latin dance numbers and ballads, which fuse salsa and rumba with jazz, rock and pop. He received the Best Latin Pop Performance at the 41st Grammy Awards and Vuelve debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart, before becoming an international No. 1 in ten other countries.
Mi Tierra – Gloria Estefan
- Released: June 1993
- Label: Epic Records
- Sales: 5.2 million
- Streams: 130,051,700
Mi Tierra, which translates as ‘My Homeland’, pays homage to Gloria Estefan’s Cuban roots, showcasing the country’s musical genres including boleros, danzon and son music. Gloria was joined by a host of notable Latin musicians such as Tito Puente, Arturo Sandoval, Chamin Correa and Paquito D’Rivera.
It became the longest-running No. 1 album on the Top Latin Albums chart (58 weeks), undoubtedly helped by the release of seven singles, and won the Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album.
In 2015, Billboard listed Mi Tierra as one of the Essential Latin Albums of the Past 50 Years, saying that, ‘through son, she transports us to a magical place in the 50s, where time stood still on her beloved island’.
Dreaming of You – Selena
- Released: July 1995
- Label: EMI
- Sales: 5 million
- Streams: 216,777,000
Selena’s fifth album was released posthumously, selling 175,000 copies on its first day of release in the US, a record at the time for a female vocalist, and took home the Female Pop Album of the Year at the Billboard Latin Music Awards.
The tracks are a mix of American pop and Latin music – it’s her only album to feature English-language songs instead of being exclusively Spanish. Six tracks were released as singles and the title track became Selena’s highest-charting Billboard Hot 100 single of her career.
¿Dónde Jugarán los Niños? – Maná
- Released: October 1992
- Label: WEA Latina
- Sales: 10 million
- Streams: 299,119,000
Maná are a Mexican rock band and this album marked their first Top 10 entry on the Top Latin Albums chart. This second album was the one that put them on the map internationally, establishing them as one of the top Latin pop/rock acts of the 90s.
‘Vivir sin Aire’ is a highlight – its beautiful melody made it a huge hit.
Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 – Shakira
- Released: June 2005
- Label: Epic
- Sales: 5 million
- Streams: 209,561,000
Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira released her sixth studio album in 2005, following the international smash (and first English-language record) Laundry Service in 2001. She enlisted Rick Rubin as executive producer to create a Latin pop hit which won a Grammy and two Latin Grammy Awards (for Album of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Album).
The album went on to become the highest selling Latin pop album of the decade in the US, and the second-highest selling Latin album overall. Shakira wrote more than 60 songs for the album, eventually splitting it into two volumes – the first in Spanish, and the second in English, including global smash ‘Hips Don’t Lie’.
Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 set a record for the highest debut of a full-length Spanish language album in the US Billboard 200, both in terms of sales and its chart position – one which lasted for 15 years, overtaken only by Bad Bunny and the El Ultimo Tour del Mundo album.
Bachata Rosa – Juan Luis Guerra
- Released: December 1990
- Label: Karen
- Sales: 5 million
- Streams: 272,265,368
This was the album that brought bachata and merengue music into the mainstream in the Dominican Republic, and gave the genres an international audience. The album received a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album, and two Lo Nuestro Awards for Tropical Album of the Year and Tropical Group of the Year.
The album transformed the perception of bachata in the Dominican Republic, which had previously been regarded as lower-class music; Bachata Rosa became socially accepted by middle- and upper-class fans, as Billboard said that, ‘Guerra stretched bachata’s limits by playing with merengue, salsa and Afro-Caribbean rhythms.’
When it comes to who is the highest selling salsa artist of all time, one name rises to the top of the pack: Marc Anthony. A four-time Grammy Award and eight-time Latin Grammy Award-winner, he’s sold more than 12 million albums worldwide. He holds the Guinness World Record for best-selling tropical/salsa artist and the most No. 1 albums on the Billboard Tropical Albums year-end charts. He’s also the artist with the most No.1 songs on the Billboard Latin Tropical Airplay chart, with 32 songs.
His biggest seller was Marc Anthony, released in 1999, which has sold more than four million copies worldwide.
Abraxas – Santana
- Released: September 1970
- Label: Columbia
- Sales: 5 million
- Streams: 228,736,000
Latin rockers Santana’s second album became their first to reach No. 1 in the US. The album has influences as varied as Fleetwood Mac and BB King, jazz, soul, funk and samba, together with a cover of Tito Puente’s ‘Oye Como Va’.
The virtuoso guitarist (he was just 23 when Abraxas was released), fused hard-edged blues with musical elements from Mexico, Cuba and other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. The album was an instant success, spending 88 weeks on the Billboard charts and has sold more than 5 million copies. An essay for the Library of Congress shows the album’s importance: ‘This fusion of energetic Latin percussion and hard-edged rock guitar had never been heard before, and, though it has often been imitated in ensuing decades, it has rarely been equaled.’
Paulina – Paulina Rubio
- Released: May 2000
- Label: Universal Latino/Polydor
- Sales: 3 million
- Streams: 238,233,728
Mexican singer Paulina Rubio’s fifth album has a mainly Latin pop and dance-pop vibe, with influences from rock, ranchera, bolero, funk and house. It became the best-selling Latin album of 2001 and hit octuple platinum for the RIAA for 800,000 units shipped in the US.
Seven singles were released, with ‘Y Yo Sigo Aqui’ receiving a nomination for the Latin Grammy Award for Song of the Year. Infectious Latin pop and some show-stopping ballads were the hallmarks of Latin pop for the new millennium.
What Is the Most Streamed Latin Song?
Spotify have put together the ‘Viva Latino’ Billion Streams Club playlist to celebrate legendary Latin songs that have reached, or are close to, the 1 billion streams milestone.
There are plenty of hits by all the big names such as Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny, Shakira and J Balvin, together with ‘La Bachata’ by Manuel Turizo, ‘Todo De Ti’ by Rauw Alejandro and ‘Tusa’ by Karol G and Nicki Minaj.
The Ones to Watch
Which Latin albums are we most excited about for the rest of this year? Mexican artist and Latin Grammy winner for Best New Artist Silvana Estrada, known for her minimalist folk compositions, has released a new song, ‘Milagro y Desastre’ (‘miracles and disasters’) and has promised a follow-up to her album Marchita this year.
Paloma Mami has been putting Chile on the map and recent single ‘Síntomas de Soltera’ is a reggaeton anthem celebrating living the single life. Her music also incorporates elements of pop and trap, Latin R&B and urbano, with influences ranging from Bad Bunny and Rihanna to Aaliyah and Ella Fitzgerald. Her first album was released in 2021, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a new album this year.
Global superstar J Balvin – the first reggaeton artist to play on the main stage at Coachella, and the first Latino headliner at Lollapalooza - recently revealed to Nylon that he’s returning to the spotlight, two years after releasing Jose. The upcoming, energy-filled album will feature new sounds like EDM and pilita, a Dominican take on electronic music.
‘The album is very advanced, but it’s easy to digest. The flows, the deliveries — all of this is super updated.’ The LP also features old-school reggaeton and Afrobeats.
Lead single ‘Click, Click, Flash’ is gritty denbow; there’s also a track called ‘Dientes’, which samples and reimagines Lil John, User and Ludacris’ ‘Yeah!’. No word yet on the album title or release date, so watch this space. And Balvin’s set on Jay-Z-style world domination – he’s also got a collab album with Ed Sheeran, which the pair plan to drop in 2024.
Julio Iglesias may have had the bestselling Latin album of all time, but Bad Bunny and J Balvin are hot on his heels – and Peso Pluma may be the one to beat in terms of 2023 sales.
Looking for Latin music to sync? Explore our Latin series and take a deep dive into the different types of Latin music genres to find out everything you need to know about bachata, tango, reggaeton, samba and bossa nova.
Need Music for Your Project?
At Audio Network we create original music, of the highest quality, for broadcasters, brands, creators, agencies and music fans everywhere. Through clear and simple licensing, we can offer you a huge variety of the best quality music across every conceivable mood and genre. Find out how we can connect you with the perfect collaborator today by clicking the button below!