As predictable as a Christmas tree in the corner of the living room, the holiday evergreen "Feliz Navidad" has ensured that Merry Christmas is one phrase that everyone can say in Spanish. But José Feliciano’s modern classic is just the start of a Latin Christmas songbook that includes holiday standards made new with Latin rhythms, and romantic Spanish vocals that are hotter than that open fire. Here are twelve songs for your own feliz Navidad:
Alejandro Sanz - "Noche de Luz"
This soulful Christmas song shows Spanish pop star Alejandro Sanz in his most flamenco mood. Accompanied by handclapping back-up singers and guitar as well as a string ensemble, Sanz performed "Noche de Luz" at a concert at the Vatican in 2001. This little-known track is a must for an intimate Christmas Eve. What can we say but ole Alejandro, ole!
Juanes - "Burrito de Belen"
Also known as "Mi Burrito Sabanero" or "El Tuqui Tuqui," "El Burrito de Belen" is a Christmas standard in Latin America. Juanes’ recorded his rootsy version of the catchy song for a 2006 Latin pop Christmas album. This video is worth watching just to see Juanes keeping a straight face as he sings the "Tuqui tuqui tuqui tuqui, Tuqui tuqui tuqui tá" chorus.
Willie Colon/Hector Lavoe - "La Murga"
"La Murga" is arguably the coolest Christmas song ever recorded in Spanish, and its trombone intro is one of the most recognized. Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe's take on the Panamanian carnival band music sounds as hot now as it did when they recorded it as part of their 1970 Fania "Asalto Navideño" album at the height of New York’s pioneering hard salsa scene.
Prince Royce - "Mi Regalo Favorito"
Bachata-pop idol Prince Royce joined the Christmas canon this year with "Mi Regalo Favorito." Now where’s that mistletoe, baby?