Songs We Love During Quarantine: Brenda Navarrete, Olaya Alcázar, Los Van Van and More Latin Picks

Brenda Navarette, Havana Meets Kingston
David Corio/Redferns

Brenda Navarette of Havana Meets Kingston performing at the Open Air Stage Womad, Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, UK on July 28, 2018.

Spiritual support from Cuba, Spain and places in my mind.

Being forced to stay indoors and “socially distanced” very naturally leads us to reassess our personal playlists. Couple that with Easter and Passover, and we’re definitely in the midst of a reflective, thankful and collaborative state of mind. In a nod to the state of the times, Billboard’s Latin editors will be sharing their personal quarantine playlists with readers through April 17. Judy Cantor-Navas, Billboard’s correspondent in Spain, shares hers today. 

For spiritual support I turn to music; playlists are my altars, songs are my prayers. Which doesn’t mean they are solemn, or even reverent. Here in Barcelona, I’m been confined at home with my family for exactly a month (except for taking the garbage out a few times), with we don’t know how many more weeks to go.

Here’s a little sample of music I’ve been listening to, songs that will become talismans tied to this time, to family “boot camp” on the terrace, making food and washing dishes, writing (or trying to), and just staring into space.

On the list, there’s Cuban music -- always my comfort music, beginning with Brenda Navarro’s path-finding call to the Afro-Cuban orisha Eleguá, and including Los Van Van, whose songs have taught me many life lessons over the years; Cimafunk (change the words in the song to “Pero no voy pa’ la tuya,” and new music from Orquesta Failde.

Also included are Spain’s balcony song “Resistiré” (2020 version), and alternate Olaya Alcázar’s “Quedate en tu Puta Casa,” which I told my 12-year-old son to stop singing before I started singing it with him to watch him laugh every time; now I can’t get it out of my head.

I’m looking for light at the end of the tunnel with Nil Lara and Jorge Drexler, and making lemonade with Peret. There’s a meditative moment with El Buho and Klik & Frik, and Kate Tempest’s “People’s Faces,” which knotted by heart when I saw her perform it at last year’s Primavera Sound festival. Ketama’s “Loko,” because it reminds of Semana Santa in Sevilla, Beastie Boy’s salute to New York, my hometown, and Vetusta Morla’s “Los Días Raros,” for obvious reasons.


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