Music is an essential part of the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration. For this reason, many Latin artists have lent their voice to showcase the traditional melodies of this Mexican festival, which mixes indigenous roots with Christian traditions from the Spanish colonial era, but also to bring to the forefront more recent songs such as those included in the 2017 Disney-Pixar movie soundtrack, Coco.
According to this tradition, every Nov. 1 and 2, the dead and alive are reunited when they return from Mictlan, as the ancient Mexicans called the Underworld.
In honor of Day of the Dead, Billboard compiled five heartfelt songs. Listen to them below:
“La Llorona,” Various Artists
“La Llorona” is one of the best known tracks in the Mexican popular songbook and has its origin in the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. The most famous version is performed by the late singer of Costa Rican origin Chavela Vargas. Other popular interpreters include Mexican artists Lila Downs, Aída Cuevas, and Natalia Lafourcade.
In recent years, the timeless song has positioned itself among the young generations thanks to Ángela Aguilar, who recently performed it before thousands of people in the Zócalo of Mexico City during the closing of the mega-parade dedicated to the Day of the Dead.
This year, there is also a new version performed by another young regional Mexican artist, Carolina Ross, who accompanies her singing with a TikTok where she is transformed into a Catrina skull.
“La Nostalgia,” Julieta Venegas
Mexican-American singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas pays tribute to the Mexican tradition with “La Nostalgia,” which premiered Sunday (Oct. 30) exclusively on her Facebook page. The song is part of her seventh album, Tu Historia, set to be released on Nov. 10. In this song, Venegas captures her memories of Mexico and is strongly inspired by the Day of the Dead.
“Las Flored del Camposanto,” Lupita Infante
The Mexican-American singer (granddaughter of the emblematic Mexican actor and singer Pedro Infante), released a majestic mariachi version of this song written by Luis Rosado Vega and performed in 1986 by the late Mexican singer-songwriter and musician Óscar Chávez. Infante recorded the piece to pay homage to those who are no longer with us and to the place where they rest, the cemeteries.
“Flores y Tierra,” Danny Felix
Phoenix-based singer Danny Felix, one of the pioneers of the corrido tumbao genre, also released new music in honor of Day of the Dead. On Nov. 1, he shared a video on his YouTube account announcing “Flores y Tierra,” which he states is “dedicated to loved ones who are no longer with us.” An accompanying music video shows Felix performing the song at a cemetery during the day.
“Recuérdame,” Natalia Lafourcade, Carlos Rivera
“Recuérdame” is the main theme song from the Disney Pixar film, Coco. Many versions of this heartfelt track exist, including one by Carlos Rivera, who recorded the version in Spanish for Latin America, and “Remember Me” in English recorded by Miguel Natalia Lafourcade. The song was also performed by renowned Latin actor Gael García Bernal during the 2018 Oscars ceremony, where it took the award for the best original song.