Music in Mexico

Café Tacuba, Panteón Rococó, Molotov, Celso Piña, and Nortec are all excellent bands/artists from Mexico. Each could be squeezed into a genre, but they mix styles, innovate and evolve. The easiest way to describe the five are alternative rock, ska, rap/punk, cumbia, and electronic. All still tour and each has played Mexico City’s huge music festival, Vive Latino.

A year ago I wrote an article about popular Latin music. Though virtually unknown north of the border, many excellent groups are huge in the Spanish-speaking world and deserve a listen.

A year later, I know a year’s worth more about Latin music. There’s so much quality and diversity of Latin music that in this blog I’ll just stick to music in Mexico. Not Mexican music – that would imply genres that are distinctly Mexican, like Mariachi. These five artists are modern and popular.

Café Tacuba

Café Tacuba is one of those bands that plays in many styles, but you always know it’s them. They are best described as what was called alternative in the early nineties. Their self-titled debut from 1996 has great acoustic and experimental songs.

I think some of their best videos are from their unplugged show:

Panteón Rococó

Panteón Rococó is pure energy. Called a ska band, they mix a lot of rock and funk into their music, and occasionally reggae or cumbia.

Some of their first recordings from the mid-nineties aren’t very good quality. The songs have evolved, so listen to their live album 10 Años un Panteón Muy Vivo. They are awesome live.

Their most recent album Ejercito de Paz is also excellent. Not many bands put out an album full of classic anthems 20 years into their career.

Panteón Rococó is one of many Latin ska-rock-reggae bands with huge followings. Leaders of the pack are Los Fabulosos Cadillacs for ska and Los Pericos on the reggae side, both from Argentina. Others worth hearing are Los Autenticos Decadentes, Cidade Negra, and from Mexico Maldita Vecindad, Antidoping, Mama Pulpa, and Maskateska.


Molotov is the most diverse of these groups, with rap, punk, and just plain weird songs.

Their big hits like Gimme the Power and Puto are innovative, catchy, political, and vulgar. Some of the most well-known have choruses in English, or even whole verses like in a particular favorite of mine, Frijolero:

Celso Piña

The accordion-playing frontman, Celso Piña, makes cumbia for badasses.

This isn’t matching-suit cumbia of the wedding party dance floor, but gritty with elements of electro and hip-hop. This song was made with Control Machete, a rap group from Mexico:


Nortec isn’t a group but a collective of DJs from the north of Mexico who mix nortena and techno. It comes out way better than you would expect.

While live they bring out horn sections:

If you like any of this music and want to buy it, click on one of the CDs. When you buy things through Amazon after getting there though a link on my site, I get a cut. It doesn’t cost you any more, but it helps out broke bloggers like me. It’s called Amazon Associates.

To finish off this story I have to mention two of the most popular Mexican rock bands, Caifanes and Maná, although I can’t say I’m a big fan other than of a few songs.


About Ted Campbell

U.S.-Canadian writer, translator and university teacher in Mexico. Travel stories and practical tips on my blog No Hay Bronca: Twitter: @NoHayBroncaBlog // Contact: nohaybroncablog (at)

Posted on October 6, 2011, in Mexico, Music and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Hola,
    We are a band from New Zealand and we released today a song about a Mexican experience by 2 kiwis. Please check it out, hope you like it. Gracias, B @ Playing Strangers

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