Babbel Mixtapes: Learn Spanish With Music

Pick up some grammar and vocab from Luis Fonsi, Enrique Iglesias and J.Lo.
A young woman standing on a balcony, trying to learn Spanish with music

Starting in your earliest childhood with the alphabet song, learning and music were intertwined. Learning with music doesn’t have to stop just because you’ve outgrown children’s songs, though. You can learn Spanish with music to supplement your existing knowledge of the language.

While listening to Spanish music on its own can be helpful, getting a little extra information can help you understand the songs much faster. That’s why we made Babbel Mixtapes, a guided playlist for which we selected nine Spanish songs and broke them down. Plus, all of the songs have something in common: they’re about love. Three are about new love, three are about established love and the last three are when love ends.

In this article, we’re going to give you a guide to read along with Babbel Mixtapes. You should start with the introduction starring Sebastian, our host for the series. Then, scroll through to each section to get a taste of each song, hear the commentary explaining its meaning, and read along with our Spanish tips and translations. Listen to the full playlist on Spotify here. Make sure to click the heart on the playlist to subscribe and find it easily whenever you want!

“Gavilán o Paloma” — La Lupita

English Title: “Hawk or Dove”

Synopsis: The song is sung from the perspective of a young, inexperienced man (the dove), who attempts to woo a woman by acting as though he’s older and wiser than he really is (and trying to be “a hawk”). Sadly, it doesn’t turn out too well for our young dove, who is intimidated by how forward his flirting partner is.

Lyric Excerpt

Amiga, hay que ver cómo es el amor

Que vuelve a quien lo toma

Gavilán o paloma

Pobre tonto

Ingenuo charlatán

Que fui paloma

Por querer ser gavilán

My friend, let’s see what love is like

It comes back to the one who takes it

Hawk or dove

Poor fool

Naive charlatan

For I was a dove

Trying to be a hawk

Language Tip: Need to tell a romantic interest that you want to slow down? Use estate quieto if they’re a man and estate quieta if they’re a woman.

“Lento” — Julieta Venegas

English Title: “Slowly”

Synopsis: In this song, Julieta Venegas explains to prospective romantic partners that if they want to win her, they should move slowly and gently, because she isn’t ready to move quickly in a new relationship. Possibly useful advice to anyone!

Lyric Excerpt

Si quieres un poco de mí

Me deberías esperar

Y caminar a paso lento

Muy lento

Y poco a poco olvidar

El tiempo y su velocidad

Frenar el ritmo, ir muy lento, más lento

If you want a little bit of me

You should wait for me

And walk slowly

Very slowly

And little by little forget

The time and its speed

Slow down, go slow, more slow

Language Tip: If you also want to address your future lover to tell them how to behave, you can use the second-person imperfect form of the verb deberdeberías (“you should”).

“El Baile y El Salón” — Café Tacvba

English Title: “The Dance and the Ballroom”

Synopsis: Rounding out our trio of songs about early love, this song by Café Tacuba is about two young lovers dancing in the middle of a Mexican ballroom. What sets this apart from the rest is that these lovers are both men during a time when same-sex relationships were not just taboo but violently oppressed in Mexico. In spite of it all, these two find love and happiness in each other.

Lyric Excerpt

Yo que era un solitario bailando

Me quedé sin hablar

Mientras tu me fuiste demostrando

Que el amor es bailar

La vida es un gran baile

Y el mundo es un salón

Y hay muchas parejas bailando

A nuestro alrededor

Me, a dancing loner

Was left speechless

While you showed me

That love is dancing

Life is a grand dance

And the world is a ballroom

And there are many couples dancing

Around us

Extra Tip: This song switches between the first-person singular (I), the second-person singular (you) and the first-person plural (we) often. Listen closely to make sure you know which is being used and when!

“¿Cómo Fue?” — Benny Moré

English Title: “How Was It [That We Fell In Love]?”

Synopsis: This song and the next two move on from early love and go to more thoroughly established romance. In this particularly romantic song, Benny Moré sings about what made him fall in love with his amorcito

Lyric Excerpt

Fueron tus ojos o tu boca

Fueron tus manos o tu voz

Fue a lo mejor la impaciencia

De tanto esperar tu llegada

It was your eyes and your mouth

It was your hands and your voice

Maybe it was impatience

From waiting so long for your arrival

Extra Tip: Keep an eye (or an ear?) on how fue and fueron — the past tense of ser — are used depending on whether it’s referring to a singular or plural noun. Another fascinating aspect is that if you look at other versions of this song, you might see it styled in various ways: “Como Fue,” “¿Cómo Fue?” and even “Como Fué.” The accent on como depends on whether the title is a question (with accent) or not (without accent), but you may know that fué technically shouldn’t have an accent. Accent rules have changed over time, though. When the song first came out, the fué was considered correct.

“Felices los 4” — Maluma & Marc Antony

English Title: “Happy Four”

Synopsis: Love songs are usually about a couple, but not all relationships are made up of only two. Marc Antony and Maluma sing about four people who are — as the title suggests — part of a happy polyamorous relationship.

Lyric Excerpt

Si conmigo te quedas

O con otro tú te vas

No me importa un carajo

Porque sé que volverás

Y si con otro pasas el rato

Vamos a ser feliz, vamos a ser feliz

Felices los 4

Te agrandamos el cuarto

If you stay with me

Or you go with another

I don’t give a damn

Because I know you’ll come back

And if you hang out with someone else

We’ll be happy, we’ll be happy

Happy the four

We enlarge the room

Language Tip: Listen to how the singers use the ir a construction to talk about their future together.

“Tanto” — Jesse & Joy & Luis Fonsi

English Title: “So Much”

Synopsis: The final song in this section is a 2019 pop ballad by Jesse & Joy, accompanied by Luis Fonsi (of “Despacito” fame, along with his many other very successful songs). “Tanto” is all about the difficulty of expressing intense love for someone. The singer tries again and again to show her feeling, but really it’s best captured in the title of the song: “So Much.”

Lyric Excerpt

Y hablar de sentimientos a mí no se me da

Pero lo voy a intentar

Te amo tanto

Tanto que me siento tonta

Tonta que me duela tanto cuando tú no estás

Te amo tanto

Y para que imagines cuánto

Cuenta todas las estrellas y súmale una más

And talking about feelings is not for me

But I’m going to try

I love you so much

So much that I feel silly

Silly that it hurts so much when you’re not here

I love you so much

And to imagine how much

Count all the stars and add one more

Language Tip: Like most languages, there’s more than one way to say “I love you.” Te amo is the strongest version, used to indicate passionate love. If you’re not ready for that commitment, te quiero is a bit less intense, and is suitable for family and friends.

“Llorarás” — Oscar D’León

English Title: “You Will Cry”

Synopsis: As you can tell from the English title of this song, “Llorarás” brings us into the breakups section of this playlist. This song is sung from the perspective of a wronged lover who is telling his soon-to-be ex that he’s going to leave her.

Lyric Excerpt

Llorarás, llorarás, llorarás

Como lo sufrí yo

Oye, tú llorarás

Nadie te comprenderá

Todo lo malo que hiciste

Oye mira, lo pagarás

You’ll cry, you’ll cry, you’ll cry

How I suffered

Listen, you will cry

No one will understand you

Everything wrong you did

Listen, look, you’ll pay for it

Language Tip: Singing a song about how you’re going to make your lover cry is not very uplifting, but it’s certainly a good way to see how to use the future tense.

“El Perdón” — Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias

English Title: “The Forgiveness”

Synopsis: We’re shifting from anger to sadness in this song, as it’s sung from the perspective of a man who just found out his ex is getting married to someone else. Quite clearly, our singer isn’t quite over the ex, but hopes that she’s able to forgive him for what he’s done.

Lyric Excerpt

Te estaba buscando

Por las calles gritando

Esto me esta matando, oh no

Te estaba buscando

Por las calles gritando

Como un loco tomando

I was searching for you

In the streets screaming

This is killing me, oh no

I was searching for you

In the streets screaming

Like a madman drinking

Language Tip: Look at how the verbs in this section take the ending -ando when they’re describing an ongoing action.

“Qué Hiciste” — Jennifer Lopez

English Title: “What Have You Done”

Synopsis: We couldn’t go through a playlist of Spanish songs without J.Lo, and she ends it with a bang. The song has her addressing her former lover, listing all the ways in which he’s wronged her. The lesson being, don’t wrong J.Lo.

Lyric Excerpt

¿Que hiciste? Hoy destruiste con tu orgullo la esperanza

Hoy empañaste con tu furia mi mirada

Borraste toda nuestra historia con tu rabia

Y confundiste tanto amor que te entregaba

Con un permiso para asi romperme el alma

What have you done? Today you destroyed hope with your pride

Today you blurred my vision with your fury

You erased our entire history with you rage

And you confused so much love that I gave you

With permission to break my soul

Language Tip: This song mostly takes place in the past, and the verbs almost all end in -aste or -iste, which is the form for the second-person informal .

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