Whether you know him as The Charro from Huentitán, The King of Ranchera Music, or The Idol of Mexico, if you’re any kind of a fan of Ranchera, you’ll be familiar with the work of Vincente Fernandez. After taking his first steps in music as a busker, he steadily climbed the ladder to become one of Mexico’s biggest and best-loved stars. Over the past 60 years, he’s earned three Grammy Awards, eight Latin Grammy Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In between picking up awards, he’s also managed to sell over 50 million records worldwide. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Vicente Fernandez songs of all time.
10. Para Siempre
Recorded for the album of the same name in 2007, Para Siempre finds Fernandez in a softer mood than usual. The sound is gentler and more sophisticated than Fernandez’s standard fare – the influence, perhaps, of Mexican artist Joan Sebastian, who elevates what was already a beautiful song with some particularly lovely contributions. After hitting number two in the Billboard Hot Latin Songs in the United States and topping the charts in México and Colombia, the song was used as the main theme to the Mexican telenovela Fuego En La Sangre, bringing a new audience to the album and helping it stay in the charts for a stonking two years.
9. Me Voy a Quitar de En Medio
Fernandez has never been an artist to shy away from experimenting, as evidenced by the beautiful Me Voy a Quitar de En Medio. Recorded in 2000 for the album Entre el amor y yo, it came at a point in Fernandez’s career where he would have been forgiving for dishing out the same collection of songs over and over again, content in the knowledge that people would carry on buying them regardless. But Fernandez isn’t a lazy artist, and Me Voy a Quitar de En Medio, with its Spanish, Cuban, and Mexican flair and wonderfully deep lyrics, is far from a lazy song.
8. Aca Entre Nos
As hiplatina.com notes, Aca Entre Nos is yet another song about heartbreak from Fernandez. Fortunately, he does them so well, there’s always room for one more. A slow burner marked by echoed vocals and growled whispers, the song finds Fernandez giving his macho side the day off and showing his sensitive side. It doesn’t happen that often, making it all the more reason to celebrate when it does.
7. De Que Manera Te Olvido
De Que Manera Te Olvido is a song about unconditional love. The lyrics are decent enough, the vocals are on point, but it’s the melody that grabs you. Since featuring on the 1994 album, Historia De Un Idolo Vol.II, it’s become a staple of mariachi, and for very good reason.
6. Mujeres Divinas
In Mujeres Divinas, Fernandez sings from the perspective of a man who has a conversation with a couple of old guys about the rights and wrongs of men cursing women. It ends in the realization that men shouldn’t take cheap shots at women, and (in a shock move for the macho world of ranchers), that casting women as either Madonnas or whores rather than recognizing their innate complexities probably isn’t the smartest move in the world. If you’ve ever wondered what makes Fernandez such a hit with so many women, this song is the answer.
5. Volver Volver
Named by Latin Post as one of Fernandez’s best songs, Volver Volver is unquestionably one of the most iconic songs in Fernandez’s back catalog. Like many of Fernandez’s songs, Volver Volver is a heartbreaker, written from the perspective of a remorseful man who’d do anything he can to be back in the arms of the woman he loves. The lyrics might be standard Fernandez fare, but it’s the shouts, the weeping, and, more than anything else, that warbling intro organ that makes the song such a firm favorite.
4. Por Tu Maldito Amor
Ranchera music and songs of heartbreak go together like love and marriage. If you want to weep and wail about your achy breaky heart, there are a few hundred ranchera songs that will be happy enough to accompany you. Of all of them, Por Tu Maldito Amor is perhaps the most tender. The lyrics are touching enough, but the crying voice with which Fernandez sings them makes them even more touching than they’d be otherwise.
3. La Ley Del Monte
The battling violins and trumpets are what catch your attention first on La Ley Del Monte, but it’s the lyrics that will keep you gripped. It’s a song that manages to be one of the sweetest revenge songs of all time, as well as an ode to the power of nature, eternal love, and rancho life. Basically, it’s all things to all listeners; if you haven’t already heard it, give yourself a treat by cranking the volume to max and hitting play.
2. El Rey
El Rey was written by José Alfredo Jiménez in 1971, and now ranks as one of the most famous songs in Mexico. Many artists have covered it, but few have come close to matching the original. Fernandez, on the other hand, not only managed to match it, he bettered it. The vocals might be a little rough, and it may lack the nuance of Jiménez’s original, but its potent masculinity and wounded emotion make it utterly irresistible. If any song helped Fernandez win the title of King of Ranchera, it’s this.
1. Los Mandados
As ocweekly.com says, Los Mandados is not only the best Vicente Fernández song of all time, it’s one of the funniest, angriest, most scathing recordings to ever come out from Mexico. In just three minutes, Fernandez manages to turn American immigration policy into a farce of Smokey and the Bandit-sized proportions, with the wise-cracking protagonist happily admitting that La Migra has caught him “300 times, let’s say.” Few songs have ever managed to make a serious point so hilariously, proving exactly what makes Fernandez such an icon.
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