The 10 Best Santana Songs of All-Time

Carlos Santana

Hailing from San Fransisco, California, is the American rock band known as Santana. Mexican-American guitarist Carlos Santana first put the band together as the Santana Blues Band, along with the assistance of Tom Fraser. At the time, it was a 5-man line-up that featured Santana and Fraser on guitars, as well as lead vocalist Gregg Rolie, percussionist Marcus Malone, drummer Rod Harper, and bassist Sergio “Gus” Rodriguez. After their first audition together as a band, performing with Family Dog, at the Avalon Ballroom during the summer of 1967, they were told by a concert promoter they would not be able to achieve success by playing Latin-infused rock. Instead of listening to that concert promoter to keep his day job as a dishwasher for a fast-food drive-in, Carlos Santana and his band achieved that unachievable success while performing at a music festival in 1969, as well as releasing their first three albums. Those albums are:

  • Santana (1969)
  • Abraxas (1970)
  • Santana III (1971)

In addition to already being a successful Latin-infused rock band, they also incorporated elements of jazz, which its fusion can be heard within their next three albums:

  • Caravanserai (1972)
  • Welcome (1973)
  • Borboletta (1974)

In total, which includes the albums already listed, Santana has produced a total of 25 studio albums, 24 compilation albums, 7 live albums, 13 collaborative albums, and 63 singles. Despite the numerous changes in the band’s roster, Carlos Santana continues to keep rocking as Santana, realizing over 55 years’ worth of recording and touring to a worldwide audience that often regards him as the grandfather of the Latin rock genre.

10. Evil Ways


Coming from the 1969 debut album (Santana) is the cult classic (Evil Ways). The introduction of its Latin-style rock performance not only won over Carlos Santana the instant admiration of music fans of American and Latino heritage but its first top 40 single as it scored #9 on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as #19 with US Adult Contemporary. At the time, Gregg Rolie played the lead vocals, as well as playing out a solo on the Hammond organ in the middle of the song. The guitar solo performed by Carlos Santana is considered “epic” among most fans who’ve fallen in love with the Latin-rock genre at its earliest roots. This song also charted elsewhere in the world, namely at #13 with the Dutch Single Top 100 and at #59 with Australia’s ARIA charts.

9. Black Magic Woman


(Black Magic Woman) is the first single released from Santana’s second album (Abraxas), which came out in 1970. With the US Billboard Hot 100, it charted to #4 and with US Adult Contemporary at #29. With Australia’s ARIA, it came in 15th and with Germany’s GfK Entertainment Charts at #14.

8. She’s Not There


This single (She’s Not There) was released in 1977, along with its album (Moonflower). The lead vocalist for this song came from Greg Walker, who was part of Santana’s band, off and on, from 1975 until 1985. On the music charts, it ranked at #27 with the US Billboard Hot 100, #19 with Australia’s ARIA, #3 with the Dutch, #9 with New Zealand’s Official Music Chart, and at #11 with UK’s Singles Chart.

7. Put Your Lights On (featuring Eric Everlast)


Coming from Santana’s 1999 album (Supernatural) is the single (Put Your Lights On), which features the talent of Eric Everlast. While recovering from his heart attack, Everlast wrote this song and performed it with Carlos Santana. At the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards, it won an award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. On the music charts, the song did very well with the following rank positions:

  • #4 (US Adult Alternative)
  • #5 (Canada Rock/Alternative)
  • #5 (Hungary’s Mahasz)
  • #8 (US Billboard Mainstream Rock)
  • #11 (Belgium Ultratop)
  • #17 (US Billboard Alternative Airplay)
  • #32 (Australia’s ARIA)
  • #35 (Canada Top Singles)
  • #59 (Canada Adult Contemporary)
  • #87 (Switerzland’s Hitparade)
  • #88 (UK Singles Chart)
  • #92 (Germany’s GfK Entertainment Chart)

6. Hold On


Featuring Santana’s lead vocalist at the time (Alex Lightwood) covers the song (Hold On) for the 1982 album (Shango). This version of what was originally written and released by Canadian songwriter Ian Thomas (which charted in Canada at #28) performed very well as it became one of Santana’s most successful hits throughout the band’s musical career. On the charts, this version of the song peaked even higher in Canada than Thomas’ version at #4. With the US Billboard Hot 100, it came in at #15 and on their US Mainstream Rock at #17. In Adult Contemporary, it peaked at #34. Among the Dutch, it reached #22, in New Zealand at #31, and with the Australians at #64.

5. Just Feel Better (featuring Steven Tyler)


Joining Santana for the single (Just Feel Better) is Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, who offers his vocal talent with this hit. Coming from the 2005 album (All That I Am), this song not only performs decent enough on the music charts at a worldwide level but as a favorite among fans of Aerosmith and Santana alike. In Australia, this song peaked at its highest at #7. With US Adult Contemporary, it peaked at #13. Elsewhere, it reached #37 with US Mainstream Rock, #28 with US Adult Contemporary, #58 with the Dutch, #44 in Germany, #39 in Switzerland, and #77 in the UK.

4. Into the Night (featuring Chad Kroeger)


Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger hooks up with Carlos Santana to release the single (Into the Night), which is featured on Santana’s 2007 album (Ultimate Santana). There are so many charts this hit reached as its crossover hit has ultimately struck into the hearts of American and Canadian fans as an all-time favorite, as well as among those elsewhere in the world. In Canada, this song charted at number one with their Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary, as well as in Hungary. With Canada’s Hot 100, it peaked at #2, as well as with the US Billboard Adult Top 40. Around the world, this hit at least made it into their respective top 40 charts with the exception of Switzerland as it placed #49 and among the Czech Republic at #62.

3. Maria Maria (featuring The Product G&B and Wyclef Jean)


Many fans will classify (Maria Maria) as their ultimate classic favorite from Santana. It comes from the 1999 album (Supernatural) and is one of the best-selling singles the band has ever produced. The American duo from The Product G&B (David McRae and Marvin Moore-Hough) team up with Wyclef Jean and Santana to bring forth this hit. During the 2000 Grammy Awards, this single won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The song reached #1 in Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US. According to the US Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Chart, Maria Maria currently ranks at #122.

2. The Game of Love (featuring Michelle Branch)


Carlos Santana is at his best with his guitar genius as Michelle Branch offers her vocal talent in the single (The Game of Love). It comes from the band’s 2002 album (Shaman) and earns a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. With the US Billboard Hot 100, the song peaked at #5. With US Adult Contemporary and US Adult Pop, it reached #1. Among the nations of Canada, Hungary, New Zealand, Romania, and Spain, The Game of Love cracked into the top ten of their respective music charts.

1. Smooth (featuring Rob Thomas)


Coming from the 1999 album (Supernatural) is the single (Smooth), which is the most listened to and commercially successful song throughout Santana’s entire discography. The vocal talent of Rob Thomas meshes perfectly with the guitar genius of Carlos Santana to earn this song more than the admiration of fans and critics at every corner of the globe. As of 2018, Smooth was ranked by US Billboard Hot 100 as the second most successful song of all time. This is also the case with their US Billboard Mainstream Top 40. With the US Billboard Adult Top 40, it’s officially sitting at #1. Smooth has achieved 2x Platinum certification from Australia’s ARIA, UK’s BPI Gold, USA’s RIAA Platinum, and USA’s Digital RIAA Gold.

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