From Julio Iglesias to 'Despacito', as part of our series on Latin hit-making, Latino Life brings you the ultimate timeline, showing the pattern and progression of hits by Latino artists in the UK.
Jose Luis Seijas

1970-1996: Cheese makes the Latin Hits

1981 - Julio Iglesias’ Begin the Beguine (Volver a Empezar)

Not even the strange translation could stop Spain’s biggest export, global phenomenon and all round ladies man finally snatching the UK #1

1985 – ‘No way Jose’, by Tequila

Peaking at #47, it deserves a mention because this Venezuelan singer, Victor Hugo, is the only UK based Latino who ever cracked the UK Top 50 in the UK charts

1989 - ‘Don't Wanna Lose You’ by Gloria Estefan

The Cuban born diva has been one of the most successful Latino crossover artists. Embraced by the UK in the eighties and nineties, she had 30 songs in the top 75 with this one reaching  #6.

1995 – Masters at Work present India ‘I Can’t Get No Sleep’

Production duo Little Louie Vega and Kenny Dope’s biggest UK chart hit to date at #44, featuring young La India on vocals, a club classic that is still played in dance floors across the UK.

1996 – ‘Macarena’ by Los del Rio

One of the most iconic examples of trashy 1990s dance music. Ranked #1 Greatest One-Hit Wonder of All Time" by VH1, the reworked "Macarena (Bayside Boys remix)" spent 14 weeks at #1 in the U.S, one of the longest runs in chart history. In the UK it peaked at #2, kept off #1 by Spice Girls ‘Wannabe’

1997-1996: What, no Irony?

1997 - Buena Vista Social Club

Probably the first time authentic Latin music is heard by the British mainstream. Album goes platinum in US and spends several weeks in #1. In the UK the CD and accompanying movie became middle class ‘must-haves’ of the year.

1999 - Livin' la Vida Loca’ by Ricky Martin

Souring to UK #1, this ground-breaking track paved the way for other Spanish-speaking artists (Enrique Iglesias then later Shakira) to crack the UK charts.

‘Mambo no.5’ by Lou Bega

Two years after the Buena Vista phenomenon, a German producer dressed like Compay Segundo shoots to #1 with Perez Prado’s Cuban classic. Strange, to say the least. Even stranger that two year’s later that children’s quintessential personality ‘Bob the Builder’s remix

2000 - 2005: A New Latin Era

2001 – ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias

It’s #1 everywhere for Iglesias jnr. with both single and album, 20 years after his father started his love affair with the world.

2002 – Two talented Latin rappers break the charts in the same year

NORE’s ‘Nothin’ became a massive club tune that took him to #11 and Fat Joe’s ‘What's Luv?’(featuring Ashanti) reached #4 and made Fat Joe a household name in the UK.

2003 – Rise of the Latin Divas

Two Latina crossover artists begin smashing UK charts. The first ‘Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh) by Lumidee, is probably one of the most played songs in UK urban clubs and reached #2. Then half-Ecuadorian Christina Aguilera swiftly became Gloria Estefan of the noughties, with four UK #1s, ‘Beautiful’ being the most significant. Shakira and J-Lo follow.

2005 - 2010 The Breakthrough Years

2005 - Daddy Yankee spends 3 weeks at #5 with the quintessential reggeatón track ‘Gasolina’. Fresh out of Puerto Rico. the first time a Latin artist tops the UK chart with an authentic Latin track.

2006 – ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ by Shakira

Interestingly, whilst the Colombian had several pop hits in the UK, her first #1 came with her most tropical and reggeatón-influenced track to date. In the same year

2010-2016: Reggeatón - The New Pop

2011 - Jennifer Lopez’ ‘On the Floor’

Queen of the Nuyorican divas, this third UK #1 was a duet with Cuban reggeatón artist Pitbull.

2014 By now Pitbull has had 3 UK #1s and 13 Top Tens

Probably the most played Latino artist played in the UK radio…ever ‘Give me Everything’ and ‘Timber’ being his biggest hits

You could say it was Cuban reggeatón act Gente de Zona, that made a waning Enrique Iglesias relevant again with ‘Bailando’, which shot to #1 in the US and #12 in the UK, and became a huge worldwide hit. A prime example of how Latin-Caribbean flavour has added much needed spice to increasingly bland pop.

2017- Unprecedented Latin Success

The year it went crazy with ‘Despacito’ at UK #1 for 11 weeks. Then J Balvin with ‘Mi gente’, Enrique Iglesias (yes again) with ‘Subeme La radio’ and newcomers CNCO & Little Mix with Reggaeton Lento (Bailemos). Never before have four largely Spanish-language songs graced the UK’s Top 20. For the first time labels, radio and audiences agree on how great Latin music is!

See our original article on Latin hitmaking here