During the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1950s, mariachi became Mexico’s symbolic music genre internationally. But neither mariachi nor any other subgenre of the regional Mexican music umbrella could integrate itself on mainstream global charts.
Today, more than 70 years later, regional Mexican music is topping the global Billboard charts for the first time in history, and it’s in great part because of Gen Z’s obsession with corridos singer, Peso Pluma.
Regional Mexican is an umbrella genre which encompasses music from different parts of rural Mexico and the Southwestern United States. Their subgenres differ from state to state, but most of them are recognizable for their country attire and the strong presence of characteristic instruments, such as accordion, trumpet, saxophone, tuba, bajo sexto and tololoche. Bajo sexto is a twelve-string guitar and tololoche is a variant of a double bass, both are traditional Mexican instruments.
Although people in Mexico have been listening to Regional Mexican for centuries and South Florida started some Regional Mexican radio stations in the 80s, the genre’s entrance to American charts is recent.
In May 2021, “Botella Tras Botella” by Gera MX and Christian Nodal became the first regional Mexican song to enter the Billboard Hot 100 in its 63 years of history. Since then, 33 songs of the genre have joined the chart.
22 of them are songs by Peso Pluma, who found internet virality among Gen Z users.
Gera MX and Christian Nodal’s “Botella Tras Botella” became the first regional Mexican song ever to enter the Billboard Hot 100 in its 63 years of history.
24-year-old Miami singer Cristhian Gonzalez, who initially didn’t include regional Mexican songs in his repertoire, discovered both Christian Nodal and Peso Pluma’s music through TikTok.
“They became so famous on social media that it was impossible to not come across it,” Gonzalez said. “They became a big influence and people got into it very fast.”
Christian Nodal’s presence on the livestream platform Twitch and Peso Pluma’s viral TikTok videos made it easier for Gen Z to relate to them and their music.
Regional Mexican music allows Gonzalez to sing more personal and sentimental lyrics that are not commonly present in other latin urban genres, such as reggaeton and trap.
“What interested me the most was the rhythm, the lyrics and the overwhelming feelings part of each song,” Gonzalez said.
The regional Mexican movement is expanding.
Billboard reported this August that for the past five years, regional Mexican music grew 604% in Mexico, 212% in the United States and more than 400% globally on Spotify.
Eslabon Armado and Peso Pluma’s “Ella Baila Sola” became the first regional Mexican song to enter the Billboard Hot 100’s top five, and it hit the number one position in charts from multiple countries around the world, from Colombia to the Netherlands.
Its gold certification in Italy even prompted the Italian rock band Måneskin, which rose to fame after their viral cover of “Begin,” to cover the regional Mexican song.
Since the global popularity of “Ella Baila Sola,” Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny, Colombian singer Shakira and American DJ Marshmello have collaborated with regional Mexican artists, continuing the expansion of the genre on U.S. and global charts.
“We are seeing collab requests from K-pop, rap, hip hop,” said George Prajin, Peso Pluma’s manager and CEO of the label Prajin Records, to Billboard. “It’s not just a regional project anymore, it’s a global project.”
Colombian singer Shakira joined Mexican band Fuerza Regida in her first regional Mexican song “El Jefe” this September.
Regional Mexican is growing in South Florida.
Although most regional Mexican artists are from regions across the border of Mexico and the United States, the Mexican American Council and its Homestead-Miami Mariachi Conservatory are making an effort to teach the genre to kids and adolescents of Mexican descent.
These programs are vital to the continuation of the genre because mariachi and other regional Mexican genres tend to require the knowledge of specific instruments, such as the violin, the trumpet, the vihuela and the guitarron.
“We are launching high-level arts education, music education,” said Eddie Garza, the CEO of the Mexican American Council to CBS Miami.
But regional Mexican is becoming popular among different latin communities as radio stations in South Florida started adding songs of the genre to heavy rotation.
20-year-old Stacy Martinez, who is from Honduran descent, became a fan of regional Mexican bands Marca Registrada and Fuerza Regida, as well as regional Mexican soloists Peso Pluma, Junior H and Natanael Cano, after listening to their songs on the radio.
“Even though we have different cultures, the rhythm and style are very striking,” Martinez said. “But more than anything, this music is about memories that we all have.”