Before we start with our top 9 most legendary Spanish groups, we want to make it clear that we are going to stick only to bands. So if you’ve come looking for soloists or duos, you may find this entry disappointing. If we have decided to focus on this, in reality, it is because it is much easier to choose from the best names for a musical list when we are not trying to cover everything.
So, names like Joaquín Sabina, OBK (in case anyone considered them among the most important Spanish music groups in History), El Último de la Fila or Luz Casal, to name just 4 examples, will not be part of the list. However, other great bands that you will almost surely love will be there. This criterion would allow the appearance of Alaska and los Pegamoides, as well as Alaska and Dinarama, but not Fangoria or Lole and Manuel. You may also have some discrepancy with our opinion, of course, but in general terms, it will be a top 9 quite close to what anyone could imagine.
On the other hand, we also want to remember Los Rodríguez or Tequila for their importance, although they are not on the final list. However, it may also happen that we come across the name of a band that we like much more than society. Or that it is even more important outside our borders than in Spain. We’ll see as we go along. In any case, the essential thing is that, if you do not know any of the Spanish groups mentioned, you leave here thinking that you have discovered some new great songs that have been well worth your time and listening. While you review it, I’ll leave you with a Spanish rock playlist that has a little bit of everything so that you not only listen to what we recommend in the following lines.
The 9 best Spanish music groups of all time
Again, before we get to the crux of the matter, one last detail: the order of the list is random. These have been the chosen famous Spanish groups, although others could have been selected, more for their importance and influence than for their long career or annual sales. Here we could include people like Veneno (the trio formed by Kiko Veneno, Raimundo Amador, and Rafael Amador), Leño, or lesser-known bands like Atila with their progressive rock.
But if we were to analyze only the best Spanish bands, we would only have to look at the 60s to find more than 10, without even going a decade further to see that there would be many more. Despite what was said, you will see that our list contains many names that came after, representative of the decades following the aforementioned ones, largely because they are an evolutionary conclusion of music in this country, which although in the 80s seemed to be going in a different direction from the one previously known, in the 90s found a middle ground between both worlds.
We start our list with Ska-P. The band from Vallecas, with 8 albums to their credit (as of 2020), is one of the most famous in the world. Their second album (El vals del obrero) marked their big leap to fame through the song Cannabis, which is still remembered by people who want to know nothing more about this group.
Their combative and anti-system rock has over the years become taken a little less seriously, especially after being hired by a multinational company that would allow them to tour the world to give concerts without problems. In any case, their great milestones can be found in Planeta Eskoria (2000) and ¡¡Que corra la voz!! (2002), in addition to the previously mentioned album.
Among their great hits: Niño Soldado, Mis colegas, España va bien, and generally all those that give title to the albums.
The trajectory of Mecano, which spans from 1981 to 1991, only has one downside: some of the lyrics of their songs. But this is also part of their charm. “Hoy no me puedo levantar” and “Perdido en mi habitación,” their first hits even before the release of their debut album in ’82, are a testament to what their career was like, being one of the most important groups when we talk about 80s music in Spanish.
“Me colé en una fiesta,” “Maquillaje,” “Barco a Venus,” “Japón,” “Hawaii-Bombay,” “Ay, qué pesado,” “Cruz de navajas,” “Me cuesta tanto olvidarte,” “Hijo de la Luna,” “Mujer contra mujer,” “La fuerza del destino,” “El 7 de septiembre,” or “Una rosa es una rosa” are some of their most known songs, meaning that in their 10-year career together, almost every year they offered something new that the public loved.
Considered as the Spanish Beatles, this appreciation is somewhat unfair because it makes Los Brincos seem like a mere imitation. Although we can also overlook that part and see this comparison as one that would place them as the best Spanish music group.
The band, formed by Fernando Arbex, Manuel González, Juan Pardo, Junior, Ricky Morales, Vicente Martínez, Miguel Morales, and Óscar Lasprilla, subsequently led to the creation of many other great bands within the country’s history. Alacrán, Barrabás, Los Estudiantes, Juan & Junior, Los Jumps, Los Pekenikes, Los Shakers, Los Surcos, or Los Vándalos, for example, all had some great success.
In their favor, being among the first to make flamenco rock (or the first without a doubt). “Borracho,” “Tú me dijiste adiós,” “Giulietta,” “Mejor,” “Lola,” or “Nadie te quiere ya” are legendary songs still remembered within their discography. They said goodbye with “Mundo demonio carne,” a minor failure compared to what their career had been, although it was a complete renewal in their sound, as demonstrated by the first single they released, “Vive la realidad.”
Héroes del Silencio
Formed by guitarist Juan Valdivia and singer Enrique Bunbury, bassist Joaquín Cardiel, and drummer Pedro Andreu, their fame in the 80s reached America and several European countries, including Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Yugoslavia, and Portugal. Over time, and even then, they have been recognized as one of the main contributors to the Spanish rock scene and are considered one of the best bands of all time in that genre.
With only 4 albums to their credit from 1988 to 1994, their best-known singles are “Mar adentro,” “Entre dos tierras,” “Maldito duende,” “La herida,” “La sirena varada,” “Deshacer el Mundo (Benasque),” “Iberia Sumergida,” “La chispa adecuada,” or “Avalancha.”
If transgressive rock existed as a subgenre, Extremoduro of Robe Iniesta created it in 1989 (naming it in 1994 with their fourth studio album). In 1996, Iñaki “Uoho” Antón (from Platero y Tú) joined the band, and although the band’s spirit was maintained thanks to Iniesta’s personality and lyrics, from this moment we can speak of a second stage in Extremoduro’s sound, which would last from “Agila” to “Yo, minoría absoluta” in 2002.
The third stage would go from 2008 until now, or until 2013, the year of the band’s last album, and the one that generated the most criticism among their fans. Many accused the group of abandoning their style, while others argued that it was a logical evolution derived from the passage of time and maturity. The reality is that all of that is irrelevant to us, as we consider each album another success.
From “Jesucristo García” to “¡Qué borde era mi valle!,” it’s hard to find a bad single among their trajectory. From the first stage, we could rescue “Extremaydura,” “Ama, ama, ama y ensancha el alma,” “Pepe Botika,” “¿Dónde están mis amigos?” or “Pedrá.” From the second, “Buscando una luna,” “So payaso,” “Golfa,” “Salir,” “A fuego,” “Standby” or “La vereda de la puerta de atrás.” From the third stage, “Dulce introducción al caos,” “Si te vas…” or “Locura transitoria” (and considering that we are talking about three very special albums, just as “Pedrá” was).
For many, the most intelligent and self-aware band in the Spanish musical landscape. Although it may not have value today, it is worth noting that in 1989, just at the end of the decade, they were voted the best Spanish music group of the 80s. Songs like “Enamorado de la moda juvenil,” “Escuela de calor,” “El tonto Simón,” “La ciudad interior,” “Annabel Lee,” “La negra flor,” “Corazón de tiza,” or “Veneno en la piel” attest to that.
In this way, we can understand a little more how the band of Herminio Molero, Santiago Auserón, Enrique Sierra, Luis Auserón, Javier Pérez Grueso, Solrac Velázquez, and Pedro Navarrete (among others, because there were many changes beyond the core formed by the Auserón and Sierra) has become one of the most legendary in this country’s musical landscape.
The most appreciated indie music group in Spain, generally speaking, Los Planetas consists of Jota and Florent Muñoz, the last original members of the band that still persist to this day. They were formed in 1990 under the name Los Subterráneos.
Among their repertoire, we highlight “Qué puedo hacer,” “Nuevas sensaciones,” “Segundo premio,” “Un buen día,” “Santos que yo te pinte,” “Pesadilla en el parque de atracciones,” “Alegrías del incendio,” or “Islamabad.”
For many, the best Spanish heavy metal group, and one of the few that achieved international success in the ’80s. The band was led by brothers Carlos and Armando de Castro, previously of the band Coz, and is considered one of the most important representatives among Spanish hard rock bands.
Although they appeared at number 18 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “50 best Spanish rock bands,” we place them among the 9 best, without further ado. “Los rockeros van al infierno,” the eponymous “Barón Rojo,” “Invulnerable,” “Resistiré,” “Con botas sucias,” or “Hijos de Caín” are testament to their musical lethality.
Last but not least, without any particular order or criteria for appearing this way, Triana. The Andalusian progressive rock that has brought the most joy to music lovers both inside and outside Spain. Not in vain, the group is known for mixing elements of progressive rock and flamenco music to create a then-unique style (back in 1974).
“En el lago,” “Abre la puerta,” “Tu frialdad,” “Recuerdos de una noche (bulerías 5 x 8)”, “Sr. Troncoso,” or “Una noche de amor desesperada” are just some examples of their quality and sound potential. The trio consisting of vocalist and organist Jesús de la Rosa Luque, guitarist Eduardo Rodríguez Rodway, and drummer Juan José Palacios “Tele” remained until 1983, the year de la Rosa Luque passed away. Before the group’s breakup, they released a farewell album in ’86 with previously recorded material. Since then, there have been several other lineups, but unfortunately, nothing as powerful as before.
(Madrid, 1987) Novelist by vocation, SEO specialist by profession. Music lover, cinephile and reading lover, but in “amateur” mode.