Even if you don’t live in the Americas, the ascent of regional Mexican music (aka Música Mexicana) in recent years has been hard to miss. 

Whether that’s the distinctive voice and mullet of Mexican superstar Peso Pluma on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, or high-pitched rasp of breakout act Xavi, this diverse scene is having an outsized impact on both sides of the Atlantic.

On SoundCloud alone, acts in the Música Mexicana scene on the platform saw play counts increase nearly 225% from 2021 to 2023, with much of that activity coming from outside Mexico and the US.

In this article we’ll start you on your path to navigating the vibrant world of Música Mexicana.


The term ‘regional Mexican’ was originally coined by radio stations in the 80s to differentiate music that came from a Mexican tradition from other Latin music genres. It describes music from Mexico’s many regions, but also extends to US artists with cultural ties back to Mexican folk music. 

However, there’s been a move by some labels, artists and streaming services in recent years to use the term Música Mexicana instead. The community is split 50/50 over the naming, with some seeing ‘regional Mexican’ as a restrictive, legacy term that doesn’t reflect the scene’s global success, while others see it as part of the movement’s heritage.

Either way, regionality remains significant in Música Mexicana. Mexico is big – thirty-one states big – with a population of 120 million. The sound and cultures from coast to coast, and from north to south are distinct from one another. 

A rich history

The history of Música Mexicana starts in the mid 1800s, with a folk style called ranchera, characterised by a dramatic and sentimental singing style, accompanied by strummed stringed instruments and brass. 

But if ranchera is the trunk of the Música Mexicana tree, there are many branches that have grown from it. And some of them reached global audiences long before Peso Pluma and Eslabon Armado. 

As Billboard Español Associate Editor Isabela Raygoza puts it: “The regional style went global when Pedro Infante popularised mariachi via the golden age of Mexican cinema in the ‘50s.” 

Since then, Raygoza points out, there have been new waves of international interest: Vicente Fernández in the ‘70s, Selena in the ‘90s, and Christian Nodal out-streaming the US’ biggest stars with 1.3B streams on his 2017 single ‘Adios Amor’.

What’s happened in Música Mexicana music recently?

The latest wave of interest in Música Mexicana began in 2019 with Natanael Cano’s album Mi Nuevo Yo and its hit single ‘Amor Tumbado’. The track has enjoyed 400M+ streams to date, and boosted the ‘corridos tumbados’ style further into the mainstream.

For the unfamiliar, a ‘corrido’ is a Mexican ballad that traditionally tells a story about historical events or notable characters. They come in several varieties.

Corridos tumbado’ (literally ‘lying down ballad’) is a twist on the form that adds trap and hip hop elements. Natanael Cano’s success was in part due to this stylistic update, but also his embrace of more universal themes like love and heartbreak.

Alongside the evolution of corridos tumbado, the melancholic, melodic ‘sierreño’ style from Mexico's northern highlands was gaining popularity, led by Ivan Cornejo. Influenced by the late pioneer of ’sad sierreño’, Ariel Camacho, Cornejo rose to prominence with his 2021 hit 'Está Dañado' at just 17, adding electric guitar to his sound, and appealing to younger audiences.

Then, in 2023, Música Mexicana had another huge moment: Peso Pluma showed up on the scene. Vastly different from Cornejo, Peso incorporates hip hop, trap and reggaeton influences and writes ‘corridos bélicos’, the narcocorridos (drug ballads) of today. But his inescapable hit ’Ella Baila Sola’ (#4 on the Billboard Hot 100) is a team-up with Californian group Eslabon Armado and uses elements of both sierreño and corridos.

That’s a very brief history, but since then, a lot has been happening in Música Mexicana. Here are some of our favourite artists pushing the entire scene forward.

Ivan Cornejo

Now 19 years old, Mexican-American artist Ivan Cornejo was raised on sierreños and his take on the sound has pushed him to the forefront of the sub-genre. His distinct style draws on influences including Arctic Monkeys, psychedelic rockers Tame Impala and even Johnny Cash, making his music some of the most accessible for audiences unfamiliar with the more traditional regional Mexican instrumentation. Since 2021, Cornejo has been a figurehead for sierreño artists, with many looking up to him.


Xavi is one of the hottest talents in the Música Mexicana scene right now, with Billboard naming him ‘Latin Artist on the Rise’ in January. Influenced by Natanael Cano, he’s taken corridos tumbado in a different direction. His brand of tumbados románticos (laid back romantic ballads) is typified by the track ‘La Victima’. While his sound is more traditional than Cornejo, modern production elements like reversed sounds, and more polished pop vocals bring his music right up to date. 

Conexión Divina

Conexión Divina are truly breaking new ground. The trio are the first all-women Gen Z sierreño group, and were the first sierreño group to play Coachella. Hailing from California, Texas and Arizona, the three-piece have ably taken space in the male-dominated Música Mexicana space, and are proud representatives of the LGBTQ+ community, demonstrating the growing diversity within the sierreño tradition.


With its sweeping pop strings and muted guitar intro, DannyLux’s ‘Cuidad Del Sol’ is another perfect example of how younger artists are bringing external influences into regional Mexican music for new audiences. His 2021 album Las Dos Caras del Amor triggered a 700% increase in streams on SoundCloud, and his self-described “Chicano rocker” sound has accelerated the evolution of the sierreño sub-genre. He’s also fully aware of the cross-border appeal of his sound, telling SoundCloud: “Spanish is a very romantic language. You say sentences in Spanish, and it doesn’t feel the same way in English. You can listen to my music in any scene, wherever you are in love or not. I also focus a lot on the melodies. If someone doesn't speak Spanish, they can still feel the vibes.”

To find out more about regional Mexican music on SoundCloud, watch the recent Scenes documentary on Música Mexicana, presented by Toyota.

Share this story