Whether you’re a tango enthusiast or just a lover of beautiful music, classic tango dance music is appreciated by many across the world. Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Cuba, and many other Spanish-speaking countries boast of their rich cultural heritage and are known to belt out mesmerising renditions that will stay with years to come. We have handpicked 11 classic tango songs which you should add to your playlist right away.
1. Por Una Cabeza - Itzhak Perlman
Por Una Cabeza is listed amongst the most celebrated classic tango songs of all time. Although this song was penned down by Alfredo Le Pera and composed by Carlos Gardel in 1935, it gained popularity to a wider spectrum of an audience after it appeared in the famous scene in 'Scent of a Woman' where Al Pacino spontaneously performs with a young lady.
2. El Día Que Me Quieras – Carlos Gardel
Besides its mellifluous composition, this song is also applauded for its amazing lyrics. Sung by legendary artiste Carlos Gardel, this rendition will always stay at the top of the classics.
3. Organito de la Tarde – Cátulo Castillo
Written by illustrious tango argentine artiste José González Castillo and composed by his Cátulo Castillo in 1925, this father-son duet is still considered to be one of the most preferred classics in tango performances worldwide. One of the most common versions now danced to is Organito de la Tarde by Carlos di Sarli y su Orchestra Tipica. Watch Fabian Peralta and Josefina Bermudez Avila perform this tango - filmed to perfection by 030tango!
4. Milonga Sentimental – Sebastián Piana
Another classic piece of art by revered artiste Sebastián Piana, Milonga Sentimental is known for its sombre lyrics coupled with harmonious music. It is now often played at tango events worldwide and one of the popular versions is by violinist and composer Francesco Canaro.
5. Jamás Retornarás – Miguel Calo
Jamás Retornarás means ‘you will never return’ and it is one of the many romantic compositions of legendary orchestra director Miguel Calo. It is the story of a man waiting for hs lover to come back to him, to no avail. Raúl Berón's beautiful voice is making it a tango classic of a lifetime.
6. Al Compas de un Tango – Lucio Demare
Known to score several compositions for Argentine movies, Lucio Demare also has a lot to offer in the world of tango music. Al Compas de un Tango and other renditions from his widely popular album Tango Guapo is still a hit at many tango events.
7. Toda mi Vida – Aníbal Troilo
Aníbal Troilo created magic by teaming with illustrious tango musicians like Cátulo Castillo, Homero Manzi, Francisco Fiorentino, Edmundo Rivero, and many others. Toda mi Vida, ‘All my Life’ in translation, is one of the many tangos still remembered and very popular among tango dancers worldwide.
8. Bahia Blanca – Carlos di Sarli
Known as the ‘The gentleman of tango’, Carlos di Sarli used to be a crowning star in his times. Bahia Blanca is an instrumental which owns its name to Carlos di Sarli’s hometown. His playful and subtle musical style is a joy to listen and dance to. Watch Roxana Suarez and Sebastian Achaval dance Bahia Blanca.
9. Vida Mia – Osvaldo Fresedo
Vida Mia is one of the many melodious tango songs composed by famous Argentine artist and director of tango orchestra Osvaldo Fresedo. Notably, he is known to have the longest recording career in tango music.
10. Nueve De Julio – Juan d'Arienzo
There’s a reason why Juan d'Arienzo is known as ‘the king of the beat’. His compositions still gives goose bumps to tango music aficionados who love his rhythmically driven tangos and Nueve De Julio is one of them.
11. Takes Two to Tango - Pearl Bailey
We are already aware of the popular phrase “takes two to tango” and use it quite often in many contexts, right? The phrase owes its origin to one of the most famous tango songs of the same title sung by Pearl Bailey in 1952. Although this tango song is well-known, it is not made for Argentine tango dancing.
This is just a scratch on the surface of the world of classic tango music. If you have any other legendary compositions to suggest, get in touch and let us know what your favorite tango music is.