In August, Café Tacvba frontman Rubén Albarrán was named 49th in Billboard’s list of “50 Greatest Rock Lead Singers of All Time,” sharing the accolade with the likes of Mick Jagger, Stevie Nicks, Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant and Kurt Cobian (placed first to fifth).
Said Billboard: “With his unparalleled stage presence, Albarrán intertwines exciting unpredictability and raw vulnerability with boundless passion. His voice is a multifaceted wonder, whether unleashing a crystalline coo that can pierce your heart or an ominous growl that can turn severe and bitter. On stage, his ability to connect with the crowd is unrivaled, mixing a perfect storm of sardonic humor, silly dance moves, native pride, and Latin rock mystique.”
The only other Latino singer to make the top 50 list is Gustavo Cerati, the late lead singer of Argentina’s Soda Stereo—named in 33rd place.
Formed in 1989, Café Tacvba’s musical style covers a wide variety of genres, although it is most commonly labeled as Latin Alternative/Rock en Español. Their music has been heavily influenced by Mexico’s indigenous population and folk music traditions, but also by punk and electronic music. The band has won ten Latin Grammys and one Grammy. The messages they express in their music often reflect important social and political causes.
Albarrán has always pushed gender norms through provocative lyrics, and has occasionally worn a skirt on stage at concerts.
According to latinousa.org, Café Tacvba’s most popular songs include “La Huasanga,” a cover of a son huasteco song that features a fiddle player; “Ingrata,” a mock-norteña song that they stopped playing in protest of femicides in Mexico; “La Chica Banda,” a ska song with female vocals; “Chilanga Banda,” a rap song with slang from Mexico City; and “Aviéntame,” a ballad from the soundtrack of the movie Amores Perros.
All the band’s songs are readily available on streaming channels such as Spotify and Amazon Music.