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Mon Laferte’s Best Songs: Tracks of Love and Courage

A Chilean native with a Mexican soul and an iconoclastic instinct, she’s been at the forefront of revitalizing the bolero.

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Mon Laferte
Photo: Medios y Media/Getty Images

Mon Laferte’s songs can range from declarations of free love to wrenching meditations on amor’s aftermath to clarion calls for social justice. A Chilean native with a Mexican soul and an iconoclastic instinct, she’s been at the forefront of revitalizing the bolero, Latin America’s communal love song, then going beyond. Both wholeheartedly rootsy and brashly cosmopolitan, Laferte’s contemporary fusions revel in the legacies of rock and blues and explore traditional Chilean music and the popular genres of Mexico, her adopted home, where she became a citizen in 2022. Whether she’s accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, singing full throttle backed by a Latin big band, or experimenting with electronic effects in a studio, strength and emotion are a constant of Laferte’s voice.

Born Norma Monserrat Bustamante Laferte in 1983 in Viña del Mar, Chile, Laferte studied guitar as a child and released her first album in 2003 (as Monserrat Bustamente). At the time, she was known in Chile for her role in a television music contest called Rojo Fama Contrafama. She started on her own path as an artist when she moved to Mexico in 2007, changing her name to Mon Laferte to signify a new start after being treated for thyroid cancer.

Listen to the best Mon Laferte songs now.

While her seductive image has referenced femme fatales of the past, Laferte is clearly a female artist for a conscious era, a role that includes calling out things that matter, and speaking out on women’s and LGBTQ rights, class inequality, and xenophobia. Laferte has always walked that walk, sometimes on the red carpet. At the 2021 Latin Grammys, she bared her seven-month pregnant belly in a show of women’s pride and solidarity. At the 2019 ceremonies, she exposed her chest, upon which was written the words, “En Chile torturan violan y matan” (“In Chile, they torture, rape and kill”), coinciding with mass demonstrations in the country.

But Laferte’s songs can speak for themselves, combining courage and intimacy, spirituality and everyday experience. It’s clear that she has a lot more to say. Here are ten of her best.

“Tu falta de querer,” 2015

Laferte rips open her heart in this torch and twang number born during dim days after the end of a seven-year relationship. “Tu falta de querer” was a defining song for the singer-songwriter: In the wake of the popularity of the track, she received her first Latin Grammy nominations, for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album. The song’s surreal video, shot in a historic gold and silver mining town in Mexico, celebrates Laferte’s characteristic irreverence: dressed as a bride, she is carried on a platform like a saint in an Easter procession through lonely cobblestone streets.

Mon Laferte - Tu Falta De Querer (Video Oficial)

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“La Trenza,” 2017

A luscious acoustic ballad that showcases Laferte’s love for the Latin American songbook, “La Trenza” references the support given her by her grandmother, a singer and composer of boleros and tangos who, she has said, told her to always sing with her heart.

Mon Laferte - La Trenza (Audio Oficial)

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“Mi buen amor,” 2017

Laferte lets the good times roll with Spanish star Enrique Bunbury to create a sing-along classic rock ballad ready-made for road trip playlists.

“Amárrame,” 2017

The provocative cumbia-pop song “Amárrame” (“Tie Me Up”) could seem inconsistent with Laferte’s feminist point of view if not taken, as she intended, as a playful ode to sexual freedom. Singing in duet with Juanes, whose Latin superstar power took Laferte to new heights of mainstream success, it won the singer her first Latin Grammy, for Best Alternative Song.

Mon Laferte - Amárrame (Video Oficial) ft. Juanes

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“El Beso,” 2018

To the beat of cumbia, punctuated by seductive horns of the South American carnival sound la murga, Laferte delivers an anytime party song. The good-time fusion on “El Beso” echoes the celebratory side of Latin Alternative rock that first emerged in the 1980s with bands like Argentina’s Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.

“Que se sepa nuestro amor,” 2021

Laferte’s romance with Regional Mexican music is in full bloom in this song featuring ranchera singer Alejandro Fernández in an opulent production with the punch of a mariachi band. While using a traditionally male-dominated genre as her medium, the song’s title,“Que se sepa nuestro amor,” (“Let Our Love Be Known”), proclaims her free love message.

Mon Laferte, Alejandro Fernández - Que Se Sepa Nuestro Amor (Lyric Video)

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“Cumbia para olivdar,” 2018

The title track of Laferte’s 2018 album, Norma, resurrects her given first name, which she abandoned in favor of the short form middle name, Monserrat. “I don’t like…Norma,” she has said. “It sounds hard, and I’m not a rigid person.” The ten songs on that Latin Grammy Album of the Year winner, recorded with a full Latin orchestra in one session at Los Angeles’ Capitol Studios, tell the story of a relationship from start to “Funeral.” A highlight is “Cumbia para olvidar” a goodbye-to-love song whose succulent beat backs Laferte at her most voluptuous. “Cumbia para olvidar” (“Cumbia for Forgetting”) is a soundtrack to dancing your troubles away.

Mon Laferte - Cumbia Para Olvidar (Grabado En Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA)

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“Se me va A Quemar el corazón,” 2021

Laferte plays the bull to a heartless bullfighter in the video for “Se me va a quemar el corazón,” her voice tortuously twisting a spare ballad of love and hate in the style of one of her idols, Mexican great Chavela Vargas.

Mon Laferte - Se Me Va A Quemar El Corazón

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“Te juro que volveré,” 2023

The slowed-down technologically assisted cumbia rebajada style was the framework for this track, an emotional story of migration that reflects Laferte’s own journey from Chile to Mexico. In the song, a young woman goes off to make a living, promising her mother she would send for her once she’s settled. Laferte has explained in various interviews that, in her case, it was her grandmother to whom she made the promise, but success arrived too late for her to keep it; her grandmother passed away before she could make the trip home.

Mon Laferte - Te juro que volveré (Visualizer)

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“Tenochtitlán,” 2023

¿Cuánto le costó? ¿Quién se la cogió? Si es una puta sudaca tercermundista… (“How much did it cost her? Who did she sleep with? She’s a third-world South American slut…”)

Laferte, true to form, does not hold back in the words to the dramatic “Tenochtitlán,” a reflection on social inequality set to a trip-hop beat. Distorted vocals and synth effects surround lyrics she has described as representing “all the times during my life that I’ve been invalidated; that implication that you’re not good enough…. I can assure you that all people have been judged by prejudices at some point.”

Listen to the best Mon Laferte songs now.

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