The Top 64 Tangos Ever


The commonly held implicit agreement that poor quality old records sound good does not necessarily hold true in our selection.  We factored in the impact of the singer at the time of production but our priorities for producing what we believe to be a unique list of tango are (1) What is the quality of the music today?; (2) how explicit is this tango for dancing? (3) How innovative is this tango when it was produced? We are Old School only in baseball. We are not Old School in much else, including tango.  If J. Balvin sang a tango, we would probably like it, so if you want to debate over which Gardel 78RPM is better (or worse), this might not be your list. In the end, our thinking here is very similar to our criteria for the top 64 novels, a genre in which we supposedly have more professional expertise. But we definitely know what makes us want to dance tango and what does not, and after we have finished our analytics, our metrics and consulting our taxi driver fanatic of classic old tango in Medellín, Colombia, this is still a factor. Working toward this list took a whlle; we started debating with taxi drivers in Medellín in 1975. Taxi drivers in Medellín still like Pablo Escobar and old school tango sung by Gardel, who died in Medellín in the 1930s. Since thing, everything about Gardel has been even more iconic than it already is in Buenos Aires and Paris.)


64. “Rayuela” by Tango 9. A tango named after the famous novel by Argentine writer Julio Cortázar. 

63. “A Media Luz” by Julio Iglesias. A reworked classic tango sung by a modern star from Spain.

62. “Hernando’s Hideaway” by Doris Day. We cannot believe we like Doris Day doing this song, but we do.

61. “Mi Buenos Aires Querido” by Carlos Gardel. With Buenos Aires as the subject, best stay with the origional versión. 

60. “ Volver” by Luis Miguel. Given how classic this Gardel song is, we wanted and really nice rendition, which this is.

59. “Argentinean Tango” by Zamar. Among the more avant-garde tangos on our list. 

58. “Sus Ojos se Cerraron” by Carlos Gardel

57. “El amor desolado” by Jorge Falcón

56. “Cuesta abajo” by Carlos Gardel

55. “La última copa” by Jorge Falcón

54. “Yira Yira” Carlos Gardel

53. “Buscándote” Ricardo Ruiz

52. “No está” Alberto Podestá

51. “Pasional” Jorge Falcón

50. “Tres esquinas” Angel Vargas 

49 “Hernando’s Hideaway” by Stilleto Sisters

48. “Mi confesión” Gotán Projet

47. “Hernando’s Hideaway”  by Claudius Azner.

46. “Peligro” by Gotán Project

45. “Por una cabeza” by Carlos Gardel

44. “Hernando’s Hideaway” by Harry Connick Jr.

43. “Arrabal” by Gotán Project’

42. 42. “Hernando’s Hideaway” by Alan Cumming, Reed Kelly in Tell Mama Broadway Backwards

41. “La cruz del sur” by Gotán Project

40.  “Por una cabeza” by Katica Ilenyi

39. “La última curda” by Tango 9

38. “Que me van a hablar de amor” by Julio Sosa

37. “Epoca” by Gotán Project

36. “Tango Cambalache” by Julio Sosa

35. “El Choclo” by Katica & Ankó Ilenyi

34. “Mi dolor” by Juan D’Arienzo, who was not only a composer, but also pianist and band leader.

33. “Hernando’s Hideaway” by Ella Fitzgerald

32. “Nueve puntos” by Carlos di Sarli.

31. “Tango de demain” by Georges Moustaki. Very retro, kind of the Hunter Pence of tango. 

30. “Narco Tango” by Carlos Libedinski.

29. “Rencor” by Julio Sosa

28 “Piazzola Suite” by Tango 9.

27. “Rubias de New York” by Carlos Gardel

26. “Póquer” by Leopoldo Federico, El Arranque

24. “Oblivian” by Astor Piazzollo

23. “Casas Viejas” by Francisco Canaro

22. “El día que me quieras” by Carlos Gardel

21. “Milonga de mis amores” by Francisco Canaro. 

20. “Uno” by M Mores and E. Santos

19. “La tropilla de la Zunda” by Carlos Libedinksy. This is a non-traditional, wild tango.

18. “Adiós, muchachos” by Julio César Sanders, who was composer and pianist.

17.”Por una cabeza” by Carlos Gardel. (The original, as opposed to #40 sung by a Russian; for now, we are just getting the Russians into the conversation. Next year we might switch the order of #20 and #40.

16.  “Mi Buenos Aires Querido” Carlos García.

15. “Rubias de New York” by Carlos Gardel 

14. “Invierno” by Francisco Canaro.

13. ”La Milonga de Buenos Aires” by Francisco Canaro. 

12. “Poema” by Francisco Canaro.

11. “Soñar y nada más” Francisco Canaro. One of Canaro’s most popular tangos still today. Canaro was a composer and violinist.

10. “Libertango” by Sexteto Mayor.

9. “Triunfal” by Astor Piazzolla 

8. “Cambaleche” by Enrique Santos Discépelos

7. “Oh These Dark Eyes” by Tango 9

6. “A Media Luz” by Carlos Gardel, the original part of the trilogy.  (see #63 for Julio Iglesias version; we like the salsa version too, but does not fit on this list). 

5. “Tango Jalousie” by Alfred House and his Tango Orchestra.

4. “El choclo” by Bajofondo with Mexican singer Julieta Vanegas. A tango classic redone by Juan D’Arienzo

3. “La comparsita” by Carlos Gardel

2. “Santa María (Del Buen Ayre)” by Gotán Project. With roots in Buenos Aires and Paris, Gotán Project was formed in 1999. The musicians are Argentine, French and Swiss. Provided music to action film “Knight and Day” with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

1. “Volver” by Plácido Domingo. A Carlos Gardel classic in the voice of a modern master.


Top 64 Guitarists (with more than a little help from our friend Erik)


1. Jimi Hendrix

2. Yngwie Malmsteen

3. Keith Richards

4. Chuck Berry

5. Paul Guilbert

6. Eric Clapton

7. Jimmy Page

8. Steve Vai

9. Stevie Ray Vaughn

10. BB King

11. Eddie Van Helen 

12. Jeff Beck

13. David Gilmour

14. Joe Satriani

15. Freddy King

16. Albert King

17. Neil Young

18. John Petrucci

19. Frank Zappa

20. Shawn Lane

21. Tony lommi (Anthony Frank lommi)

22. Marty Friedman

23. Bo Diddley

24. Zakk Wylde

25. Prince

26. Randy Rhoads

27. Tom Morello

28. John 5

29. Duane Allman

30. Les Paul

31. James Burton

32. Jason Becker

33. Buckethead (Brian Patrick Carroll)

34. Chat Atkins

35. Buddy Guy

36.Angus Young

37. Brian May

38. Jonny Ramone

39. John Lee Hooker

40. Lind Wray

41. Jerry Garcia

42. Muddy Waters

43. Ritchie Blackmore

44. Slash (Saul Hudson, born 1965)

45. Frank Gambale

46. Dick Dale

47. Bobby Krieger

48. Blues Saraceno

49. Michael Angelo Batio

50. Mke Campbell

51. Santana (Csrlos Santana, born 1947)

52. Buddy Holly

53. Dimebag Darrell (Darrell Lance Abbott, 1966-2004)

54. Uli John Roth

55. T-Bone Walker

56. John Lennon

57. Jason Becker

58. Joe Bonamassa

59. Scott Ian

60. John Kay

61. Warren DeMartini ("Torch")

62. Dave Davis

63. Willie Nelson

64. Bruce Springsteen 

[Our research indicates more readers of this website follow sad songs than public intellectuals, so we offer music fans our introduction to great world thinkers. That done, here is a challenge: can you guess which is the most likely preferred song of each of these thinkers?

                                                                        64 SADDEST SONGS IN THE WORLD

The particularity of our lists is that almost all of them are hybrid and diverse combinations of genres , cultures and/or nations. Thus, our rankings, in this way, different from the typical linear rankings available. Our non-linear 64 saddest songs are a mix of blues, country, R&B, soul and pop from USA; ranchera from México; despecho from Colombia; bolero from Cuba and elsewhere; tango from Argentina and elsewhere; fado from Portugal; pop from Brasil and France. We actually think the Portuguese fado could well the very saddest songs any human could sing, but they are not that well known outside Portugal. Here are a few fados and the rest.

1. “The Thrill is Gone” BB King (USA).

2. “Fire and Rain” James Taylor (USA)

3. “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” Willie Nelson (USA)

4. “Adiós amor,” Cristián Nodal (México)

5. “Don’t Leave me Now” by The Supremes (USA)

6.  “Volver” by Carlos Gardel (Argentina). We prefer the Plácido Domingo version of this song. 

7. “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton, (USA)

8. “Tristezas” (Various, bolero from  Cuba, 1885)

9. “I Never Loved a Man” by Aretha Franklin, (USA)

10. “Déjame el Bar” by Olga Valquiria (Colombia)

10. “Déjame el Bar” by Olga Valquiria (Colombia)

11. “Dance me to the End of Love” Leonard Cohen (Canada)

12. “Por tu Maldito Amor” by Vicente Fernández (México)

13. “Depois” by Marissa Monte (Brazil)

14. “El amor que perdimos” by Prince Royce (Dominican Republic)

15. “I Fall to Pieces” Patsy Kline (USA)

16. “Without You” (“Si No Estás Tu” in Spanish) Harry Nilsson (USA)

17. “Wicked Game” Chris Isaak (USA)

18. “It’s Too Late Baby,” Carole King (USA)

19. “I Will Always Love You,” Whitney Houston (USA)

20. “Give Me a Reason,” Tracy Chapman (USA)

21. “Bésame Mucho” (Bolero version, Andrea Bocelli)

22. “Hurt,” by Johnny Cash (USA)

23. “Holding Back the Years” (Simply Red, Remastered Version 2008)

24. “Candy,” by Paulo Nutini (Scotland)

25. “Cucurucuchu,” Lola Beltrán (México)

26. “Coracão, Gairota” Amalia Rodriguez (Portugal, fado)

27. “Pai” Fábio Júnior (Brazil)

28. “Te lo pido por favor,” Juan Gabriel (México)

29. “Cancão do Mar,” Amália Rodriguez (Portugal, fado)

30. “Clarisse” Legião Urbana (Brazil)

31. “Kiss of Life” Sade (USA)

32. “I Can’t Make you Love Me” B

34. “Stand by Me,” Prince Royce (Dominican Republic, bachata version)

35. “Je l’aime mourir,” Shakira (Colombia)

36. “Dos Gardenias,” Ibrahim Ferrer (Cuban bolero, Ferrer versión)

37. “Cryin’ Time Again,” Ray Charles (USA)

38. “Breathe Me,” Sia (USA)

39. “My Heart Will Go On,” Celine Dione (USA)

41. “O Bebedo é A Equilabrista,” Elis Regina (Brazil)

42. “Tragos de Amigo Licor,” Ramón Ayala (México)

43. “Rehab,” Amy Winehouse (USA)

44. “Cordinome Bella-Flor,” Cazuza (Brazil)

45. “Consider Me Gone,” Reba McEntire (USA)

46. “Across the Lines,” Tracy Chapman (USA)

47. “If We Make It Through December,” Merle Haggard (USA)

48. “I Have Never Loved a Man,” Aretha Franklin (USA)

49. “The River,” P. J. Harvey (USA)

50. “But Will You Love Me Tomorrow” Carole King (USA, we like Amy Winehouse version equally).

51. “Seven Spanish Angels,” Willie Nelson and Ray Charles (USA)

52. “Eu Sem Voce,” Paula Fernandez (Brazil)

53. “El re-encuentro de los daños” Gloria Trevi (México)

54. “Como han pasado los años” Rocío Durcal (México)

55. “La Diana,” Diomedes Diaz (Colombia, vallenato)

56. “Eres Mía” Romeo Santos (Dominican Republic)

57. “Outra Vez” Roberto Carlos (Brazil)

58. “With or Without You,” U2 (USA)

59. “Aí Ja Era,” Jorge e Maleus (Brazil)

60. “Someone Like You,” Adele (USA)

61. “Por Enquanto,” Cássia Eller (Brazil)

62. “Avec Le Temps,” Léo Ferré (France)

63. “Casi un bolero,” Ricky Martin (Puerto Rico)

64. “Sensacões,” Paula Fernandes (Brazil)


On the Bubble: Liane La Havas “Gone”; Romeo Santos “Yo También”; Suzanne Vega “Luka”; Jeff Buckley “Hallelujah”;Queen, “The Show Must Go On”; John Lennon, “Let It Be”; Shelly Lynne, “Heaven’s Only Days Down the Ro



TOP 64 Female Vocalists