Some of the best known artists of the Latin ballad are Julio Iglesias, José Luis Rodriguez, Luis Miguel, Camilo Sesto, Emmanuel, Nino Bravo, Roberto Carlos, Ricardo Montaner, Raphael and José José among others. Because of its difficulty, the Latin balladeers are often recognized as skilled singers such as the case of Nino Bravo, José José, Luis Miguel or Raphael. In recent decades it has become the dominant musical genre of Latin pop.
The Latin or romantic ballad has its origin in the Latin American bolero in the 1950s (Lucho Gatica, Leo Marini), but also in the romantic song in Italian (Nicola Di Bari) and French (Charles Aznavour) in the 1960s and 1970s.
In Mexico, the first ballad that is registered as such is "Sonata de Amor" (Sonata of Love) of Mario Alvarez in 1961. In 1965 the famous bolero singer-songwriter Armando Manzanero, recorded his first ballad, "Pobres besos míos" (My Poor Kisses).
The heyday of the ballad was reached in the mid-1970s, where artists such as José José, Camilo Sesto, Raphael, Roberto Carlos, Rocío Dúrcal and others released a big number of hits. The main hits of José José were "El triste" (The Sad One), "La nave del olvido" (The Ship of Forgetfullness), "Te extraño" (I Miss You, also written by Manzanero), "Amar y querer" (To love and To want), or "Gavilán o paloma" (Hawk or Dove), "El pasado" (The Past), "Volcán" (Volcano) or "Lo que no fue no será" (What Never Was Will Never Be). By Roberto Carlos the songs "Amigos" (Friends) or "Detalles" (Details). By Camilo Sesto the hits "Fresa Salvaje" (Wild Strawberry), "Perdóname" (Forgive Me) or "Vivir Así es Morir de Amor" (To Live Like This is to Die of Love). Rocío Dúrcal enjoyed worldwide success and was known as "La Dama de la canción" (The Lady of Song). Her successful ballads include "Costumbres" (Customs), "Amor Eterno" (Eternal Love), "Diferentes" (Different), among many others that were released in Latin America. These songs are widely known today in Latin America.
From the 1990s, globalization and media internationalization processes that integrated contributed to the ballad's spread international spread and further homogenize around a common Latin identity. As part of the Latin Americanization of the United States and the dominant presence in the genre of multinational record labels, Miami has become the main producer of ballads which in turn has fed back trends of migration of Latino and Hispanic performers, producers and musicians to that city. By the turn of the 2010s however, Latin ballads have begun to lose popularity as uptempo Latin genres such as bachata, reggaeton, and Spanish-language electropop music have gained popularity with the Hispanic audience in the radio.
The ethnomusicologist Daniel Party defines the romantic ballad as "a love song of slow tempo, played by a solo singer accompanied by an orchestra usually" .
The ballad and bolero are often confused and songs can fall in one or the other category without too much presicion. The distinction between them is referring primarily to a more sophisticated and more metaphorical language and subtle bolero, compared with a more direct expression of the ballad.
Party stressed that the romantic ballad derive from "Latin common sensibility" He draws on the research of Jesus Martin-Barbero to highlight that the romantic ballad is an expression of a broader cultural process, called by Martin-Barbero as "emotional integration in Latin America", a phenomenon that would explain a generalization of the ways of feeling and express the emotions of the Latinos, through gestures, sounds, rhythms and cadences common literary devices, linked in turn to the telenovela.