Narrative ballad based on a historic or real event, sung in Spanish, and passed down via the oral tradition in Mexico and the United States. The song often includes in the first verse the cast of characters, as well as the time and place of the events.
In the days before telephones and mass media, the corrido established itself in Mexican popular culture by bringing news to those who couldn't read. It was the people's tabloid, telling the tall tales of legendary revolutionaries and notorious bandits - those who had done something worth singing about.
--Sam Quinones, L.A. Weekly
(Some scholars dismiss the notion that news traveled through song: gossip travels faster, and the songs would merely celebrate already known exploits.)

While based on centuries old Spanish romance ballads, Americo Paredes has argued that the modern corrido likely began in Texas along the Mexican border, (based on the oldest complete written form, El Corrido de Kiansas (1860s)), as a musical form that could express the conflict between Mexican citizens, (who, as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, found themselves living in a different country than they had originally bargained for) and the Anglo Texans (also newly annexed into the United States).

El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez is arguably the most famous of the corridos, detailing the 1901 shooting of Karnes county Sheriff T.T. Morris by farmer Gregorio Cortez. This corrido got mainstream attention in Paredes' book, With His Pistol in His Hands, and its 1982 movie adaptation, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, starring Edward James Olmos.

Starting in the 1970s, bands like Los Tigres del Norte began having success singing narcocorridos-- ballads detailing the exploits of drug smugglers. Nowadays these ballads are often commissioned by the drug traffickers themselves. While thematically related to gangsta rap, musically the form is primarily an accordion-based polka.

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