Santeria (song)

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Single by Sublime
from the album Sublime
Released January 7, 1997
Recorded 1996
Length 3:03
Label MCA
Writer(s) Bradley Nowell, Bud Gaugh, Eric Wilson[1]
Producer(s) Paul Leary & David Kahne
Sublime singles chronology
"What I Got"
"Wrong Way"

"Santeria" is a song by American rock band Sublime on their 1996 album Sublime. The song was released as a single on January 7, 1997. Despite the fact the song was released after the death of lead singer Bradley Nowell, Santeria along with "What I Got" are often considered the band's signature songs.[2]

Composition and context[edit]

The song includes the bassline and guitar riff from Sublime's earlier song "Lincoln Highway Dub" off the 1994 album Robbin' the Hood.[3] Santería refers to the religion practiced in the Caribbean in which Yorùbá orishas are syncretized with Roman Catholic saints.

The song tells the story of a jealous ex-boyfriend who is planning to take revenge on the man who stole his girlfriend. The man then decides to find a new girlfriend, instead. However, the man then mentions using violent force as he speaks of "popping a cap in Sancho" and "putting that barrel straight down Sancho's throat" if he ever sees him again. The lead singer of Sublime, Bradley Nowell, refers to the man as "sancho" and his ex-girlfriend as "heina."[4] In Mexico, a man who steals another man's girlfriend is often referred to as "sancho"[5] while a man's woman or girlfriend is referred to as "heina," which is adapted from the Spanish word "reina," meaning queen in English.[6]

Nowell died shortly before the release of this song from a heroin overdose.[7]


A music video was filmed in 1997 after the death of lead singer Bradley Nowell, who makes a cameo via stock footage. During the video, his beloved Lou Dog is seen along with the other members of Sublime remembering him. The video was a visualization of the story told in the song in the form of a Western, and featured Tom Lister, Jr. as Sancho. "Santeria" was a moderate U.S. crossover hit in the spring of 1997, cracking the Top 5 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart as well as reaching #43 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart. It is also a playable track on the 2008 video game Guitar Hero World Tour, and was released as a downloadable song for Rock Band 3 in 2012 as well as Rocksmith 2014 in 2014. The song was featured in the movies Idle Hands, Knocked Up, Remember the Daze and This is 40.


Santeria has been covered by:

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1997) Peak
Canadian Singles Chart 90
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Airplay 43
U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks 3
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks 38


External links[edit]