The Best of Portuguese Music From Portugal: 5 Songs You Need to Hear Right Now
When it comes to language learning, Portuguese often plays second fiddle to more popular Romance languages (ahem, Spanish). But there is something about Portugal that is instantly recognizable and utterly indelible – its music.
Portuguese music from Portugal is often associated with soulful and profound melancholic lyrics and singing cracked by longing. In fado, the most popular musical genre from Portugal, musicians write about the hardships of life, balancing both heartbreak and resignation with hope. Portuguese music may be described best by using a Portuguese word —saudade, which is a combination of longing and nostalgia.
If you’re learning Portuguese, listening to Portuguese music is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the Portuguese culture while you improve your listening skills and expand your vocabulary. Read our pick of the best Portuguese songs and see how much you can learn from music!
Canção do mar, by Amalia Rodrigues
Amalia Rodrigues is known as the Rainha do Fado (“Queen of Fado”), for her instrumental role in popularizing fado internationally. She is also the best-selling Portuguese artist in history. At the peak of her career, leading poets were writing specifically for her.
One of her most beloved songs, Canção do mar, is wonderful if you want to learn common Portuguese verbs such as sing, dance, live, and dream.
Se eu bailar no meu batel
If I dance in my vessel
Não vou ao mar cruel
I won’t go to the cruel sea
E nem lhe digo aonde eu fui cantar
And I won’t say where I go to sing
Sorrir, bailar, viver, sonhar contigo
To smile, to dance, to live, to dream….of you
Want to hear more songs like Canção do mar? Then make sure you save our Portuguese Spotify playlist for later!
Barco negro, by Mariza
Sometimes called the new queen of fado, Mariza is one of those rare singers who combine impressive vocal prowess with a bewitching stage presence. A rightful heiress to the legendary Rodrigues, Mariza started her career by singing Amália’s songs, but has come a long way since.
In songs like Barco negro, she proves that she has found a unique and personal musical voice.
De manhã, que medo que me achasses feia
In the morning, I’m afraid you’d find me ugly
Acordei tremendo deitada na areia
I woke up shivering lying on the sand
Mas logo os teus olhos disseram que não
But then your eyes said no
E o sol penetrou no meu coração
And the sun penetrated my heart
Vi depois numa rocha uma cruz
I then saw a cross on a rock
E o teu barco negro dançava na luz
And your black boat danced in the light
Vi teu braço acenando entre as velas já soltas
I saw your arm waving between the already loose candles
Dizem as velhas da praia que não voltas
The old ladies on the beach say you won’t come back
A much more complex song than Canção do mar, Barco negro is a sample of contemporary Portuguese music at its best.
It’s also an ideal song for advanced students who want to learn Portuguese tenses. In the verses above, you can find verbs in the past, present, future, and conditional forms.
Espera, by Fernando Daniel
Fernando Daniel was born in 1996, which makes him the youngest artist on this list and one of the youngest representatives of Portuguese music in Europe. He first appeared in the entertainment industry in 2014, on the Portuguese version of The X Factor, where he finished in 4th place.
Later, in 2016, he appeared in The Voice Portugal, became an instant audience favourite, and went on to win the show in December that year.
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Fernando Daniel is known for his soulful singing and romantic songs. His simple lyrics are ideal for beginner learners who want to learn common Portuguese verb phrases and expressions listening to Portuguese music.
Onde é que vais
Where are you going
Espera por mim
Wait for me
Eu vou ser melhor por ti
I will be better for you
Sempre que sais
Wherever you go
Eu não quero ficar por aqui
I don’t want to stick around
P’ra Frente É Que É Lisboa, by Os Quatro e Meia
Os Quatro e Meia is a sextet from Coimbra, Portugal. The band originated in 2013 with the objective of raising funds for an arts academy, but the audience embraced them in such a way that they decided to pursue a musical career.
To this day, all of the members have other professions besides music: there are three doctors, two computer engineers, and a music teacher. In the last few years, the band has gained nationwide recognition and is now one of the most successful acts in Portuguese music.
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In P’ra Frente É Que É Lisboa (Ahead It’s Lisbon), one of their most popular songs, the band sings about their everyday troubles in a hopeful manner.
E acordo sonolento, rabugento
And I wake up sleepy, grumpy
Ruminando um lamento por ter de ir trabalhar
Ruminating a regret for having to go to work
Mas penso positivo e concluo que estar vivo
But I stay optimistic and conclude that being alive
É motivo mais que bom pra me animar
It’s more than good reason to cheer me up
As you can see, this is a great song if you want to learn adjectives with Portuguese music!
Gosto de ti, by David Carreira
David Carreira is a Portuguese singer and actor. N.1, his debut album (2011), reached number 1 in the Portuguese charts and earned him a big international following. Carreira is a wonderful artist for language-lovers as he sings in Portuguese, English, and French.
Gosto de ti, one of his most successful singles, is a simple love song that will teach you a lot of words and expressions related to love and relationships.
Quando não estou bem
When I’m not fine
É a ti que eu acordo nem que seja pra falar
It’s you I resort to, if only to talk
E nessas chamadas perdemos as horas
And in these calls we lose the track of time
E já são 3 da manha
And it’s already 3 in the morning
É mais uma madrugada passada
It’s another dawn
A contar o que estou a passar
Telling what I’m going through
E eu sei que em ti posso confiar
And I know I can trust you
Whether you’re in the mood for a pop love song or a poetic fado, Portuguese music has a lot to offer for both music and language lovers.
Want to go beyond songs and learn Portuguese with a native tutor? Explore our Free Trial Portuguese Classes and get your first lesson at no cost. We’ll match you with a professional tutor who will prepare a course tailored to your needs and interests. Contact us now to get started!