27 Portuguese Songs to Add to Your Playlist Right Now
Portuguese songs are a ticket to fluency for free.
In this blog post, you’ll discover 27 of the best Portuguese songs to increase your vocabulary and experience Brazilian and Portuguese culture from home.
Plus, learn five tips to turn songs into study material and how to find more tunes beyond this curated list.
- Portuguese Rap and Hip-Hop Songs
- Portuguese Samba Songs
- 7. “Fotos Antigas” by Thiaguinho
- 8. “Vem Balançar” by Sambasonics
- 9. “Chiclete com Banana” by Gilberto Gil
- 10. “País Tropical” by Jorge Ben Jor
- 11. “Segura a Nega” by Clube do Balanço
- 12. “Carolina” by Seu Jorge
- 13. “Burguesinha” by Seu Jorge
- 14. “Zumbi” by Jorge Ben Jor
- 15. “Guerreiro” by Curumin
- 16. “Vou Deixar” by Paula Lima
- Portuguese Rock Songs
- Portuguese Pop and R&B Songs
- Brazilian Portuguese Songs
- Classic Portuguese Fado Songs
- How to Discover Portuguese Songs on Your Own
- 5 Powerful Tips to Learn Portuguese with Songs
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
Portuguese Rap and Hip-Hop Songs
1. “Céu Azul” by Charlie Brown Jr.
Charlie Brown Jr. were seasoned veterans in Brazil’s hip-hop scene, starting their shining career in 1992.
Unfortunately, their vocalist and founder died in 2013. Since then, the remaining band members decided not to use the band name out of respect for their departed colleague.
“Céu Azul” is very reminiscent of the band’s experimental nature.
They liked mixing and matching musical styles—particularly hip-hop and funk. This song’s mellow lyrics talk about living life to the fullest and sharing loving memories.
2. “Desabafo” by Marcelo D2
Marcelo D2 is one of Brazil’s best-known rappers renowned for mixing samba with his hip-hop beats.
“Desabafo” won him a nomination at the Latin Grammy Awards, among other local accolades.
The lyrics reflect a frustration with social inequality, crime and violence—referring to Biblical foes like Pontius Pilate and the Elite Squad protagonist Capitão Nascimento.
3. “A Chapa É Quente” by Emicida featuring Rael
“Chapa quente” is a slang term used to describe someone dangerous. So, A Chapa É Quente refers to a dangerous situation that’s heating up (“quente”).
This song talks about conflict, violence and social inequality, and was nominated for the 2017 Latin Grammy Awards’ Best Urban Song category.
Expect to learn a lot of colloquial language and slang from this one.
4. “Casa (Vem Fazer de Conta)” by Da Weasel
This song reflects life, love, relationships and the notion of being at home.
The rap tune doesn’t have a lot of slang, but it’s packed with essential, everyday vocabulary.
5. “Tudo Muda” by Dengaz ft. Matay
Dengaz has been in the industry since he was a teen, having gone through several musical phases—from hip-hop to reggae and back to hip-hop again.
“Tudo Muda” focuses on a positive outlook.
He’s telling the world that everything is fine. He made it through the tough times and is on a winning streak.
The emphasis is on the idea that everything can change instantly, for better or worse.
6. “Dialectos da Ternura” by Da Weasel
Da Weasel was a Portuguese hip-hop group that emerged in the 1990s. They were at their peak in the mid-2000s, making a powerful impression with their hip-hop tracks and beats.
“Dialectos da Ternura” is one of their most successful songs, earning international acclaim at the 2007 MTV Europe Music Awards.
The lyrics are a little bit raunchy, but not in a vulgar way—essentially, it’s a rap song about love and tenderness (ternura).
Portuguese Samba Songs
7. “Fotos Antigas” by Thiaguinho
Samba is an incredibly diverse style of music, so it’s only fair to represent it by adding a song that’s currently hitting the Brazilian airwaves.
Thiaguinho has been in the samba/pagode scene for several years. He began his career in 2003 as part of the group Exaltasamba, then went solo around 2009.
This song talks about a girl suffering from a broken heart—always looking at old photos (hence the song title) and thinking about what once was.
8. “Vem Balançar” by Sambasonics
The lyrics for this song are straightforward:
Let’s get down and groove, our music is black music, we’re mixing samba with rock, rock with samba
The only tricky part may be the word balançar.
It can mean swing, move back and forth, hang and oscillate. So as you might imagine, it’s useful for talking about dancing.
The verb can also mean to shift your weight entirely from one side to another with a lot of swing and attitude.
9. “Chiclete com Banana” by Gilberto Gil
Jackson do Pandeiro originally performed this song to critique those who’d dare to mix samba with rock, or “Miami with Copacabana.”
It was a huge hit for him in 1959, right when rock started to land.
Gilberto Gil is known to mix in plenty of rock, so it’s safe to assume that the exercise is a bit tongue-in-cheek when he’s singing it. His version is slow and well-enunciated, so it’s a good one to learn from.
As you listen, note the mentioned instruments—they’re essential to Brazilian culture.
10. “País Tropical” by Jorge Ben Jor
The video above is a live version of this famous hit. About two minutes in, Jorge transitions into “Spyro Gyra.”
Jorge Ben’s rhythmic base-like attack on his guitar was at the heart of the creation of samba rock, and the lyrics are an ode to Brazil.
You should know that while Flamengo—a word he says in the lyrics—does refer to the bird, Jorge is talking about being a fan of the Rio soccer club.
He’s got that, a girlfriend named Tereza, his friends and he’s living in a tropical country.
What more could a guy possibly want?
11. “Segura a Nega” by Clube do Balanço
Samba rock is a style of music, but also a style of dance particular to São Paulo and unknown to most other Brazilians.
When I was living in the city, this band played regular gigs there for samba rock dancers, and this was one of their hits.
It’s not too complicated to understand, but you do need a few key pieces of vocabulary to unlock what’s going on in the song:
- nega: While nega is a shortening of negra (black girl), it’s really a harmless way to say “gal” or “darling” to a girl of any color. So segura a nega means “hang on to your girl.”
- macaco velho não bota a mão na cumbuca: This phrase translates as “The old monkey doesn’t go sticking his hands in gourds.” That is, he’s too wise to get his hand stuck in there.
- malandro: My preferred translation for this is always “badass.” Some dictionaries would tell you it means scoundrel, crook or swindler.
- eu não quis ouvir: “I didn’t want to listen” or, in other words, I failed to listen to my mother’s advice to hang on to my dear girl.
12. “Carolina” by Seu Jorge
Seu Jorge’s ultra-infectious samba rock hit will carry you away. I can’t imagine not wanting to perfect one’s Portuguese after experiencing the song.
The singer is a man having woman problems. The lyrics tell us that she’s a “difficult woman to forget” and she’s not returning his calls.
This song gives you many ways to express your undying devotion to someone amazing, that maravilha feminina (feminine marvel) you can’t forget!
13. “Burguesinha” by Seu Jorge
The lyrics to this Seu Jorge song are a simple description of an upper-class Brazilian girl’s life who’s had everything handed to her.
Class distinctions are profound in Brazil, and this is an accurate—if not condescending—description of how some such women live between the hairdresser, the nightclub and the beach house.
14. “Zumbi” by Jorge Ben Jor
I strongly remember piecing apart these lyrics 10 years ago when I first started learning Portuguese, and tearing up as I finally figured out the meaning.
(Spoiler alert: skip the next paragraph if you want to experience that on your own.)
Zumbi was the last leader of a settlement of escaped slaves in Brazil.
This song provides a striking image of an African princess on a slave auction block, and the singer says, “eu quero ver quando Zumbi chegar o que vai acontecer“ (I want to see what will happen when Zumbi arrives).
To learn more about Zumbi, check out Black History Heroes. You can also boost your language skills by reading more about this song in Portuguese on Wikipedia.
15. “Guerreiro” by Curumin
This song’s lyrics are a bit more of a challenge to take apart than the others.
The key is that the singer (Curumin) sees himself as a warrior—a guy on a mission, looking for someone who he wants to come to him (vem pra mim).
Ginga is a sauntering walk—the singer tells us he’s rolling with the punches, swerving as necessary.
16. “Vou Deixar” by Paula Lima
The lyrics are pretty simple in this song from Paula Lima.
A man is in pursuit yet again, but the singer says, “vou deixar você chegar” (literally, “I’m going to let you arrive”).
She loves his smile and malícia—an evil deviousness often meant as a “so bad it’s good” appeal. So she’ll allow it. This time.
Portuguese Rock Songs
17. “O Rock do Rato” by Franco
If you’re wondering what São Paulo’s samba rock dancing looks like, you can see a bit of it in the above video. This song from Franco leans much more toward old-school rock and roll.
Roeu is the third person past tense of roer (to gnaw), so we find out about a rat gnawing on a Roman king’s clothes, eating a rock and then, somehow, boogie-woogie gets mixed with samba and becomes rock and roll.
18. “Eduardo e Mônica” by Legião Urbana
This classic Brazilian rock song tells the story of two people (Eduardo and Mônica) who fall in love, despite not having a single thing in common.
You’ll be exposed to Brazilian slang, cultural references and the occasional nod to the capital city (Brasilia, the couple’s home).
19. “Metamorfose Ambulante” by Raul Seixas
This is one of Raul Seixa’s most famous hits.
The song’s lyrics are rather complex, but it’s all about how the singer’s ideas, opinions and perspectives are always morphing and changing.
It’s ideal for advanced learners wanting to challenge themselves with nuanced language and imagery.
20. “O Homem do Leme” by Xutos & Pontapés
Another hit with advanced lyrics, this song tells the story of a man at the helm of a boat (leme) as he escapes from repression and forced ideologies.
It’s a good tune for intermediate-advanced learners to learn a few terms related to seaside voyages that they might not have previously been exposed to.
21. “Quem é Quem” by Xutos e Pontapés
These guys have been rocking the Portuguese airwaves since the 1980s but came into being much earlier than that.
Their most recent album was launched in 2014, but the song I chose gained traction before the turn of the decade.
“Quem é Quem” is poetic and politically charged, using metaphorical references about hungry hyenas and a blood-dripping sun to paint a picture of a nasty dictatorial regime.
Portuguese Pop and R&B Songs
22. “ABC” by David Carreira ft. Boss AC
David Carreira has done it all—he’s been a soccer player, a model, an actor and a singer.
His music is an eclectic mix of pop, dance, hip-hop and R&B, and his 2013 album even includes a collaboration with US rapper Snoop Dogg.
The song “ABC” is a lighthearted take on a love song—the earworm beats and lyrics are all about trying to get the attention of a seemingly uninterested lady.
23. “As Coisas” by Valas
This is quite a recent song and debut single by Valas.
The artist penned “As Coisas” to reflect a change in perspective—leaving negativity behind and trying to shift the focus to those things that truly matter.
He reminisces about his love, and how one person truly influenced his life for the better.
Brazilian Portuguese Songs
24. “Seus Planos” by Ivete Sangalo
Ivete Sangalo is one of the most prominent Axé singers around. Audiences have been jumping and jamming to her upbeat songs since the 1990s, and she’s performing up a storm to date.
“Seus Planos” is among her most recent releases.
It’s a love song all about being part of someone’s world and their lifelong plans.
25. “Sozinho” by Caetano Velozo
MPB (Música Popular Brasileira) is a genre that has shaped Brazilian music at large.
MPB originated in the 1960s, coinciding with Brazil’s military coup. Many of the lyrics of the time were crafted as a subtle form of protest against the regime.
Caetano Velozo is one of the best-known contemporary MPB singers, and Sozinho is among his famed creations. As its title (which translates to Alone) suggests, the lyrics are about solitude and self-reflection.
Classic Portuguese Fado Songs
26. “Chega de Saudade” by João Gilberto
The late João Gilberto is regarded as one of the pioneers of bossa nova music. In this song, he sings about sorrow and saudade (that feeling you get when you miss someone deeply).
You’ll get to see how diminutive words like peixinhos (little fish) and beijinhos (little kisses) are used, and plenty of repetitive phrases are employed to convey the singer’s sorrow.
Similarly, fado is one of the first genres people think of when talking about traditional Portuguese music.
Hailing from Lisbon, this musical style can be traced back to the 1820s and is known for its melancholic lyrics.
27. “Uma Casa Portuguesa” by Amália Rodrigues
Known as the “Queen of Fado” (or “A Rainha do Fado” in Portugal), Amália Rodrigues gained international acclaim with her fado songs and became a key figure in the genre’s revival in the 20th century.
This song is a poetic ode to the traditional Portuguese household.
As such, you can expect to brush up on daily terms relating to the various parts of a house, food and the seasons, among other words that paint a picture of hospitality and wholesomeness.
How to Discover Portuguese Songs on Your Own
Make use of Brazilian and Portuguese lyric sites
Lyric websites can be a great gateway to new songs. Most lyrics will have an accompanying YouTube music video you can listen to, and others might offer playlists.
These are the main ones to try:
Peruse the regional music charts
Looking at what’s trending helps you increase your vocabulary and stay up to date with Brazilian and Portuguese pop culture.
Watch local music channels if you’re confident enough to tackle the content. MTV Portugal and Brazil’s Multishow are the primary ones to browse.
Otherwise, scanning the chart-toppers is fairly easy.
Think outside the jukebox
Have you thought about how your study resources might introduce you to local music?
FluentU is one example of a language learning program that teaches you Portuguese while also introducing you to new music and culture.
FluentU uses authentic Portuguese content to introduce you to new slang, vocabulary and grammar structures.
When watching music videos, you can hover over words and grammar structures you don’t know in the interactive subtitles. A definition, pronunciation and example sentences will instantly appear, plus other videos that use it in context.
You might also find some hidden gems while you’re listening to podcasts, scouring some blogs or even watching a movie. The possibilities are endless.
Finally, go through YouTube, change the location settings (at the bottom of the page) to Brazil or Portugal and then click on their music section.
5 Powerful Tips to Learn Portuguese with Songs
1. Find songs you truly enjoy listening to
Even the most eclectic musical souls will be turned off by songs they dislike. This is why it’s crucial that you focus on finding music that you’ll look forward to playing over and over again.
That being said, remember that cultural understanding and language learning go hand-in-hand: You need to know what makes the locals tick to get what they’re saying and understand the culture.
Platforms like YouTube, Spotify and Pandora will help you source some cool sounds. Even an English-language search will likely get you some good hits.
Here are a few examples to get you started:
- YouTube playlist from Brazil
- YouTube playlist from Portugal
- Portuguese music compilation on Spotify
- Brazilian alternative playlist on Spotify
- Brazilian music list on Pandora
- Portuguese station on Pandora
You’re likely to find musical gems in places you’d least expect.
For example, Reddit has proven to be a great resource for tracking down Brazilian and Portuguese music. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, look through the r/somluso and r/brazilianmusic subreddits.
2. Set up a system and learning routine
So you’ve compiled your ideal playlist—great! Now it’s time to put it to good use.
Track your progress right from the outset.
Knowing how much you already understand and where your comprehension is lacking will not only help you identify how often you should practice, but it’ll also let you know how far you’ve come just by listening to music.
The best way to record your achievements is to write things down.
Grab a notebook, listen to each song a couple of times and jot down any familiar words that jump at you.
3. Track down those lyrics—and translate them!
Finding lyrics is relatively straightforward.
A Google search for “[song title] letras” is usually all you’ll need to hit the jackpot.
Alternatively, you could try your luck on a lyrics site like Letras (for Brazilian music and international songs).
On the first few listens, have the lyrics in front of you to get the gist of what you’re hearing.
Then, grab a notebook and jot down any unfamiliar Portuguese phrases you’ve encountered. Take notes on how these phrases are used (for example, write down the entire sentence or line), as this can help you make sense of your grammar essentials.
Print the lyrics out or write them in your notebook—for the latter, leave enough space to note down your translation. An English translation side-by-side will ensure you’re getting the gist of the words you’ll soon be singing along to.
Don’t worry too much about getting your translation perfect. Look up any terms that need clarification, and take the time to analyze their use in each song you’ve selected.
As long as you understand what each verse is trying to convey, you’re all set!
For an extra challenge, get someone to erase random words out of the lyrics so you can fill in the blanks while you’re listening. This is a good way to test your listening skills and hone your spelling.
4. Get creative in your song discovery
There are loads of ways to find new songs to add to your playlist.
If you’re listening to some cool Portuguese tunes on YouTube, try clicking on suggested videos to see what new leads are out there.
You can also try a virtual immersion program. FluentU, for example, has a dedicated section for music videos on its Portuguese program.
If you like to get your music through streaming services like Spotify or Pandora, look at what music suggestions come up as you craft your Portuguese learning playlists.
Or start a radio station with a Portuguese song you like and let the algorithm take it from there.
5. Put your skills to the test
Break a song into manageable sections as you’re trying to get in tune with the lyrics.
Try singing along to the first few verses a few times. Once you’re confident with that, move on to the chorus, the next set of verses and finally, the bridge.
Want to turn things up a notch?
Record yourself singing.
This will let you identify whether you’re pronouncing words properly or need more work to perfect your accent.
And there you have it—the complete rundown on how to use Portuguese songs to reach fluency.
Adding a couple of these tunes to your playlist will add words to your vocabulary and depth to your understanding of Portuguese and Brazilian culture.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)