This week was slower in terms of my foreign language study challenge. Although I am making progress, a bad cold prevented me from doing as much as I’d hoped. So here’s a quick list of my favourite music in Portuguese. It helps me get through slower days like these, and still feel that I’m doing a little bit to get that foreign language practice. I hope you enjoy the selection, and that you’re able to add to my playlist!
1. How to make the most of foreign language music?
First of all: don’t be a music pirate. There are dozens of ways to get your hands on legally available music. I wrote about podcasts and Spotify already – Jamendo is another great option.
Second thing: don’t try to remember all the lyrics! Music is often full of poetry, and uncommon turns of phrase. But the phrases which will stick in your head may as well be the everyday, useful expressions. Make sure you enjoy them all, but take note of the more useful language.
2. My Portuguese inspirations: fado and poetry
It’s hard to escape a genre of music that is so universally enjoyed. Big music stars in Portugal are either fado players/singers, or at least massively inspired by them. And that’s not all: fado is something you can expect chefs and waiters to sing in little cafes – it’s a thing that brings young and old folks together in church squares.
I definitely recommend Mariza for clear, forceful lyrics (important when you’re trying for listening comprehension). For an intelligent male voice, try Camane.
Too much fado can make you feel a bit wistful, though. Thank goodness there’s help coming from across the pond.
3. The chilled-out legends: bossa nova and Tom Jobim
There is a lot about Brazil that I can enjoy even without understanding a word of Portuguese. Bossa nova has always been one of these things. And now that I’m learning the language, I’ve got so much more to enjoy!
The lyrics are not complicated, and most of the time there’s not really a lot to sing – which makes the songs very “pop-like” in nature and instantly memorable. Another good thing.
Hard to escape Tom Jobim here, really. If you know nothing about Brazilian songs, start there and work your way out.
4. New discoveries: hip-hop in Portuguese
Yes, you heard me right. It exists, and for language learners, this is a treasure trove. Ambitious and modern lyrics, real-life references, and lots of clearly but quickly pronounced lines. Yes good.
Hip hop is great for new words, and it turns out that hip hop artists are a lot more creative than they’re given credit for. So this may be a great way to remember some new useful words and find out more.
I’m completely new to this, but can recommend Valete any time. This is a more political genre, and Valete’s politics may not be yours – but hey, that’s the joy of engaged music and you don’t always have to agree with everything!
5. Your suggestions?
I’d love to have a really massively enjoyable Portuguese-speaking music playlist. There is definitely something I don’t know yet. Send me your thoughts any way you can.
You are here to read and learn. I'm here to write!
My three e-books are available for you to download.
I update them every year with bonus chapters, so you always get the latest info.
They all cost less than a fancy coffee. If you don't like them, you get your money back within 45 days.
And if you do like them, you will help me help my favourite charity, and motivate me to write more!
Get the bundle here.