If you’re learning Italian and want to understand Italian culture, it helps to know a bit about Italian popular music.
Let’s discover some Italian songs for beginners.
Music is great for acquiring more than just melodramatic bluster (although let’s face it, that’s a large reason that many of us want to learn Italian).
Italian songs can expose you to all sorts of grammatical structures—phrasal verbs and conjugations, for example—and these are much easier to commit to memory with a melody attached.
The essential conflict for most learners in approaching Italian popular music is that the more interesting stuff tends to be too complex lyrically to follow when you’re starting out.
On the other hand, easier music tends to be what Italians call canzonacce (trashy pop songs—which are nevertheless culturally important).
The playlist below tries to give you a bit of both worlds.
I put the following playlist together with musically savvy Italian friends.
It covers some of the great performers who are considered essential to the Italian culture and a few really cool up-and-comers.
Easy Italian songs for beginners
We’ll bet you already know at least one of the many verbs in the infinitive featured in this 1958 classic: volare.
The famous song has some catchy examples of them for beginners to memorize (as well as some juicy uses of the imperfect tense for those a bit further ahead).
The song is a party of verbs, and you can find them in almost every line. So if you decide to give this song a go and actually sing it, don’t forget to move around and gesture away.
Incidentally, Modugno’s interpretation, with his arms flailing and open wide, changed the way Italian singers performed. Gone were the days when they just stood still.
“Nel blu dipinto di blu” literally means in “The Blue Painted Blue”. This is a very classic Italian song, which is super popular abroad too.
You may have heard it in its English version (with the title of “Volare” or “Fly” too.).
The famous singer, Domenico Modugno, born in the Italian region of Puglia, was inspired to write this song to celebrate his land, its sea, and blue sky.
Personally, I love this song because its lyrics conjure up a feeling of freedom and light-heartedness.
Learn how to use the infinitives with this renowned Italian song! You will spot some infinitive verbs like “volare” (to fly/flying) or “cantare” (to sing/singing) as well as the imperfect tense.
This famous song also gives some catchy examples of Italian vocabulary and it is perfect for beginners but also for those a bit further ahead.
Prepositions, those pesky little words like di, del, and dei that have to agree with the word that follows them, are in abundance in this 1960s summer hit.
Listen carefully and you’ll hear just about every variation – hopefully, the right one will be “sulle labbra” (on your lips) in no time.
If you don’t know him yet, you have to listen to our beloved Italian singer Lorenzo Jovanotti (Lorenzo Cherubini).
First, we suggest listening to this fun ballad in which he tells us about his complicated relationship with his girlfriend using a lot of past tenses.
Here you can hear the difference between the perfect (“ha fatto”) and the imperfect (“faceva”).
Once you get to know this song, discover all the other popular Jovanotti songs, you will love his sound and his energy!
Get an introduction to one of Italy’s most famous living singers and a tutorial in describing the past all in one go.
Spot the difference between the perfect (“ha fatto“) and the imperfect (“faceva“) as Jovanotti sings the story of a relationship that is far from – ahem – perfect.
Ready for the future? Mina the diva will help you learn it (at least the second-person singular) as she warns her lover that he’ll miss her when she’s gone. Give the chorus a few listens and we promise you “ricorderai” (will remember) and “capirai” (will understand) just fine.
Mina is definitely the most talented Italian singer of all time.
With this song, you get to know the diva and her style while listening to a lot of future simple verbs in the second-person singular like “ricorderai” (will remember) and “capirai” (will understand).
In this romantic song, she warns her lover that he’ll miss her when she’s gone.
Almeno tu nell’universo (“At least you in the Universe”) is undoubtedly one of Mia Martini’s most beloved meaningful songs.
The song is about people’s inconsistencies. In a world full of “strange people”, there is no more space for feelings and love.
But a woman is madly in love with a man who is unique in this strange world that is constantly changing.
This song is extremely useful to learn the use of “si” pronoun with reflexive and reciprocal verbs. It is a perfect Italian song for beginners.
You can even enrich your vocabulary, getting to know more adjectives and adverbs.
L’emozione non ha voce (“Emotion has no voice”) is a beautiful hit by Adriano Celentano.
It is contained in the album io non so parlar d’amore (“I can’t talk about Love”) whose title is nothing but the opening sentence of the song.
The text is a confession of a man in love. He declares his difficulty in opening his heart and giving voice to his feelings.
However, he hopes that their love will last for life and this can only happen if both the feelings are based on love, sincerity, and trust.
A great text, then, described by beautiful sounds and by the unique and suggestive voice of Adriano Celentano.
The rhythm and music are very slow, as well as the pronunciation of the singer, so this is an easy Italian song for beginners.
Solo noi (“Only us”) is the song with which Toto Cutugno won the 1980 Sanremo Music Festival. The single remained in the Italian top ten for several months.
The song is about a pair of lovers, their love, and the end of their passion.
Felicità (“Happiness”) is an album published in 1982 by Albano Carrisi and Romina Power. It is known all over the world.
The Italian song explains the condition of joy, satisfaction, serenity, and excitement that occur in people in a wave of optimism.
It tries to express what this condition is, making comparisons and describing what do you feel in that particular moment.
It’s practically impossible not to be happy after listening to this song, not just for its fun and catchy rhythm, but also for the condition of Happiness that you will experience after having learned the numerous new words of the Italian everyday vocabulary that are present in this text!
Baciami ancora (“Kiss Me Again”) is an Italian song by Jovanotti, made as to the main theme of the “Baciami ancora” Italian movie by Gabriele Muccino, which won a David of Donatello as Best Original Song.
The song is about the crazy and very deep love that a man feels towards a woman he fell in love with a simple kiss…
He is a man who would desperately want to try again the splendid sensations that the kiss gave him.
After listening to this song, you will be able to ask your Italian partner for more kisses and you will definitely learn how to express your love with a very poetic vocabulary.
Solo ieri (“Only yesterday”) by Eros Ramazzotti is an Italian song about loss.
A man is destroyed by the end of a great love that he thought it would last forever, but it all ended.
He feels like there is nothing left to do and no purpose, that he can no longer believe in anything.
But then he makes a pass and decides that he wants to start again and build a new life.
Here’s a Lucio Dalla song… The choice was really hard, because perhaps every Italian has a favorite Lucio Dalla song, although choosing one is a very difficult thing.
But surely everyone will agree that L’anno che verrà (“The incoming year”) has become over time one of the most characteristic songs of the Bolognese singer, and certainly one of the most famous and beloved.
“Caro amico ti scrivo” (“Dear friend I write to you”) is probably one of the most famous incipits in the history of Italian music and immediately gives the idea of what we’re going to listen to: a letter to a friend.
Tutta mia la città – Giuliano Palma & The Bluebeaters
This is a cover of the original song of Equipe 84, a famous Italian group of the ’80s and the ’90s. We suggest Giuliano Palma’s version because it sounds a bit more contemporary, but it’s worth listening to the original version also!
Vieni via con me – Paolo Conte
Written and performed by one of the greatest Italian songwriters, this song is considered almost like an Italian hymn.
Paolo Conte is very easy to understand as he speaks slowly, with a very clear Italian accent. This song is perfect to listen to indicative verbs and for the use of prepositions.
Buonanotte fiorellino – Francesco De Gregori
Buonanotte fiorellino means “Good Night Little Flower”.
This catchy lullaby could be sung to a baby, a lover, or just, as the name suggests, a flower.
This serenade is great to learn from because you listen to a lot of very simple vocabulary, though sometimes in the diminutive form like “fiorellino” (little flower) or “monetina” (little coin).
Improving the Italian diminutive will help you in Italian conversation when you want to be sweet and kind, or just want to talk about something small.
The Italian diminutive comes into play frequently when you want to be cutesy, or of course just to talk about something being small or less consequential.
This song is about a short-lived love affair of an English girl and an Italian man, with the Trevi Fountain and Italian sunsets for a backdrop. It’s a change of pace from the previous three songs we just talked about.
This one is nostalgic in tone. Nevertheless, it can lift the spirits of Italian learners everywhere with the wealth of linguistic lessons it has to offer.
You can mine the song for language points after wiping your tears away.
It’s replete with verbal structures, Italian phrases, connectives, and conjunctions that you can borrow to add nuance and richness to your Italian conversations.
Examples include ma (but), mentre (while), and sempre (always).
A Christmas tune!
This one was written by Saint Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori and is one of the most popular Christmas songs in Italy.
If in the U.S. you hear “Jingle Bells” as you join the Christmas shopping rush in department stores, “Tu scendi dalle stelle” is the equivalent in Italy.
This song is about the Baby Jesus leaving glory and descending into a simple and poor existence (one without the warmth of a fire on a cold winter’s night).
It’s often sung by a children’s choir. You can be sure to hear it during a Christmas Eve mass at the Vatican.
This song is a good pick for the language learner because, as a lullaby for the Baby Jesus, it’s not too brisk for the absolute beginner.
The verses are simply composed and there’s enough repetition in the lines so that you can pick up new Italian vocabulary in no time.
Life sounds beautiful in Italian songs
Darling! Delighted to learn together until the dawn is livid with mist!
Wait, wait! Come back!
I guess it sounded better in Italian.
That line, “s’appoggi pure volentieri fino all’alba livida di bruma,” is from a song by Vinicio Capossela, and I’m holding onto it for an evening in Rome when I’m walking hand in hand with some future Italian sweetheart after a long, heavy dinner.
You can use it too, and learn lots more lovely—and overwrought—phrases by listening to Italian music. This post is here to launch you into that bewildering world.
Not only can you learn romantic phrases, but you can get tons of practice with the Italian language just by tuning in.
So if you want to really learn Italian and learn it fast, consider Italian songs to be one of the most efficient and effective tools in the shed.
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