If you’re learning Italian and want to understand Italian culture, it helps to know a bit about Italian folk songs.
In this post, you will discover the 20 most popular Italian songs ever.
Why learn Italian through songs
Italian traditional music is such a big part of this country’s culture that it’s not rare to make reference to popular songs in the middle of conversations.
Italians love singing.
So, today I’d like to invite you to an Italian Karaoke Party and introduce you to some popular Italian songs.
Let’s have fun and improve your Italian language skills with songs!
Italian songs to improve your language skills
Listening to traditional music can be a helpful tool to go from complete novice to accomplished conversationalist – and those who sing along as well find it even easier to remember new words and phrases.
So, for those learning Italian – with complicated conjugations and verb tenses that just don’t exist in English, you need all the help they can get – here’s a list of catchy Italian pop music to help perfect the lingo.
Italian songs are a great way to learn a language by yourself. You can improve your language skills in a fun way and, at the same time, get to grips with some elements of Italian culture.
Listening to songs exposes you to all sorts of grammatical structures such as verb tenses and conjugations, and these are much easier to memorize with a melody attached.
It’s also a convenient way to learn Italian in the car.
I selected some of the most popular and useful Italian songs that will help you to elevate your Italian language level, pronunciation, and vocabulary in context.
Some also happen to be my favorite Italian songs.
By the way, if you want to start with Italian children’s songs because you think they are easier to understand, feel free to do so!
Easy Italian songs for beginners
If you’re a beginner, you want to start with easy Italian songs like these.
Con te partirò – Andrea Bocelli
This is probably one of the biggest international hits in the history of Italian music.
Con te partirò (“With You I Will Leave”) talks about a journey.
The theme of the journey is presented in a romantic and poetic way. The artist dreams of rediscovering lost and new places thanks to the love of his partner in the journey of life.
If we take into account that Bocelli is blind, the meaning of the song lyrics acquire an extra value: he can see the light thanks to the sincerity of a true, intense feeling.
This is one of the greatest international successes of Italian classical music.
The emotion of this song has no time, but it is worth listening to it (and learning it) not only for purely artistic reasons but also for linguistic ones.
Bocelli marks the words slowly, this type of music has a slow rhythm, so it is easy to understand the vocabulary and learn it.
This is what makes this song perfect for a beginner’s language level.
Nel blu dipinto di blu – Domenico Modugno
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We’ll bet you already know at least one of the many verbs in the infinitive featured in this 1958 ageless song: 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).
Would you believe that this song was the Italian entry to the Eurovision Song Contest of 1958, and won third place?
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 dance around and gesture away.
“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 Italian 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.
Sapore di Sale – Gino Paoli
Prepositions, those pesky little words like di and 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.
Solo noi – Toto Cutugno
Solo noi (“Only us”) is the song with which Toto Cutugno won the 1980 San Remo 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 – Al Bano & Romina Power
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 vocabulary that are present in this text!
Italian songs for intermediate level
At an intermediate level, these Italian songs can capture a language learner’s heart
If you already understand some words and want to expand your vocabulary, learn Italian with songs at an intermediate level.
Ma il cielo è sempre più blu – Rino Gaetano
Let’s listen to this song by Rino Gaetano.
The title means the sky is always bluer. Once again, this is a controversial song.
At a first glance, the song lyrics seem to be optimistic and lighthearted.
At a deeper level, this song actually highlights the issues and problems of Italian society in the 70s, such as corruption or social injustice – and some of the issues mentioned are unfortunately still true today.
Rino Gaetano was a popular singer of the 70s in Italy, famous for his socially and politically astute lyrics.
Ma Il Cielo è Sempre Più Blu looks at contradictions within society while pointing out that everyone lives under the same sky.
Simple phrases like chi ruba, chi lotta, chi ha fatto la spia (who steals, who fights, who snitched) demonstrate straightforward verbs and sentence structure to beginners.
Azzurro – Adriano Celentano
One of the greatest Italian songwriters, actors, and directors, Adriano Celentano was the first who introduced rock’n’roll music in the country.
This song is very popular also abroad and it is very representative of the Italian summer melancholy.
Azzurro is perfect to improve your listening comprehension and learn many Italian phrases and verbal structures like the present and the past perfect.
Non me lo so spiegare – Tiziano Ferro
Tiziano Ferro, one of the most appreciated Italian singers abroad, is famous for his romantic songs, as they are all about love, feelings, and complicated relationships.
This song’s lyrics are particularly interesting if you want to deepen your knowledge of idiomatic expressions and Italian common phrases like “non me lo so spiegare” (I can’t explain it) or “l’aria che tirava” (the atmosphere).
La cura – Franco Battiato
As unbelievably simple average as this song can seem to foreigners, my Italians love it.
And, in any case, Franco Battiato is a musical hero in Italy, so if you want to speak the language you must at least be able to recognize the name when he comes up in conversations.
“È un mito soltanto italiano,” I have been told, meaning that he’s a hero only to Italians.
The lyrics deal with how devoted the singer is to the objects of his affections. He will relieve her from pain, her mood swings, her obsessions, and her delusions. How sweet.
As well as trying out many musical styles, Battiato often features philosophical and esoteric themes in his type of music.
Not for beginners, La Cura is a masterclass in poetic devices with plenty of complex vocabulary to study.
Voglio una pelle splendida – Afterhours
The lyrics for this rock ballad could be interpreted in a few ways, but it’s definitely not an ode to moisturizers.
The key line to me is “voglio un pensiero superficiale/che renda la pelle splendida” (I want a superficial thought/that makes the skin beautiful).
There’s something beautiful in the superficial, the skin-deep, isn’t there? Or at least, such thoughts are much less terrifying and painful than those of deep, true love.
After all, “l’amore [è] un rogo” (love [is] a bonfire/pyre), as the song tells us.
50 special – Lùnapop
This one is one of my all-time favorite songs. If you go to an Italian karaoke night you can be sure you’ll hear (and sing!) this song.
As you may know already, 50 Special is a kind of Vespa, the popular Italian scooter manufactured by the Italian brand Piaggio, which has become one of the symbols of Italian culture.
This super cheerful song sings about the good times you have when riding a Vespa and the singer, Cesare Cremonini also celebrates and sings about the beautiful, summery, landscape of his native Italian region, Emilia Romagna.
I bet you’d love to travel around the “colli bolognesi” with a Vespa too!
Ragazzo fortunato – Lorenzo Cherubini
Ragazzo fortunato means “lucky boy” (in Italian the adjective goes after the noun!). It tells the story of a young boy who feels lucky and grateful for the little things in life.
A song to sing when you feel happy about life, and we Italians love celebrating life, aka the “dolce vita” (sweet life).
Personally, I love this line of the song
Se devo dirla tutta, qui non è il paradiso ma all’inferno delle veritá, io mento col sorriso.
If I have to say it all, here’s not the heaven, but in this hell of truths, I lie with a smile.
This song is by Lorenzo Cherubini, aka Jovanotti, who is a famous Italian rapper.
Despite having a cheerful and upbeat rhythm, his songs often carry an important message to make people aware of social issues and injustice.
Certe notti – Ligabue
Certe notti means “some nights”. This song describes a seemingly lighthearted Italian night amongst friends. In a way, this song has different levels of interpretation.
On the one hand, it celebrates the lightheartedness of Italian people, on the other, it draws attention to the shallowness of some people’s lives. This song is so popular that has been parodied many times.
Ligabue is one of the most famous Italian pop-rock singers, second only to Vasco Rossi (more about Vasco below).
Ligabue has been on the Italian music scene since the 80s and if you love his voice and his songs, you can find quite a few of them on LyricsTraining.
Vado al massimo – Vasco Rossi
“Vado al massimo” means “I go full out” and is an evergreen Italian song by Vasco Rossi which you always find at Karaoke night.
This is the kind of song that you’d listen to give yourself a boost of energy and enthusiasm. The lyrics of this song are not particularly meaningful or deep but they play a lot with word sounds and assonance of words.
Vasco Rossi is a real rockstar in Italy and if you like pop-rock music, you should definitely listen to his songs. Some of them are also on LyricsTraining for you to get some practice too.
Perdono – Tiziano Ferro
Perdono means “forgiveness” or “sorry” and, as you may infer from the title, this song is all about forgiveness within a love story.
Most Italian popular songs are love songs because, you know, Italian people are fairly romantic and passionate.
By the way, from a linguistic point of view, if you can sing this song at its real speed, you’re an Italian pronunciation master.
Tiziano Ferro is the author and singer of this song and is a worldwide famous singer, who has sung not only in Italian but also in Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
When he first started his singing career, he was fairly innovative as he managed to bring a mix of different genres into Italian popular music, like Pop, Blues, Soul, Rhythm, and blues.
Superb Italian songs for advanced level
If you already understand Italian at an intermediate level or above, you can appreciate the subtleties of these Italian lyrics.
Learn Italian with songs through their wonderfully melodramatic tunes.
Bambina impertinente – Carmen Consoli
Used to give orders, commands, and instructions, imperatives are the most direct way to put a point across – and Bambina Impertinente is full of them.
Carmen Consoli also threw in a few uses of the problematic congiuntivo as well so there’s no excuse not to get practicing.
In the lyrics of this psychedelic song, you can spot some verbal construction to give orders, commands, and instructions, using the imperative.
Carmen Consoli has a Sicilian accent, so it’s better to listen to her songs if you have an advanced level of language comprehension.
Here she also uses the ever so problematic Italian subjunctive, so there’s no excuse for not practicing!
Il congiuntivo – Lorenzo Baglioni
This one goes out to anyone who’s ever struggled with the subtleties of the subjunctive.
The hit of this year’s San Remo Festival, this tongue-in-cheek tutorial is a reminder that’s it’s not only foreign students who can’t get the congiuntivo quite right.
Lorenzo Baglioni’s conjugation of the present, perfect, imperfect, and past perfect subjunctive is a grammar teacher’s delight.
This song is very useful to those who struggle with the Italian subjunctive. It was the hit of Sanremo Festival 2017, Italy’s most important music festival.
Baglioni recounts how difficult it is also for an Italian native speaker to use the subjunctive correctly so that you can always remember that Italians and foreigners share the same struggle!
Salirò – Daniele Silvestri
Daniele Silvestri’s songs are well known for their rhythm and groovy melodies. He is politically committed and there is often a message within his songs.
His language is quite metaphoric, so it would be hard for an intermediate or a beginner level to fully grasp the meaning of the lyrics.
In this song, we find many verbal structures: the simple future “salirò” (I will go up) and the use of the conditional tense “preferirei” (I would prefer).
La vita com’è – Max Gazzè
Max Gazzè is a pop-rock Italian musician. His song will be stuck in your head for a long time!
Here you will listen to lots of hypotheticals such as “se fossi” (if I were), some verbal structure, new vocabulary and common Italian expressions like “prendere la vita com’è” (take it easy) or “ammazzare il tempo” ( killing time).
La canzone del sole – Lucio Battisti
As one of Italy’s most famous and most influential musicians, Lucio Battisti is often selected by Italian teachers as a starting point for discovering the country’s rich musical heritage.
La Canzone del Sole is clear, comprehensible, and tells the story of two lovers meeting again after years apart.
Sing your way to Italian fluency!
Which is your favorite from this Italian music selection?
They by no means reflect the vast and varied landscape of Italian music, but I hope they’ll give you a sneak peek into the way Italians think.
In popular Italian music, you’ll often find the lighthearted Italian way of looking at life but you may also find more meaningful songs with lyrics that talk about social issues or rave about the beauty of our Italian land.
And, yes, we have some love stories here and there too!
Over to you! Sing your way to Italian fluency.
Do you know an Italian song that you love and you’d like to share with us? What do you like about it and how did it help you learn the lovely Italian language?
Share it in the comments below as I’d love to sing it along!
By the way, if you sing Italian opera more or less professionally, there’s a website to learn how to pronounce Italian lyrics: “Italian for singers”.
Keep singing and enjoy your learning.
To expand your repertoire of expressions, check out my collection of Italian idioms, Italian sayings, Italian proverbs, Italian quotes, Italian hand gestures or even Italian swear words, just for a laugh.
Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!
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