How Brazilian Songs Can Help You Pick Up Portuguese

Two women listening to music. One woman is wearing headphones.

Listening to music from other countries is a fun and effective way to learn a language, improve your language skills, and gain a better understanding of a culture. Learning song lyrics can not only help build your vocabulary, but also perfect your pronunciation. And research shows music helps with memorization, which is key to attaining language proficiency.

Brazil has many different music styles to choose from—MPB (Música Popular Brasileira), pagoda, carioca funk, sertanejo, and bossa nova just to name a few.

Here are some songs to help get you into the groove and pick up Portuguese at the same time!

  1. “Surpresa de Amor”—Turma do Pagode

Pagode is a genre of Brazilian music that originated in the early ‘80s. This slower type of samba introduced new instruments to the genre and incorporated more popular slang into the lyrics. This song’s repetitive lyrics are easy to remember.

  1. “Mas que Nada”—Jorge Ben Jor

Popular musician Jorge Ben Jor sings relatively slowly and clearly, making this is a great song for beginners. It features expressions such as “legal,” which means  “cool,” and gives all language learners a good introduction to Brazilian culture. The song was featured in a 1998 Nike commercial featuring the Brazilian national football team playing soccer in an airport.

  1. “Ja Sei Namorar”—Tribalistas

“Ja Sei Namorar” is another good song for beginners and for learning present tense. Combining the musical talents of Arnaldo Antunes, Marisa Monte and Carlinhos Brown, the song was used in the FIFA Football 2004 video game.

  1. “O Sol”— Vitor Kley

This 2017 hit pop song was among the most played on radio and music streaming platforms and remains popular today. Its pacing and simple lyrics are perfect for Portuguese learners.

  1.  “Quarta Cadeira”— Matheus & Kauan

Although it originates from the Brazilian countryside, sertanejo is one Brazil’s most popular music genres. Many sertanejo songs are performed by sibling duos. “Quarta Cadeira” is no exception, sung by brothers Matheus Aleixo Pinto and Kauan Osvaldo Pinto Rosa, known as Matheus & Kauan.

  1. “Construção”— Chico Buarque

Chico Buarque is one of Brazil’s most well-known musicians. His songs feature social, economic and cultural commentary on Brazil, especially Rio de Janeiro. The title track of the album of the same name, “Construção” was named the greatest Brazilian song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2009.

Buarque uses a lot of conditional tenses in the song, so it’s great for intermediate or advanced learners of Portuguese.