Listening to Italian songs is a great way to improve your language skills, learn new words and phrases, and get to grips with some elements of Italian culture.Here is a list of songs to help you improve your pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. The songs are divided into levels--beginner, intermediate, or advanced. You can also listen to the entire song on Spotify at the bottom of this article.
Ironic and sarcastic, Annina by Italian pop-rock singer-songwriter and musician Max Gazzè is one of my all-time favorite songs. It came out in 2004 and has a brilliant intro riff, in my opinion.
This amazing song gives some catchy examples of Italian vocabulary, sometimes in the diminutive form, like “cappottino” (little coat) and “fiorellino” (little flower). Annina is the diminutive of Anna (Anne), a very common female name in Italy.
The video is starring not only Max Gazzè, but also Sicilian-American actor Vincent Schiavelli, who played the subway ghost in 1990 movie Ghost with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. Remember?Check out the lyrics here.
Tuscan singer-songwriter Gianna Nannini is one of the most talented Italian singers of all time. In my modest opinion, Aria (air) is her best song.
This awesome song gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it, especially when Gianna’s powerful, coarse, sensual, wide-ranging voice reaches high pitches to then fall slowly down to the bottom of the scale, like a feather floating to the ground.With this amazing song, you can improve your listening comprehension of present, futuro semplice and conditional tenses. Click here to check out the marvelous lyrics of this song along with its English translation.
Samuele Bersani’s Italian is very easy to understand, as he sings slowly in this song. In the lyrics of Giudizi universali (Last judgments) you will spot some infinitive verbs, like “capire” (to understand), “sognare” (to dream) and “calpestare” (to step on), as well as the imperative, present, simple future and conditional tenses.Check out the lyrics and English translation.
Giorgia has one of the best voices in the world. She is truly an Italian national treasure. As you can see in the video, when she sang her song Di sole e d’azzurro (literally: of sun and blue) at the Sanremo Festival 2001, Italy’s most important music festival, she got a standing ovation.
This stunningly beautiful song gives some interesting examples of Italian vocabulary, and is perfect to listen to modal verbs, infinitives, the present and simple future.
One of the most original, erudite and straightforward Italian songwriters, Paolo Conte is easy to understand, as he sings with a clear Italian accent. His style is timeless. Even if Via con me (away with me) was written in the early eighties, it is still catchy to this day.Read the lyrics of this wonderful song along with its English translation.
A poet, storyteller, troubadour and chansonnier, Fabrizio De André was one of Italy’s most popular singer-songwriters of the Sixties and Seventies. Known for giving voice to the outcast, De André is, in my opinion, the greatest Italian songwriter of all time.
A masterpiece of Italian songwriting music, La canzone dell’amore perduto (the song of lost love) is great to learn from, because you listen to a lot of Italian vocabulary, prepositions, adverbs and indicative verbs.
Here the English translation.
Let’s move on to something lighter and more cheerful. 50 Special is an iconic motorcycle manufactured by the Italian brand Piaggio. In this joyful song the singer Cesare Cremonini sings about how fun it is to drive through the undulating hills around Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna.
Lacio Drom (Buon Viaggio) by Italian rock band Litfiba is perfect to learn new vocabulary. In the lyrics of this exuberant song you will spot many verbs in the futuro semplice (simple future tense), like “userò” (I’ll use), “cavalcherò” (I’ll ride) and “prenderò” (I’ll take).
As you might have guessed, the expression “lacio drom” is not Italian. It is actually Romani, the language spoken by Romani gypsy communities. It means “bon voyage” in English.
La cura (literally “the care”) is widely considered one of the best Italian love songs of all time. Far from being sappy, trite and sugary, the lyrics express what a perfect man would say to a woman with deep, poetic and extremely touching words.
With this masterpiece you get to know the legendary singer-songwriter Franco Battiato, a musical hero in Italy, while listening to a lot of future simple verbs in the first-person singular, like “ti proteggerò” (I’ll protect you), “ti solleverò” (I’ll relieve you) and “supererò” (I’ll overcome).
Here is the English translation.
Talented musician Adelmo Fornaciari, a.k.a. Zucchero (sugar), is one of the most appreciated Italian singers abroad, so you probably have already heard of him. Zucchero has sold millions and millions of records throughout his long career, and has collaborated with personalities of the likes of Ray Charles, Luciano Pavarotti, Bono Vox and Eric Clapton.
In the lyrics of his song Il volo (the flight) you can hear many verbs in the passato prossimo, like “ho camminato” (I walked), “ho visto” (I saw) and “siamo caduti” (we fell), and in the problematic Italian subjunctive.
Here the lyrics.
With L’ultima luna (the last moon) you get to know Lucio Dalla, another legend of the Italian music scene.
In this song you will find some interesting examples of the use of the Italian:
Here are the lyrics of this song.
I personally love this psychedelic song by Carmen Consoli, one of the most beautiful, talented and classy singers in Italy. This song is great to learn from because you listen to a lot of verbs in the imperative (imperativo), like “trattami” (treat me), “lasciami” (leave me) and “sfiorami” (touch me).
Check out the lyrics here.
Want to inject some positive energy into your day? Check out L’ombelico del mondo (literally: the belly button of the world) by Lorenzo Cherubini, a.k.a. Jovanotti. Be warned that this lively song will be stuck in your head for a long, long time. L’ombelico del mondo is a blast of energy, excitement and fun.
Jovanotti sings pretty fast in this song. The words are quite easy to understand, but to fully grasp the general meaning you should have at least an intermediate level of Italian listening comprehension.
Bluvertigo are an alternative rock band from Monza, in Lombardy. Their song La crisi (the crisis) is perfect to listen to:
Check out the lyrics here
Tiromancino is a popular Italian pop group. In their song Per me è importante (It’s important to me) we find many verbal structures, such as:
Negrita is a rock band from Arezzo, Tuscany. Rotolando verso sud (rolling south) is their best song, in my opinion. You’ll like the summer feel of it!
The singer Pau has a clear voice, and he is pretty easy to understand. From Negrita’s song Rotolando verso sud you can learn lots of great adjectives, such as “immobile” (motionless), “cielo avorio” (ivory sky) and “nubi porpora” (purple clouds).Here the lyrics.
Vasco Rossi is one of the most appreciated and best-selling singers in Italy. Funny and humorously ironic, Va beh, se proprio te lo devo dire (Okay, if I really have to tell you) is perfect to familiarize with the ever so problematic Italian subjunctive.
Believe it or not, Tuscan singer Lorenzo Baglioni has dedicated a song to the Italian subjunctive. This is every Grammar nerd’s dream come true! I fell in love with Il congiuntivo when I first heard it during Sanremo Festival a couple of years ago.Through the lyrics of this bizarre song, you will learn the Italian present subjunctive (congiuntivo presente), past subjunctive (congiuntivo passato), imperfect subjunctive (congiuntivo imperfetto) and pluperfect subjunctive (congiuntivo trapassato). There’s no excuse not to get practicing!
Italian rapper Frankie Hi-NRG MC is regarded as one of the pioneers of the hip hop movement in Italy. His song Quelli che benpensano (literally: those who think well) is perfect to improve your listening comprehension.Here you will find a whole lot of vocabulary. Frankie Hi-NRG MC raps fast, but with a very clear Italian accent. Read the lyrics here.
99 Posse is a reggae/hip hop group from Naples, in southern Italy. Listen to their song Corto circuito (short circuit). When beautiful Meg sings, it should be quite easy for you to understand every single word.Things might get more tricky when it’s Luca "O Zulù"’s turn, as he raps not only in Italian but also in the local Naples dialect. Click here to read the lyrics of this song.
One of the most popular Italian hip hop groups, Articolo 31 was a band from Milan, Lombardy. The lyrics of their famous song Domani (tomorrow) describe what a finished love story feels like.Here you will find A LOT of interesting vocabulary and many verbal structures. Click here to read the lyrics.
Caparezza, meaning “curly head” in Apulian dialect, is perhaps the most politically and culturally committed artist of the contemporary music scene in Italy.Listen to his song La mia parte intollerante (my intolerant part) carefully. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t understand every single word Caparezza sings. Once you get used to the fast rhythm of this song, you will be able to learn new Italian vocabulary and a whole lot of slang and idiomatic expressions.
The song Che cos’è l’amore? (what is love?) is not so easy to understand even for native Italian speakers. Listen to it if you have an advanced level of language comprehension.
You will see the title spelled in a number of ways on the Internet, mostly with a double “s”, as in the video title, because Vinicio Capossela pronounces it with a hissed s. This happens in some parts of South Italy.
The lyrics of this peculiar song ask what love is.
You can also listen to the playlist here for free using Spotify.
Is there an Italian song that you’d like to share with us? Tell us about it in the comments section.
Jessica is a native Italian speaker, a passionate linguist and a proud Grammar nerd. She has a lifelong passion for English and studied Linguistic and Cultural Mediation at the University of Milan. She currently works as a freelance translator and copywriter.