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Italian Songs

One fun way to learn Italian is to learn songs written in Italian; not only is it an effective way of learning, but it also gives you a window on Italian culture.

Opera and Classical Music

For many years, Italian was the standard language of opera, so even Germans wrote operas in Italian.  The language is sometimes stilted and poetic (for example, they tend to use Voi as a singular "you" and leave off the final "e" in verbs so that cantare ("to sing") becomes cantar) but it is nevertheless quite similar to the modern language.  Here are some classic, popular songs from opera and other classical music:

Traditional and Folk

The following are older, "classic" Italian songs.  See this Italian folk music page for more lyrics.

Rock and Pop Music

The following are more popular songs you might hear on the radio, especially on Kiss Kiss Italia; you can check out which songs are popular in Italy at the Italy Top 20 listing, MTV's Hitlist Italia, or Euro200's Italy Top 50 list.  Many lyrics are translated on allthelyrics.com

  • Various Artists - Domani 21 Aprile - a benefit song with an all-star lineup produced to aid victims of the 2009 earthquake in Abruzzo.  It's like the Italian version of "We are the World".  See Deirdre Straughan's great website for lyrics and translation (alternate version here).
  • Giorgia - Di sole e d'azzurro - "the sun and blue sky," a beautiful song with a beautiful performance at the 2001 Sanremo festival
  • Gianna Nannini - Salvami - a cry for help ("Save me"), this song ranges from low and gravel-y to high and soaring.
  • Giusy Ferreri - was the first winner of the Italian version of X Factor (like American Idol), with a low Amy Winehouse-like voice; she has had several hits:
  • Noemi - famous for calling Berslusconi her "daddy," leading to speculation that she was his illegitimate daughter
  • Luciano Ligabue - a rock guitarist and singer who has some cool tunes
  • Zero Assoluto - this duet ("absolute zero"--perhaps they studied physics?) has had a few hits:
  • Jovanotti - Lorenzo Cherubini is a rapper/singer with various world influences
  • Alessandra Amoroso - Senza Nuvole, a little whiny but catchy
  • Alex Britti - Buona Fortuna - a song with a Jazzy beat  Lyrics and translation.
  • Eros Ramazzotti - Parla Con Me - many of Ramazzotti's songs sound whiny but this one is catchy
  • Raf - Per Tutto Il Tempo - fun song with a driving beat, talks about love "for all time"
  • Gemelli Diversi - Vivi per un miracolo - the biggest hit from these Italian rappers, with the refrain "c'e l'hai un attimo per me?" ("Do you have a moment for me?")
  • Fabrizio Moro - Pensa - an inspiring anti-Mafia song
  • Marco Carta - won the 2009 San Remo Festival with the song "La Forza Mia"; he followed that up with the catchy "Dentro ad ogni brivido"
  • Marco Mengoni - Dove si vola  - another X Factor winner (sounds like a girl!)
  • Fiorella Mannoia - Ho Imparato a Sognare - a 2009 cover of a 1997 song by Negrita; an inspirational song, it talks about how "I learned to dream" early in life.  (Partial) lyrics and translation.
  • Sal da Vinci - Il Mercante di Stelle is a love song with hokey lyrics about a guy giving "the most beautiful stars in the heavens to she who opens her heart to me"...but it will stick in your head forever!
  • Ron e Tosca - Vorrei Incontrarti Fra Cent’Anni - a song that reminds me of Extreme's "More than Words"
  • Toto Cutugno - L'italiano - a song that won the Sanremo music festival in the 80s, which references various Italian stereotypes

Neapolitan Songs

Many of the songs Americans consider to be "Italian" are actually Neapolitan songs, in the distinct Neapolitan language.  The following are some of the most famous Neapolitan songs (Canzoni Napoletane):
See Italamerica.org to learn about more Neapolitan songs.

Fake Neapolitan/Italian

There are a handful of songs that Americans think of being "Italian" but were actually written by Americans; still, they are still fun (and popular with Italians and Italian Americans alike):
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Luke Swartz,
Nov 18, 2010, 12:17 PM
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