23 Classic Brazilian Songs You Need To Listen To Right Now

Gotta love that Bossa Nova, though!

1. “Garota De Ipanema” by Vinicius de Moraes and Tom Jobim (1962)

Globo / Getty Images

Genre: Bossa Nova
Backstory: The two musicians were sitting at a bar near Ipanema Beach in Rio, when they saw the most beautiful woman walk by and wrote this song down on a bar napkin. The rest my friends is blissful history.
Why It’s Great: This song IS Brazil. Also, It became the most second re-recorded song in all of history after “Yesterday” by The Beatles. Booyah!

(This live version also includes musicians Bethania and Toquinho)

2. “Mas Que Nada” by Jorge Ben (1963)

Charlie Gillett Collection / Redferns

Genre: Bossa Nova
Backstory: The phrase “mas que nada” is slang for “no way” or “whatever.” Sergio Mendes would go on to re-record the song continuing its wave of popularity in the following years.
Why It’s Great: It’s a world favorite which cannot be resisted. The Black Eyed Peas even recorded a version in 2011 for the movie Rio.

3. “Baby” by Os Mutantes (1968)

Flickr: Amy Hope Dermont/ Creative Commons / Via Flickr: napkinshoe

Genre: Psychedelic Rock
Backstory: Os Mutantes were a well known band in the ’60s associated with the Tropicália movement. It was a period that embraced a more avant-garde type of music, blending both traditional and foreign influences.
Why It’s Great: This song is the very definition of the word “funk.” Can you hear that piano organ?

4. “Meu Nome É Gal” by Gal Costa (1969)

Courtesy Everett Collection

Genre: Bossa Nova
Backstory: Famous musicians Roberto Carlos and Erasmo Carlos wrote this song especially for Costa. She has one of the most celebrated voices in all of Brazilian music.
Why It’s Great: She hits notes you didn’t even know existed.

5. “O Bêbado E A Equilibrista” by Elis Regina (1969)


Genre: Bossa Nova
Backstory: The song was originally composed by lyricist Aldir Blanc with singer/songwriter João Bosco. It really only took off however, after Regina put her flair on it.
Why It’s Great: It’s smooth… so, SO smooth.

6. “Detalhes” by Roberto Carlos (1971)

Flickr: Andréa Farias Farias/ Creative Commons / Via Flickr: 14487647@N05

Genre: MPB (Popular Brazilian Music)
Backstory: Carlos is known as “O Rei,” which means “The King” in Portuguese. Before enjoying a solo career that would make him famous in all of Latin America, he was a part of a famous teenage band called Jovem Guarda.
Why It’s Great: No one writes a gut wrenching love song like this man does; NO ONE.

7. “Aguas De Março” by Elis Regina and Tom Jobim (1972)


Genre: Bossa Nova
Backstory: Jobim composed this song, and then asked Regina to record on a later version that indisputably became the most popular of all the re-recordings.
Why It’s Great: The duo’s playful chemistry throughout the song is goose bump inducing.

8. “Paisagem Da Janela” by Lô Borges and Milton Nascimento (1972)

TV Brasil

Roger Martínez Planell


Genre: MPB
Backstory: The two musicians co-wrote and composed the album Clube Da Esquina that featured various Brazilian artists and became an iconic record. “Paisagem Da Janela” was one of the most popular singles, which would go on to be re-recorded many times over.
Why It’s Great: That electric guitar, though.

9. “Gostava Tanto De Você” by Tim Maia (1973)

SONIA D’ALMEIDA/ Creative Commons / Via

Genre: MPB
Backstory: Tim Maia contributed many famous singles to Brazilian music throughout the ’70s. His deep iconic voice added a funk, soul, and disco feel that was missing from everything else at the time.
Why It’s Great: Maia’s voice is unmatchable; it hits you in your gut.

10. “O Leãzinho” by Caetono Veloso (1977)

Ivo Gonzalez / Globo / Getty Images

Genre: MPB
Backstory: The song’s title means “little lion.” Veloso wrote and recorded the track himself, which appeared on his eighth album titled Bicho.
Why It’s Great: It’s an acoustic masterpiece for the ears.

11. “Vamos Fugir” by Gilberto Gil (1984)

Starlight/ Creative Commons / Via

Genre: Reggae
Backstory: Gil began his career as a Bossa Nova artist and quickly began experimenting with Reggae by the time he released “Vamos Fugir.” This song is his most famous single.
Why It’s Great: Island vibes aside, the horns throughout KILL.

12. “Você” by Os Paralamas Do Sucesso (1986)

Olimer/ Creative Commons / Via

Genre: Reggae
Backstory: “Você” was originally recorded by Tim Maia. This famous ’70s rock band resurfaced the classic and made it explode in a way that was unreal.
Why It’s Great: It turned Maia’s hard-hitting romantic ballad into a lighthearted groove track.

13. “Bem Que Se Quis” by Marisa Monte (1989)

Simon Ritter / Redferns

Genre: MPB
Backstory: “Bem Que Se Quis” was originally an Italian song preformed by Pino Daniele and titled “E Po’ Che Fa’.” Nelson Motta, a Brazilian songwriter, later translated the lyrics into Portuguese for Monte.
Why It’s Great: Monte is a classically trained opera singer. Girl. Can. SING.

14. “Lambada” by Kaoma (1989)

Michel Linssen / Redferns

Genre: Lambada
Backstory: The French band re-recorded this hit song with Brazilian singer Loalwa Braz. It blew up and became extremely popular in France, Brazil, and most of Latin America.
Why It’s Great: There’s a particular dance that goes along with this song, which involves holding your partner VERY close.

15. “Magalenha” by Sergio Mendes (1993)

Jan Persson / Redferns

Genre: Samba
Backstory: Sergio Mendes composed this song and asked famous musician Carlinhos Brown to lay the vocals on the track. He won a Grammy for the hit single in 1993.
Why It’s Great: This is probably what people think of when they think “Brazilian music.” It makes you want to get up and daaaaance.

16. “Malandragem” by Cassia Eller (1994)


Genre: Alternative Rock
Backstory: Eller was kind of a rebel. She had a deep husky voice that was new and fresh to the music scene at the time, and she always wore a mohawk.
Why It’s Great: Her un-smooth vocals add a certain rawness to the track.

17. “Onde Você Mora?” by Cidade Negra (1994)

Flickr: Alex de Carvalho / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: adc

Genre: Reggae
Backstory: The band formed in Rio De Janeiro, and implemented a lot of soul and rock influences into their music. They mostly sang of love, and even tackled some social issues of the time.
Why It’s Great: Catchy Beat + Killer Love Lyrics = Unstoppable Combination

(This live version also includes another Cidade Negra song titled “Firmamento” as well as “Onde Você Mora?”)

18. “Nobre Vagabundo” by Daniela Mercury (1996)

Flickr: Ministério da Cultura CulturaGovBr/ Creative Commons / Via Flickr: 47979536@N05

Genre: Axé
Backstory: Mercury is one of the most well-known singers from the state of Bahia. “Nobre Vagabundo” comes off her album Feijão Com Arroz, her second best selling album of all time.
Why It’s Great: Her melody in the beginning sans instruments is just everything.

19. “Garota Nacional” by Skank (1996)

Guito Moreto / Globo / Getty Images

Genre: Rock
Backstory: This song was a tribute to the bar/nightclub in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais called Bar Nacional. The establishment was well-known in the early ’90s for the insane amounts of beautiful women it would attract.
Why It’s Great: Once released it quickly became an anthem; the funky undertones and chorus are too addicting to ignore.

20. “Beleza Rara” by Banda Eva (1996)

Flickr: Sérgio (Savaman) Savarese/ Creative Commons / Via

Genre: Axé
Backstory: Banda Eva has been a very popular band in Brazil since the early ’90s. They’ve changed female lead singers many times throughout their run, and Ivete Sangalo (pictured here) was hands down the most famous of the those singers.
Why It’s Great: Try listening to it without bouncing around. Go ahead, try.

21. “Preciso Dizer Que Eu Te Amo” by Cazuza (1996)

Flickr: CAFé Simone Pedaços/ Creative Commons / Via Flickr: simonepedacos

Genre: Rock
Backstory: Cazuza is considered one of the best things to ever happen in Brazilian rock music. He had a very successful 9-year run, during which he busted out 11 number one singles.
Why It’s Great: It’s a softer ballad from the rock genius, and the version with Bossa Nova singer Bebel Gilberto is simply gold.

22. “Minha Galera” by Manu Chao (1996)

Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

Genre: Alternative Rock
Backstory: Chao is a Spanish/French singer who records in Spanish, French, Arabic, Italian, English, and Portuguese. He released this single “Minha Galera” as a tribute to the Brazilian people.
Why It’s Great: It pulls at your patriotic heart strings every time.

View this embed ›

23. “Devolva-Me” by Adriana Adriana Calcanhotto (2000)

José Goulão/ Creative Commons / Via

Genre: MPB
Backstory: Calcanhotto released her first album in 1990 and quickly became famous for her soft melancholic melodies. She went on to produce many successful hits way into the 2000s.
Why It’s Great: You can almost hear the sadness in her voice.

Enjoy the full playlist here!

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