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From picking up new vocabulary to perfecting the perfect pronunciation, listening to foreign language music can help learners 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 pop songs to help perfect the lingo.
A favourite of Italian teachers everywhere, Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu is more commonly known simply as Volare – to fly. It was popularised outside of Italy by Dean Martin so many will already be familiar with the song’s soaring chorus. Check out Domenico Modugno’s original version with simple verses sung to a rhythmic, easy to remember melody.
Singer-songwriter, composer, filmmaker and painter Franco Battiato is known for his eclectic approach to music. As well as trying out many musical styles, Battiato often features philosophical and esoteric themes in his lyrics. Not for beginners, La Cura is a masterclass in poetic devices with plenty of complex vocabulary to study.
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.
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.
Super 90s, incredibly cheesy and yet infectiously uplifting, Bella by Jovanotti will have even the most reluctant beginner singing along in no time. What’s more, the adjective-laden lyrics are great for developing everyday vocabulary. After mastering Bella, move on to some more Jovanotti classics like Tanto, Tanto, Tanto and Mi Fido di Te.
Sang by the slippery smooth Tiziano Ferro, this song explores how opposites attract and two very different individuals can create the perfect match. After a few listens you’ll be better equipped to have deep and meaningful talks with your new Italian love interest.
Native Italian speakers often talk at what seems like lightning-speed to a beginner, so slow things down with this ballad by songstress Arisa. Singing about how she feels during the lonely hours of the night without that special someone, Arisa helpfully provides lots of vocabulary about the human body – ginocchia, stomaco, fegato, and testa all feature.
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.