Brazil, also known as the Land of the Palms, is famous for the diversity of its people as well as the variety of its music.
With genres ranging from classic samba and bossa nova to funk and sertanejo, there’s a music style for every kind of individual out there.
Brazilian music, due to its American, African, Amerindian, and European influences, includes many regional styles.
Although samba has become the genre most associated with Brazilian music worldwide, bossa nova has been gaining attention since the 1950s, thanks in large part to songs like “Garota De Ipanema” and “Desafinado.”
Instrumental music can also be easily found in Brazil. Styles range from jazz to pop to classical, with genres to suit everyone’s palette.
Additionally, there’s a growing movement of modern/experimental music writing, including electroacoustic music.
However, this article covers lyrical music – songs that take listeners on a journey through the language and imagery portrayed in their lyrics.
Whether they’re peppy songs, heartbreaking songs, or songs for social change, they all have a message to share.
Below is a list of 15 contemporary and classic hits that every Brazilian knows, and you should know too!
Whether or not you speak Portuguese, you should add some of these songs to your playlist so that you can enjoy Brazilian-style música in your free time.
Table of Contents
1. “Essa Mina É Louca” (“This Girl Is Crazy”)
“Essa Mina É Louca,” which features Jhama, comes from Anitta’s award-winning third album called Bang. Anitta, who was born in Rio de Janeiro, has long been one of the most famous mainstream artists in all of Brazil.
A love song, “Essa Mina É Louca” refers to a girl, whom the narrator constantly refers to as “crazy.”
This girl wants a kiss when the narrator is upset and wants to “live together, giving pleasure,” and the narrator seems to be quite enchanted with this “crazy” girl.
The music video of “Essa Mina É Louca,” featuring a dollhouse, directly refers to the song “Bang,” which comes from Anitta’s album of the same name.
The video’s colorful aesthetics, according to Anitta, strongly contrast with the song’s “black and white” vibe.
2. “Deu Onda” (“Makes Me Want You”)
“Deu Onda” by MC G15 has achieved both domestic and international success.
In fact, it’s become so popular outside of Brazil that there’s even an English-language version of the song – performed by American duo Americano Funk.
The song’s first version, with its explicit language and overtly sexual overtones, was released by GR6 in November 2016. Its cleaner, more innocent version was released by KondZilla as a music video about a month later.
The video was an instant hit on YouTube, garnering almost 19 million views in just one week. It surpassed Anitta’s “Yes or No” video, which had 11 million views at the time.
But perhaps the song’s biggest feat was becoming Spotify’s most played song on its worldwide playlist on January 3, 2017.
According to MC G15, the artist behind “Deu Onda,” the song had two sources of inspiration: his girlfriend, Ingrid, and the horror movie Invocation of Evil.
MC G15 and Americano Funk aren’t the only artists that have performed this song. Anitta has also played this song in her shows, further proving that this song is a gem.
3. “Garota De Ipanema” (“Girl from Ipanema)
“Garota De Ipanema” is a fusion of bossa nova e jazz. The song became an international sensation in the 1960s, ultimately winning a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965.
It was written in 1962 by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes.
The backstory of the song: the two musicians were sitting at a bar near Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro when they caught a glimpse of an extraordinarily beautiful woman, who happened to be named Helô Pinheiro.
Inspired by her beauty, they wrote the lyrics of the song on a bar napkin, eventually turning it into a famous hit.
The song is said to be the second most recorded song ever, after The Beatles’ “Yesterday.”
In 2001, it was inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame, and, in 2004, the Library of Congress added the song to the National Recording Registry.
In 2009, the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone voted the song as the 27th best Brazilian song.
4. “Vidinha de Balada” (“Life of the Party”)
“Vidinha de Balada” became one of Brazil’s biggest hits in 2017. Performed by Henrique and Juliano, a Brazilian sertanejo duo, this light-hearted love song has touched the hearts of millions all over the country and across the globe.
It’s quite common for sertanejo acts to perform as duos, and this Brazilian pair is quickly becoming one of the most famous sertanejo duos in all of Brazil.
Henrique and Juliano first achieved fame on YouTube, where they performed “Cuida Bem Dela.” The video amassed 100 million views, bringing the duo to internet fame.
5. “Já Sei Namorar” (“I Already Know How to Flirt”)
Although the band Tribalistas didn’t last very long, its song “Já Sei Namorar” has stood the test of time. The song was one of the act’s few big hits, and it shaped the alternative rock and avant-garde scene of Brazil during the early 2000s and beyond.
Its title, whose verb “namorar” has two different meanings, can be read as a pun. One version suggests that the narrator is mature and responsible enough to be in a steady relationship.
The other suggests that the narrator wants to fool around or have sex.
Tribalistas had three members: Marisa Monte, Carlinhos Brown, and Arnaldo Antunes. Although the band only lasted a short time, it was hugely popular during its day.
6. Ainda Há Tempo (There’s Still Time)
Although not a song but an album, Ainda Há Tempo is certainly worth mentioning on this list. The songs are performed by Criolo, one of the most popular rappers in Brazil.
To this day, many Brazilians listen to the album’s songs on their playlists, a testament to the immense popularity and success of Criolo’s music.
In addition to his unique musical talent and modest personality, the artist is also known for his strong social and moral values and efforts to achieve social justice and equality.
He’s especially known for his fight against racial discrimination as well as his advocacy on behalf of youth growing up in the Brazilian suburbs (due to their limited prospects).
Criolo claims that his childhood experience of being exposed to different situations and ways of life has influenced his music in addition to his moral and social values.
7. “Mas Que Nada” (“Just Nothing”)
Written and recorded by Jorge Ben in 1963, “Mas Que Nada” would ride on a wave of popularity for a long, long time.
The Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone rated the song as the 5th greatest Brazilian song, and, in 2013, it was inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame.
The American band Black Eyed Peas recorded a version of “Mas Que Nada” for the movie Rio, catapulting the song to even more fame and recognition.
The phrase “mas que nada,” which is used colloquially to disagree with someone, means “no way” or “whatever.” However, the song maintains a fun and playful vibe.
8. “Você Partiu Meu Coração” (“You Broke My Heart”)
Originally a funk singer, Nego do Borel adjusted his music to reach a wider audience.
His efforts were a success, as one can see with the popularity of “Você Partiu Meu Coração,” a song recorded by duo Borel that features Anitta and Wesley Safadão.
The latter, a Brazilian sertanejo artist, has showcased his rare talent with his singing performance. The song, in turn, has propelled the young singer to fame, earning him well-deserved recognition throughout the country.
The music video of the song was recorded in 2017 during the pre-Carnival festivities of Rio de Janeiro.
Although the video features the song, the video itself was inspired by Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, a Brazilian novel written by Jorge Amado.
The video was met with unprecedented success, reaching 2.8 million views within 24 hours, and becoming the most-watched video in Brazil within that span of time.
“Baby” by the Os Mutantes band is, to many people, the epitome of funk.
Depending on which song version one is listening to, the song can be an emotional piece that allows listeners to channel their inner adolescent, or it can be a whimsical and surreal piece.
A famous band in the 1960s, Os Mutantes thrived during the Tropicália movement, a time period that welcomed avant-garde style of music.
It also mixed Brazilian traditional music with foreign influences, essentially creating a new form of music. Perhaps most importantly, the movement openly opposed the Brazilian dictatorship of the 1960s.
Sometime after the band debuted their work in the mid-1960s, the group became one of the most familiar fixtures of the “new MPB” (popular Brazilian music) scene.
This popularity carried on until they officially disbanded in 1978.
Following a long hiatus from the 1970s to the 2000s, the band got back together in 2006, recording new music and going on tours once again.
10. “Essa Novinha é Terrorista” (“This Young Girl is a Terrorist”)
“Essa Novinha é Terrorista” is a playful song about a girl, a “terrorist,” dancing at a baile funk party along with her friends.
The dance is similar to twerking, and the narrator is watching her dance, admiring her moves and confidence as she’s enjoying herself.
The narrator, throughout the song, says that the girl is “very explosive” and that she’s causing an “explosion,” showing the narrator’s amazement at this person.
Performed by Brazilian singer-songwriter and funk artist MC Kevinho, “Essa Novinha é Terrorista” became one of the most popular songs at the 2017 Carnival.
11. “Acordando o Predio” (“Waking Up the Building”)
Luan Santana blends pop and sertanejo music, creating a fusion that’s become quite popular with both his Brazilian and international audiences.
His national success eventually turned into international stardom when his album 1977 was nominated for Best Sertaneja Music Album at the 2017 Annual Latin Grammy Awards.
Later, in 2019, his album Live Móvel was nominated for the same award.
However, with hits like “Acordando o Predio,” one can understand why Santana became a music sensation. The song is a sensual piece about making love.
The narrator is fully present, letting all the worries of the world pass him by as he’s making love.
The song has obviously resonated with audiences. It has more than 294 million views on YouTube and continues to grow.
12. “Meu Nome É Gal” (“My Name is Gal”)
Celebrated musicians Roberto and Erasmo Carlos wrote “Meu Nome É Gal” with singer Gal Costa in mind. After all, she had (and still has) one of the most beautiful and recognizable voices in all of Brazilian music.
In the song, the narrator, supposedly Costa herself, says who she is as a person and what she wants – a boy who will love her.
Like Os Mutantes, she joined the Tropicália movement, recording four songs for the album Tropicália: ou Panis et Circenses.
One of those songs, “Baby,” became Costa’s solo hit nationwide, eventually turning into a Brazilian pop classic.
During that same year, she joined the 3rd International Music Festival, where she performed Roberto and Erasmo Carlos’ “Gabriela Mais Bela.”
Later, she took part in Rede Record’s 4th Music Festival, where she performed “Divino Maravilhoso,” written by Gil and Veloso. The song ended up becoming a national hit, as well as a pop classic.
It was in 1969 that Costa released her solo debut album. Gal Costa, as it was called, became a Tropicalismo classic, fusing Brazilian style with North American psychedelic music.
Although her following album, Legal, didn’t achieve as much success, Costa has remained one of the most beloved singers in the Brazilian music scene.
She has also achieved acclaim outside of Brazil, with songs of hers being recorded in several languages, including Portuguese, English, and Spanish.
13. “Abre o Portão Que Eu Cheguei” (“Open the Door, I’ve Arrived”)
A talented sertanejo singer and national heartthrob, Gusttavo Lima mostly sings about love and relationships.
It was in 2012 during his US tour that he achieved international fame, later becoming recognized in Europe for his single “Balada” (“Party”).
His song “Abre o Portão Que Eu Cheguei” is another one for the books. The piece is about the narrator and his manipulative love interest.
The latter “only [wants him] out of pleasure,” not out of love, making the narrator go crazy for this person.
The narrator acknowledges that his love interest has him “in the palm of [her] hands.” Yet, he continues to chase her because he finds her irresistibly attractive and alluring.
14. “O Bêbado E A Equilibrista” (“The Drunk and the Tightrope Walker”)
“O Bêbado E A Equilibrista” was written by Aldir Blanc and João Bosco. The song, however, didn’t really take off until singer Elis Regina put her spin on it.
Primarily a pop and jazz musician, Regina is also the mother of Maria Rita and Pedro Mariano, well-known and successful singers in their own right.
Regina came into the national spotlight in 1965 when she sang “Arrastão,” a song composed by Edu Lobo and Vinícius de Moraes, in the TV Excelsior song contest.
Afterward, she joined a television program called O Fino da Bossa, where she further cemented her reputation as an impressive vocalist.
She also showcased her ability to adapt songs to her particular singing style and have a strong stage presence.
Her hit songs include “Upa Neguinho,” “Como Nossos Pais,” “Madalena,” “Atrás da Porta,” “Casa no Campo,” and, of course, “O Bêbado e a Equilibrista.”
Again, it wasn’t until Regina added her flair to the song that it became a hit.
The song, which refers to a prominent sociologist living in exile, was part of a campaign that opposed the Brazilian dictatorship and became an essential factor that led to the Amnesty Law.
This law would eventually free political prisoners and allow the exiled to return home to Brazil.
15. “Meu Coração Deu PT” (“My Heart is Totally Broken”)
Starring Wesley Safadão and featuring Matheus and Kauan, “Meu Coração Deu PT” is a tragic song about heartbreak and lost love.
Known for songs with similar themes, which is typical of sertanejo music, Safadão has moved millions of hearts in Brazil.
Safadão began singing when he was 15 and started his professional career as a singer when he joined a band called Garota Safada.
In 2015, the band released “Camarote,” which launched the band to national prominence.
When Safadão went solo, he continued releasing songs, such as “Coração Machucado,” “Ninguém É de Ferro,” “Aquele 1%,” “Air Conditioning no 15”, and perhaps most famously, “Meu Coração Deu PT.”
The latter song was released in 2016 and, to this day, can be regularly heard in bars, clubs, and stores. It’s about the narrator stumbling upon his ex-girlfriend being intimate with another man.
Upon seeing this, he’s heartbroken, claiming he’s “not fine at all.”
The piece ends with the narrator laying the past with his ex to rest, albeit very sadly.