What Languages Are Spoken in Brazil?

Brazilian Portuguese is Brazil’s official and most commonly spoken language. But did you know there are over 200 other languages spoken in Brazil? Latin and Spanish-language musicians have had a major impact on popular music for years, especially in the United States. Not only can listening to Spanish music broaden your cultural horizons, it can also help you learn Spanish vocabulary. To get you started, we’ve collected twenty of the best songs from all over the Spanish-speaking world, from certified classics to chart-topping hits. If you’re serious about learning Spanish, look no further than Rosetta Stone. You’ll pick up Spanish naturally with a unique immersive approach to learning, and the Rosetta Stone app lets you keep practicing on the go. For a list of music that focuses on the contemporary and covers several cultures, check out our list of the year’s best foreign language songs. Best Spanish-language songs 1. La Bamba by Ritchie Valens Originally a Mexican folk song, musician Ritchie Valens adapted La Bamba to a rock and roll sound in 1958 and had an instant hit on his hands. The song has such staying power that rock outfit Los Lobos recorded a cover of it nearly 30 years after Valens’ version released and topped the charts all over again. 2. Bésame Mucho by Consuelo Velázquez The romantic Bésame Mucho (“Kiss Me A Lot”), written in 1940 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez, would go on to become the most covered Spanish-language song in history. The video above is the first known interpretation of the song by Emilio Tuero, but there are plenty of versions to choose from, including a rendition with English lyrics by The Beatles. 3. Con Los Años Que Me Quedan by Gloria Estefan Gloria Estefan released the wistful ballad Con Los Años Que Me Quedan (“With the Years That I Have Left”) after she had already become a star in the English-speaking world with her mega-hit song Conga. Its melancholy lyrics describe a person devoting themselves to a relationship to make up for a past betrayal. 4. Oye Cómo Va by Santana While Oye Cómo Va (“Listen To How”) was originally composed in 1962 by legendary Puerto Rican bandleader and timbales player Tito Puente, it really took off when it was covered by rock band Santana. Santana’s version combines Latin percussion with bluesy guitar licks to create a driving song perfect for the 1970s. 5. Amor Prohibido by Selena Amor Prohibido (“Forbidden Love”) is a Tejano song, fusing Mexican and Texan influences. The album it was featured on—also called Amor Prohibido— was a huge moment for Tejano music, and the album’s success led to Tejano becoming one of the most popular Latin music genres. 6. Bailando by Enrique Iglesias, ft. Descemer Bueno, Gente de Zona Spanish artist Enrique Iglesias is no stranger to success, holding the records for most number one songs by a male artist on the Billboard Hot Latin chart and the Billboard Dance charts. Bailando (“I Am Dancing”) continued that record by being a massive international hit, charting in over 50 countries and sweeping Latin music awards. 7. Cielito Lindo by Quirino Mendoza y Cortés You may not recognize this popular Mexican folk song at first, but it’ll definitely ring a bell when it gets to its chorus that begins with “Ay, ay, ay, ay.” Cielito Lindo (“Lovely Sweet One”) has been covered by artists spanning the world, and is firmly associated with Mexican culture. 8. La Copa de la Vida by Ricky Martin Created for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, La Copa de la Vida (“The Cup of Life”) became a worldwide smash hit and topped the charts in more than 30 countries. Its popularity, along with other hits such as Livin’ la Vida Loca (“Livin’ the Crazy Life”), have earned Puerto Rican artist Ricky Martin the title “The King of Latin Pop.” 9. Ojos Así by Shakira Before Shakira crossed over to the English-language pop scene, her songs were entirely in Spanish. Ojos Así (“Eyes Like This”) is Shakira at her most electric, and its pumping Middle Eastern-inspired beat creates a song that combines her Colombian and Lebanese roots. 10. La Vida Es Un Carnaval by Celia Cruz No list of Spanish music would be complete without a song by Celia Cruz, the Cuban Queen of Salsa. Even late in her half-century-long career she was still releasing hits like La Vida Es Un Carnaval (“Life Is A Carnival”), a song about the beauty of life and how bad times will pass. 11. Gasolina by Daddy Yankee Puerto Rican reggaeton has become a dominant form of Latin pop music, with hit songs like Hips Don’t Lie and Despacito adopting its style. Its global popularity started with Gasolina by Daddy Yankee, which features thumping drums and a catchy hook that make it an instant earworm. 12. De Música Ligera by Soda Stereo Argentinian alternative rock band Soda Stereo didn’t get very popular in the U.S., but they were hugely significant in South and Central America. Their most well-known song De Música Ligera (“Of Light Music”) is emblematic of the Latin rock sound that they would pioneer. 13. Nathalie by Julio Iglesias If Spanish-language music had an official ambassador, it would be Julio Iglesias. The most successful Spanish singer in the world, Iglesias has recorded in 14 languages and collaborated with famous American musicians like Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, and Willie Nelson. Nathalie is a perfect example of why so many listeners love Iglesias: a romantic number in which the singer pines for a lost love. 14. Como El Agua by Camarón de la Isla Como El Agua (“Like Water”) is a prime example of Spanish flamenco music, with its rapid guitar strumming and passionate vocals. Spanish Romani singer Camarón de la Isla, along with the guitarists on this song, Paco de Lucia and Tomatito, are a trio of artists who ushered in a new era of creative exploration for flamenco in the 1970s. 15. Ojalá Que Llueva Café by Juan Luis Guerra With three Grammy Awards and nearly two dozen Latin Grammy Awards under his belt, Dominican musician Juan Luis Guerra is an established and celebrated figure in Latin music. His song Ojalá Que Llueva Café (“I Wish It Would Rain Coffee”) has an upbeat, tropical sound that contrasts with its bittersweet lyrics about the hardships suffered by rural farmers. 16. El Triste by José José A staple of Mexican popular music, El Triste (“The Sad One”) is a song about living on after losing a loved one. Singer José José’s powerful voice and its big brass instrumentation give it a grand and sensational sound that expresses profound sadness. 17. Obsesión by Aventura, ft. Judy Santos Though Aventura was formed in the Bronx, New York, the band’s style is based in Dominican bachata music, characterized by its slow and romantic pace, guitars, and bongos. Obsesión (“Obsession”) was Aventura’s breakthrough hit, and helped popularize a new kind of modern and urban-influenced bachata. 18. Por Una Cabeza by Carlos Gardel Tango was a wildly popular form of music and dance in the early 1900s; between 1903 and 1910, one third of all records released were tango. Carlos Gardel is perhaps the most famous tango singer, and his dramatic song Por Una Cabeza (“By a Head”) is about a gambler at a horse track lamenting the narrow loss of the horse he bet on. 19. El Rey by Vicente Fernández El Rey (“The King”) is a mainstay of ranchera, a genre of traditional Mexican music, with lyrics about a proud man who says he is a king despite his modest and rambling lifestyle. Though this song was originally written by José Alfredo Jiménez, its most well-known version is by famed ranchera singer Vicente Fernández. 20. Rayando El Sol by Maná Maná is the best-selling Latin American band of all time, and their brand of poppy rock music has filled arenas around the world for the past 30 years. Rayando El Sol (literally “Scratching The Sun”) is their first hit, and would feel right at home on any classic rock station today. How to improve your Spanish listening and speaking skills  While you’re listening to Latin music, learn how to converse in Spanish with Rosetta Stone. Not only will you build your vocabulary and grammar knowledge, you’ll also get feedback on your pronunciation through Rosetta Stone’s TruAccent technology so you can work on your accent. Lessons are bite-sized, making it easy to fit them into your busy schedule. Start your first lesson today at rosettastone.com.

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