41 Famous Italian Songs

Contents

12. Quando Quando Quando by Tony Renis 

Song Year: 1962

Tony Renis wrote many popular jazz hits for singers like Diana Ross. But few had the success of “Quando, Quando, Quando.”

The song is a bossa nova and samba hybrid. That gives it a catchy and immediately distinctive rhythm that makes everyone want to dance. And it was an instant hit not only in Italy but around the world.

13. O Patria Mia by Leontyne Price

Song Year: 1985

Leontyne Price wasn’t an Italian singer, but she was the Metropolitan Opera’s favorite interpreter of Verdi’s Aida.

Like many of Verdi’s most successful operas, the plot blends politics with romance. In “O Patria Mia,” a young woman begs her father not to make her choose between loyalty to her country and the man she loves.

It’s one of the best Italian songs of the classical repertoire, and Price sings it with poignancy and dignity.

14. Parole, Parole by Mina

Song Year: 1972

 Initially, Mina and Albert Lupo sang this jazzy Italian favorite as a duet.

It makes the perfect duet because the song is about a love affair gone wrong. The female speaker laments the end of the romance even as her male partner compliments her.

It was equally successful as a French duet and was so popular that even Celine Dion recorded a cover.

15. Amarcord Suite by The Philharmonic Orchestra

Song Year: 1973

Uniquely for this list, “Amarcord Suite” has no lyrics. It’s the theme of Federico Fellini’s movie, Armacord. It’s lyrical, sweeping, and nostalgic. Unsurprisingly, the romantic melody captured the hearts of Italians and North Americans alike.

These days you are as likely to hear the “Amarcord Suite” on a Neapolitan street corner as in the movie theatre.

16. Gloria by Umberto Tozzi

Song Year: 1979

 In the famous Italian song “Gloria,” Tozzi sings about an imaginary woman. She fascinates the speaker, who spends his life searching for his ideal.

Friends deride the speaker and think he’s crazy. In a way, he is, but that doesn’t change the fact that the idea of Gloria lessens the misery of the speaker’s life.

It was immediately popular in Italy. When an American version debuted, it was similarly successful and climbed to the top of the Billboard 100 charts.

 17. O Mio Babbino Caro by Monserrat Caballé

Song Year: 1990

So far we have discussed several songs by Verdi. The other operatic great when talking about classical verismo is Giacomo Puccini. And one of his most famous Italian arias is “O Mio Babino Caro.”

This achingly romantic song is the operatic highlight of the comic opera Gianni Schichi. It’s full of scheming family members trying to steal their inheritance from a dying man.

It's a ludicrous plot, but it spawns one of opera’s most famous love songs. As the relatives plot a bit of daylight robbery, a young woman begs her father to let her marry the man she loves. Otherwise, she will throw herself in the Arno.

18. Senza Una Donna by Zucchero

Song Year: 1987

Don’t be deceived by the English lyrics at the beginning. Despite the Anglicized claim by Zucchero to change the world, once the song gets going, the lyrics are thoroughly Italian.

And rightly so. Zucchero was a famous artist even before he collaborated with Paul Young on “Senza Una Donna.”

 The title means “Without a Woman.” Perhaps because, at the time it debuted Zucchero was filing for divorce, he didn’t want to include the song on his upcoming album. Luckily he listened to his managers: “Senza Una Donna” remains one of the most famous Italian songs of Zucchero’s career.

19. L’Italiano by Toto Cotugno

Song Year: 1983

Any doubt about the enduring popularity of “Litaliano” as one of the best Italian songs ever written was resolved when it promptly sold over 100 million recordings worldwide.

The song was especially popular with Finnish and Chinese audiences, but they weren’t the only countries to enjoy translations of the original. The slow, ambling melody perfectly represents the Italy of outsiders. It’s a bit relaxed, a bit indulgent, and utterly charming.

 20. Mi Mancherai by Josh Groban

Song Year: 2007

Despite its operatic sound, you won’t find “Mi Mancherai” in any opera. Instead, this famous Italian song is part of the film Il Postino.

The title means “I’ll Miss You,” and the impending separation between the speaker and their sweetheart explains those sweeping, operatic overtones that make the melody memorable.

 21. Coro di Zingari by Orchestre de Paris

Song Year: 2013

Verdi is back with another of his famous Italian choruses. The popular name for “Coro di Zingari,” from the opera Il Trovatore, is “The Anvil Chorus.”

It’s easy to see how it got its name. The orchestration is punctuated by sharp, percussive raps that sound like anvils. And the singing alternates between staccato notes and long rhythmic phrases. These combine to produce a chorus that sounds like the forge songs blacksmiths used to sing in time to their hammering. 

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