Tamil music is trendy in India and many parts of the world, and there’s no shortage of famous Tamil songs to choose from.
While the majority of these songs are from film and television, not all are; but all are worth a listen.
1. “Pudhu Vellai Mazhai” by A. R. Rahman, Sujatha, and Unni Menon
Song Year: 1992
One of the best and most famous Tamil songs comes from the 1992 film Roja. To give you a better idea of what the song is about, knowing the plot of the movie can help.
The movie is about a woman's sister who is about to get married to a man, but he ends up marrying the sister before getting kidnapped.
“Pudhu Vellai Mazhai” is a love song of sorts. While the translations aren't 100%, many of the lyrics are about how if his love is a bird, he'll be the sky and other similar metaphors.
2. “Uyire Uyire” by Hariharan, and Srinivas
Song Year: 1998
Bombay is another hit film with several Tamil songs that are worth mentioning. Of all the songs, “Uyire Uyire” might be the most well-known. The movie is about an interreligious family finding a way to cope with the Bombay riots of the 1990s.
The song features powerful lyrics about how a man is forced to make his wife convert to his religion despite not wanting to.
This Tamil song ties the movie together and has made a lasting impact on everyone who listens to the song or watches the film.
3. “Kadhal Sadugudu” by S.P.B. Charan
Song Year: 2000
In the movie “Alaipayuthey,” a male lead sings a lively song, “Kadhal Sadugudu,” displaying his desire to be near the person he loves. The song encapsulates the emotions one experiences near one loved one and shares a relatable message for those who have yearned for someone.
“Alaipayuthey” is an enduring and romantic film that has maintained popularity despite being released over two decades ago. The movie's several songs encapsulate the central plot, where the male protagonist becomes embroiled in a feud with the father of his beloved.
4. “Janani Janani” by Ilaiyaraaja
Song Year: 1982
If you want to listen to a Tamil song that's a real tear-jerker, you need to listen to “Janani Janani.” Even though the movie it was made for wasn't as big of a hit as other movies, the song remains one of the best Tamil songs available.
The lyrics are all about worshiping Shiva. It's a song about devotion, and anyone who has ever felt a strong passion of any sort will be able to resonate with the emotions pouring out of this song. If you want to learn a Tamil song, the lyrics are repetitive and relatively easy to understand.
5. “Mukkala Mukkabula” by Mano, and Swarnalatha
Song Year: 1994
Unlike all the other Tamil songs we've mentioned so far, “Mukkala Mukkabula” is sung by a male and female lead with a strong chorus at certain parts. The song symbolizes how different the two singers are but how they work so well together as partners and friends.
From the beginning of the song, it has a strong beat that immediately makes you want to clap your hands and dance.
Watching the movie or at least the music video while listening to the song helps tell the story better than just reading the lyrics.
6. “Oh La La La” by K. S. Chithra, Unni Menon, and Srinivas
Song Year: 1996
“Oh La La La” comes from the film Minasara Kanavu, and it's an interesting one, to say the least. The concept of the movie is that the main female lead wants to become a nun even though her father and the man who loves her disapprove.
This leads to many of the songs in the movie, including “Oh La La La,” to be about making her understand how much she means to the guy that loves her. The lyrics are all about how much he loves her and how he doesn't ever want her to go away, aka go away and be a nun.
7. “Unna Nenachu” by Ilaiyaraaja, and Sid Sriram
Song Year: 2020
“Unna Nenachu” is another romantic Tamil song from the movie Psycho. This sign is so interesting compared to the others on our list because it's not from a dramatic or romantic film. Psycho is a thriller and a little scary, depending on who you ask.
Even still, the song is somewhat romantic, depending on how you look at it. Some people think it's a romantic song about someone longing to have someone in their life that they love, while others think it's creepy about the killer stalking their next victim. Watching the movie will give you a better idea of the song.
8. “Chinna Chinna Aasai” by A. R. Rahman, and Minmini
Song Year: 1992
“Chinna Chinna Aasai” translates to “small, small desires.” The song is uplifting and fun to listen to. The lyrics help capture the innocence and best things about childhood, like all the simple things children want.
Other themes from this song include hope, optimism, and joy. The performance is moving and really captures all these emotions well.
9. “Innum Konja Neram” by Shweta Mohan, and Vijay Prakash
Song Year: 2013
If you've ever been in love but couldn't be with the person you love because of distance and other circumstances, then “Innum Konja Neram” is the Tamil song you need to listen to. The whole concept of the song is about being separated from your love.
The song is sad and more of a ballad. Even though it has a sad message, it's still romantic and has a lot of depth to it.
10. “Yenga Pona Raasa” by A. R. Rahman, and Shakthisree Gopalan
Song Year: 2014
This Tamil song isn't the upbeat and fun song that you usually get. “Yenga Pona Raasa” translates to “my lost lover,” and the song is more of a sad, romantic ballad. If you were to ask people familiar with Tamil music, they'd probably tell you this song is A.R. Rahman's best work.
The song is emotional, and if you watch someone perform it, you will likely end up in tears even without knowing what the lyrics are saying.
11. “Life of Pazham” by Dhanush, and Anirudh Ravichander
Song Year: 2022
Tamil songs are known for being fun and upbeat, but they can also be meaningful and have powerful messages. “Life of Pazham” comes from Thiruchitrambalam and features the singer through different ages in their life. Each life stage is represented by another fruit in the film and through the lyrics.
The lyrics explore the challenges and best things about growing up and learning more about yourself. It showcases the complexity of the human journey and will get you thinking.
12. “Enjoy Enjaami” by Santhosh Narayanan, and Dhee, Arivu
Song Year: 2021
This popular Tamil song is roughly translated to “enjoy the fruit.” “Enjoy Enjaami” is from a Tamil album rather than a film, but it's still one of the best Tamil songs available. The song celebrates Tamil culture, including its history, traditions, art, and more.
“Enjoy Enjaami” is a powerful song that brings people, especially Tamil people, together in the best way possible. Even without translating the lyrics, when you listen to this song, you can hear the passion and love that the singer has for Tamil culture.
13. “Inji Iduppazhagi” by Kamal Haasan, S. Janaki, and Minmini
Song Year: 1992
The film Thevar Magan brought this great Tamil song to light. The writer, Vaali, wrote the song all about the beauty of a woman's figure. “Inji Iduppazhagi” loosely translates to “ginger waist.” The song has a flirtatious and playful vibe that puts a smile on most people's faces when they hear it.
If you listen to the song while watching the film, you can better understand the personality the writer wanted the song to showcase. The song features the two leads in romantic situations with some excellent choreography that adds an extra layer of excellence to the song.
14. “Uraiyum Theeyil” by Vishal Chandrasekhar, and Yazin Nizar
Song Year: 2019
“Uraiyum Theeyil” is one of the most recent Tamil songs that we think is worth mentioning. It's from Sita Ramam, and the title roughly translates to “Amid the Flames.” It's a very romantic song that will resonate with anyone who has been or is currently in love.
The lyrics tell the story of two lovers who, despite having challenges, love each other. The lyrics and title metaphorize how their love is like a fire that burns bright no matter what obstacle they face individually and as a couple.
15. “Thillana Thillana” by Sujatha, and Mano
Song Year: 1995
“Thillana Thillana” is a beloved Tamil song from the film Muthu. The song is upbeat and combines traditional and modern Indian beats. The combination of these two styles makes it one of the best Tamil songs you need to listen to.
As for the lyrics, they're all about love. Those who sing the song are talking about how they just want the person they love to take them in their arms and how they make them want to dance with joy to any music that's on.
16. “Columbus Columbus” by A. R. Rahman
Song Year: 1998
The songs from romantic comedies tend to be top-notch, and “Columbus” from Jeans film by A. R. Rahman is no different. The movie's plot is about two people falling in love despite their vastly different upbringings and backgrounds.
The famous Tamil song, “Columbus Columbus,” pays homage to Christopher Columbus in the sense of constantly discovering new things, but in this context, about yourself.
The song is lively and upbeat, making it one of the people's favorites from the movie. Besides the fun music, it's got a great message behind the lyrics.
17. “Usilam Patti” by A. R. Rahman
Song Year: 1993
Gentleman is a famous film about two men who look identical but have entirely different personalities. There are a lot of twists and turns in the movie and plenty of good songs, like “Usilam Patti.”
The title roughly translates to “flatbread maker” for the movie, but the title has no real meaning outside of that.
Without watching the film, the song's context might seem strange, only knowing the movie's lyrics and plot. The lyrics roughly translate to “expert in making..” and then various dishes. It's an appreciation song for a talented person who can make several great dishes.
Best Tamil Songs, Final Thoughts
These best Tamil songs barely skim the surface regarding the number of beautiful songs in the genre. Why not add them all to a playlist and experience what other people love so much about Tamil?