A fresh playlist of Portuguese fado songs for a bright and cheerful day.
First of all, what is fado? In short, it's a genre of music native to Portugal. Its roots can be traced to the Alfama neighborhood of Lisbon (it also sprouted in the city of Coimbra at a later time) which historically was a poor neighborhood. Many families of sailors lived in this area and so locals spent much time missing those who were away at sea.
Traditional fado music is often slow tempo and melancholic, intensely expressing deep emotion. Its songs are ballads to nostalgia, #saudade, and some of life's most painful experiences - unrequited love, loss, betrayal, being far from home.
But not all fado is tragic and emotional. Some fado, even traditional fado, is celebratory. It celebrates the mundane, the beauty of a city, a lively night with friends, the nuances of love. Fado tells stories about quirky characters and gives a devastating situation a happy melody to make light of it.
Fado Soothes the Soul
What we love about Portuguese fado music is how it helps to embrace your emotions, whether joyful or sad. It has a way of comforting our soul like no other genre of music can. When fadistas sing those elongated notes, they emote lingering turmoil through every second and we feel like someone understands our pain.
And when they swiftly sing their way through the fast tempo and upbeat songs, they radiate glee and lightness that makes a sunny day feel even brighter. Listening to fado is a surprisingly tangible experience where every pluck of the 12-string Portuguese guitar accompanying the fadista is a gentle tug on your heart strings.
A Fado Playlist for Happy Vibes
The playlist we've specially curated for you is what we like to call "happy fado." It's the kind that makes you smile and laugh. These are our favorite fado songs for a sunny day. Some are traditional. Some are contemporary.
Leading the list is our favorite fado song, "Desfado." Loosely translated it means the "unfado." This song is one of Ana Moura's biggest hits and as its title suggests, it breaks from the typical fado sound. It's a bit absurd if you try to make sense of its lyrics, which frolic through a list of contradictions. Imagine if Alanis Morissette adapted "Ironic" for fado.
Other songs share vignettes of fictitious characters, like the the prostitute, Mariquinhas, in "Vou Dar De Beber À Dor" by Amália Rodrigues, the queen of fado. Yet others are odes to Lisbon ("Lisboa Pequenina"), the man who sells chestnuts in the winter ("O Homem das Castanhas"), and to fado itself ("Bairro Alto").
Follow our playlist on Spotify to add a little Portuguese flair to your Sunday mornings. Let it set the mood for your Portuguese dinner party or be the soundtrack at your store. Leave us a comment if you think we've missed a song. And if you scroll a little further, we found you the perfect t-shirt to express your love of fado.
If you love fado, show it! We're super into this t-shirt that says it all -- Fado, the cure for everything.
(P.S. We found this t-shirt while perusing Amazon and may receive a small commission if you purchase it.)