Top 10 Bossa Nova Songs

The Most Recorded Songs...

Of course, hit lists are always a gross simplification and many loving details have to be neglected. But to get an overview, to be inspired or just to do something thoughtless during a practice break – certainly helpful!

This list is based on the number of recordings for each of these songs as listed on secondhandsongs. You will find all of these songs and many more in the Playlist at the end of the page.

So, without further ado, ten of the most famous bossa nova songs:


The Girl From Ipanema
Tom Jobim
822 Recordings

Not least because of the Netflix series of the same name, this song is on everyone’s lips again. Without a doubt the most famous bossa nova song of all time. The famous Brazilian guitarist Joao Gilberto interprets the piece in his own unmistakable style that defined the Bossa Nova.

Learn the chords in the arrangement by Joao Gilberto!


Manha de Carnaval
Luiz Bonfa
706 Recordings

The guitarist Luiz Bonfa has set a monument with Manha de Carnaval. One of the most popular pieces for getting started in the world of bossa nova, but also for advanced improvisation, as three of the most virtuoso guitarists of the 20th century prove here.

Learn the melody to Manha de Carnaval!


Tom Jobim
651 Recordings

Astrud Gilberto sang about “Quiet Night of Quiet Stars” in 1963 and the world is still at her feet today. Corcovado is the name of the famous mountain in Rio de Janeiro, on which the Christ the Redeemer statue also stands.

Learn the chords in the arrangement by Joao Gilberto!


Insensatez / How Insensitive
Tom Jobim
556 Recordings

How Insensitive is one of the most beautiful ballads by Tom Jobim. The harmonic structure is very similar to Corcovado, featuring many diminished chords that create that special, melancholic feeling…

Read more about How Insensitive…


Tom Jobim
488 Recordings

Since its first recording in 1967, Wave has become an instant favourite among musicians. Jobim crafted a sophisticated voice leading below the melody and the form of the first part is basically a blues. No wonder that especially jazz musicians came to like it!


One Note Samba
Tom Jobim
476 Recordings

The title of the song refers indeed to the melody which, for most part of the song, consists of a repeated single note. It is one of the first released Bossa Nova tunes, dating back to 1960, when Joao Gilberto recorded it on his album  O Amor, o Sorriso e a Flor.


Aqualero do Brasil (Brazil)
Ary Barroso
435 Recordings

Ary Barroso was one of the stars of samba music. So this song has a different flair, a different tempo, than many of the tracks on this list. With its catchy melody, it is one of the hits of Brazilian music.

Learn the typical samba rhythm “Partido Alto”!


Tom Jobim
424 Recordings

A piece by Jobim for a change. “Slightly out of Tune” is the musical response to criticism of Bossa Nova music. 

A succesful response!

Here you will find exercises for the melody of Desafinado!


Chega De Saudade
Tom Jobim
404 Recordings

No More Blues! said Tom Jobim and is said to be the first bossa nova song recorded. What is interesting is the connection between the blues feeling and the classic Portuguese saudade, which could possibly be compared to the feeling of longing.



Tom Jobim
386 Recordings

Once again, an ouststanding ballad by Tom Jobim. The chords in the first part are very suitable to exercise your basic seventh chords on the guitar.

Here you can find an arrangement for solo guitar!

These are the TOP10 Bossa Nova songs. Because there are only two out of these 10 songs that are not by Tom Jobim, I decided two feature two more very famous songs by other writers: 


bruno Martino
326 Recordings

A comparatively unknown Italian pianist writes a bossa nova song and the great Joao Gilberto includes it in his repertoire. A story almost as beautiful as the song.

Learn a solo arrangement of this beautiful ballad!


Summer Samba
Marcos Valle
274 Recordings

Although billed as samba, this track has become a bossa nova hit. The catchy chords contrast the special, chromatic melody.

Here you will find an introduction to Bossa Nova melody!

Bossa Nova Spotify Playlist

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