With the 20th edition of the Football World Cup (or Soccer to you pesky Americans!), kicking off in just under a month’s time in Brazil, aside from all the sporting goodness that will take place for a whole 31 days, what state are the musical prospects of the prosperous South American country in?
Well, if you took a look at the ‘One Love, One Rhythm’ official album released by FIFA, you’ll see a hot-potch of representative music, ‘Lepo, Lepo’ by Psirico is a breezy sax-laden tune for starters, and a bunch of chart stars thrown in to boost sales, the musical plague that is Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and everyone’s favourite Latino Ricky Martin. But a real sample of Brazilian music offers so much more than this Western-take of what we THINK Brazilian’s listen to and create.
One look at what is topping the Brazilian charts, Coldplay aside, is a unique twist on the current EDM-craze hitting the Western world. Pop star, Anitta is a big star in her homeland, netting her both the most-watched YouTube video and fastest-selling single in Brazil, ever! For a country used to indulging in the world-wide reaching uber successful bands, it is nice to see such trust in young, homegrown talent. The music itself isn’t ground-breaking at all, but there’s something appealing to the dulcet sounds of the Portuguese language in song that makes it all the more bearable to listen to!
Next up is a whole genre unique to Brazilian tastes, may I present to you; funk ostentacao, officially described as ‘songs whose themes refer to conscious consumption’…so sorta like rap music! One of the themes that can be contained within funk ostentacao is one of leaving the slums and ‘an ambition to win’, which does set it out somewhat from conventional rappers of the modern-day who’re most interesting in more dubious areas, but again the parallels are there to rap music, with ‘leaving the hood’ a theme many rap aficionados are well aware of. The leader of said genre is a guy called MC Guime, best known for songs like “Plaquê de 100” and “Pais do Futebol”, the latter of which I HAVE listened to! It involves more signing than traditional rap, but features a bouncy backing beat and a more conventional rapper joins him on the track.
One of the most well-known Brazilian musicians is Sergio Mendes, he who brought the glorious Mas Que Nada to the mainstream, had also managed to transport the majestic Brazilian percussion bands, who use drums entirely, to record. Check out his 1992-Grammy winning record, ‘Brasilero’, for the fantastic ‘Cabua-Le-Le’, a track that brought together 100 drummers together in a Rio de Janiero car park to deliver such an awesome sound. Throw in the charming vocals and underlying acoustics and it’s a riotous affair, of vibrancy and happiness. Then go back to Mas Que Nada for some classic soul and wait for that piano to kick in!
With a name like a typical Brazilian footballer, Gonzaguinha is an artist that brings the spirit of carnival to the masses, with all manner of acoustic guitars and a maraca shaking beat that doesn’t go away alongside the fragile and poetic Portuguese tones. ‘O Que é, o Que é?’, is a really relaxing tune to listen to, but manages to still be a party song at the same time, which is some feat! Finishing with a singer commonly regarded as the best female Brazilian of all time, Ellis Regina, whose wonderful ‘Como Nossos Pais’, is a great, unique song.It has a great tribal drum beat that accompanies Regina’s guiding vocals, before she primally screams in the middle which see American country guitars join the party, it’s a slow-burner, relaxing song that manages to squeeze in all manner of styles and instrumentation to accompany the one constant: the incredible vocals of the husky Ellis Regina. Definitely one to check out.
If it got one thing right, at least that FIFA album got a magnificent piece of album art together, but for a real slice of Brazilian music, dig a little deeper and you’ll be sure to find some gems from this special country of culture. The greatest thing about this country is that there is no one discernible genre you can pin to the entire nation, not like Brit-pop for the UK or flamenco for Spain, no Brazil encompasses so many different inspirations, from African, European and American music, that when mixed with their own origins creates some special, unique music. The football may be the biggest deal going on with Brazil this summer, but in turn, hopefully the musical stars of the nation will achieve some much due attention for their talents.