100 ESSENTIAL BRAZILIAN SONGS YOU MUST HEAR Part 3: The 1960s

As the bossa nova movement evolves in the early 1960s, Brazil’s original aestheticism gives way to the introduction of political themes. The politicization of popular music would take shape under Brazil’s military dictatorship of 1964 leading to the so-called “protest song“, of which one of the most emblematic is Caminhando (“Walking”) by Geraldo Vandré. It is the time of great musical festivals, when a “university” generation of composers and singers appeared. Artists such as Chico Buarque and Edu Lobo would be idolized by intellectuals and were instrumental in the creation of Música Popular Brasileira (Brazilian Popular Music) or MPB, a movement initially linked to political engagement against dictatorship.

The Tropicália movement was also a form of protest song that appeared during the same period; it was characterized by the eclectic blend of pop culture elements -such as rock- with the elite culture -the modernist and concretist schools of visual arts- having a more erudite and experimental character. The Bahians Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil were the main exponents of this movement.

The Iê-iê-iê style (Brazil’s rock’n’roll of the 60s, the equivalent of France’s yé-yé) was “softer” in Brazil than in the USA or UK, adopting a more romantic style. This movement came to be known as Jovem Guarda (Young Guard) and had huge commercial success. Its more representative artists were Roberto Carlos, Erasmo Carlos, Tim Maia and Wanderléa, among others.

These are some of the greatest songs of this period:


11) João Gilberto – “Corcovado” (1960) 

Corcovado” was written by Antônio Carlos Jobim in 1960 and refers to Rio de Janeiro’s iconic  Corcovado mountain. An English version was later released with the title “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars“.

This song was included in the album Brazil’s Brilliant João Gilberto, which was released in the United States in 1960. It was the record that introduced João Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and bossa nova to the American audience, before Stan Getz scored a hit with “Desafinado”.

 

12) Carlos Lyra – “Minha Enamorada” (1960) 

This song (“My beloved”) is the most successful fruit of Carlos Lyra’s partnership with “El poetinha” Vinicius de Moraes.

“Minha Namorada” was released during the bossa nova boom, but in terms of rhythm and melody it does not have much to do with it. It is a romantic, tender and sincere ballad; Lyra and Vinicius wrote other emblematic songs, but few were as perennial as this one.

 

13) Maysa – “O Barquinho” (1961) 

One of Brazil’s most charismatic divas, known as “the Janis Joplin of Bossa Nova” due to her tumultuous personal life, Maysa would become influential for a whole generation of Brazilian artists.

This song (the title means “Little boat”) was reportedly composed by Roberto Menescal and Ronaldo Bôscoli while being with friends on a boat; suddenly the engine broke down, and the sound of the motor when they were trying to restart the boat made the tune for “O Barquinho”. It was re-recorded many times, but this is one of the most successful and beautiful versions.

 

14) João Gilberto and Stan Getz – “So Danço Samba” (1962)

“Só Danço Samba” was composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim, with lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes; it was suggested that the song was part of a failed movement to invent a bossa nova dance.

Só Danço Samba became in instant classic with hundreds recordings over the decades. With English lyrics provided by Norman Gimbel, it gained immediate international popularity under the titles Jazz Samba, Jazz ‘n’ Samba or occasionally I Only Dance Samba (literal translation of the original Portuguese title).

 

15) Antônio Carlos Jobim – “Água De Beber” (1963)

“Drinking-Water” was composed by Brazil’s towering figure of bossa nova and one of the great songwriters of the century Antônio Carlos Jobim, with lyrics by another fundamental figure in Brazilian music, the co-father of bossa nova, Vinicius de Moraes.

This song was composed to be performed on the inauguration day of the new Brazil capital, Brasilia. It has had many re-recordings; some great versions are those by Astrud Gilberto, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.

 

16) Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto and Stan Getz – “The Girl from Ipanema” (1964)

This is arguably Brazil’s most iconic song; the sound of an era in which bossa nova was the lingua franca of the country and this song its anthem.

Summer 1962, Rio de Janeiro. The story goes that Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes were sitting at a bar near Ipanema Beach in Rio, when they saw the most beautiful woman walking by, and they immediately wrote this song down on a bar napkin! (not quite exactly the truth, though, read more here). The original version, Garota de Ipanema was released in 1962. Nevertheless, while an Ipanema girl named Heloísa inspired the song, it was another Carioca who made it famous worldwide.

Astrud Gilberto was the wife of singing star João Gilberto, when she entered a New York studio in March 1963. João and Jobim were making a record of the song with tenor saxman Stan Getz. The idea of a verse in English came up, and Astrud was the only one of the Brazilians who spoke English. The song with the name “The Girl from Ipanema” was released and it rapidly became a huge worldwide hit. Indeed, it is the second most re-recorded song in history after The Beatles’ “Yesterday”.

 

17) Demônios da Garoa – “Trem das onze” (1964)

This song (English: “The 11 P.M. Train”) was composed by São Paulo singer and composer Adoniran Barbosa; it portrays, in a tragicomical way, the drama of a lover who lives in a distant suburb of São Paulo, and who cannot stay longer with his beloved woman because the last train will be departing soon, at 11 p.m, and his mother won’t sleep until he gets home. “Trem das Onze” is an example of both samba paulista  (samba developed in São Paulo) and samba-de-breque (here).

It was released in 1964 and made famous that same year by the samba group Demônios da Garoa. It is one of the best known Brazilian popular songs and considered of the most representative cultural symbols of the city of São Paulo.

 

18) Moacir Santos – “Nanã – Coisa Número 5” (1965)

“Coisas” (“Things”) is the debut album by composer, maestro and multi-instrumentalist Moacir Santos. It was released in 1965; the ten tracks of the album were named as “Things” – numbered from 1 to 10. The LP was chosen by the Brazilian Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the 100 best Brazilian records of all time.

 

19) Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 – “Mas que nada ” (1966)

If you want to hear good, uplifting samba, this is the song! Mas que nada (the English translation would be “come on” or “yeah! Right”) was the first hit of an artist who would became a real school within Brazil’s popular music, Jorge Ben (later, Jorge Ben Jor). It was an impressive hit in 1963, and the beginning of Jorge Ben’s career.

But I have to say I love this version by another great artist, Sergio Mendes. With this song he managed to go beyond Brazil’s borders in 1966, and then again in 2006 when he re-recorded with The Black Eyed Peas

 

20) Walter Wanderley Trio – “Samba de Verão” (1966)

“Summer Samba” (also known as “So Nice”) was first popularized by Walter Wanderley Trio in 1966 — the album Rain Forest on which it was issued reached platinum status in 1970. The song became an instant success, with radio stations playing it constantly. Also in 1966 the trio accompanied Astrud Gilberto on her A Certain Smile, a Certain Sadness album, which features a beautiful, sung version of this song.

Although immortalized as an “easy listening” or “lounge music” artist, Wanderley music was at that time innovative and revolutionary. The percussive rhythms reminiscent of a Brazilian black tradition were not dear to many Brazilians; in fact most of his successful career took place in the United States.

 

21) Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes – “Canto de Ossanha” (1967)

In candomblé (an Afro-American religious tradition), there is no ceremony without the presence of Ossanha,  the entity that holds the magic force – the axé – necessary in every ritual. Perhaps this is the reason why “Canto de Ossanha” is the opening track of Os Afro-Sambas, the third album emerged from the partnership between the music of Baden Powell and the lyrics of Vinicius de Moraes.

This syncretism of Brazil with Africa via Bahia, now so natural, was not taken for granted in the 60s. “Canto de Ossanha” helped the sound of Afro-Brazilian religions, systematically persecuted until two decades before, become an inextricable part of Brazil’s music and culture.

A great cover of this song was released in 2006 by Jurassic 5.

 

22) Caetano Veloso – “Alegria, Alegria” (1967)

“Happiness, Happiness” is a song written and performed by Caetano Veloso. Often referred to as “the Brazilian anthem of 1967”, it later appeared on his influential eponymous 1968 album.

This was the song that introduced the Tropicália movement to Brazil. The ideal exposed by the song lyrics was first presented at a memorable live performance in 1967, reinforced by the Argentine group Beat Boys, who added visual aesthetics. It was a hit at the time, and was often sung during public manifestations in favor of impeachment.

 

23) Wilson Simonal – “Nem Vem Que Não Tem” (1967)

An emblematic figure of Brazil’s popular music, Wilson Simonal was a singer with great success in the 1960s and 1970s, although he was relatively unknown outside of South America.

This is his biggest international hit (the title would be translated as “Don’t even think about it!”); it was adapted and recorded by French singer Zanini, who made a hit with the song “Tu veux ou tu veux pas”.

 

24) Edú Lobo and Marília Medalha – “Ponteio” (1967)

A singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer, Edú Lobo is one of the driving forces behind the MPB movement. He has worked with the most important Brazilian artists and his songs were covered by big names of international music such as Sarah Vaughan and Earth, Wind & Fire.

This is one of his most famous songs, performed here with Marília Medalha; with this song they were the winners of the  III Festival de Música Popular Brasileira/FMPB in 1967.

 

25) Chico Buarque and Mpb4- “Roda Viva” (1967)

Arguably one of Brazil’s most renowned songwriters and singers, Chico Buarque is an iconoclastic figure in post-bossa nova Brazilian music.  With his distinctive voice, elegant phrasing, and considerable skill at lyric writing, Buarque  became extremely popular in the 1960s –particularly among women, as he was very handsome. However, Buarque resented the role of pop star and chose to be seen as a serious artist.

Roda Viva (“The wheel of life”) is a song that Buarque wrote for the eponymous play; it was a criticism to the obsessive fan culture. During the play, the pop star protagonist was literally torn apart and his flesh consumed by his fans; the performers would also offer the audience pieces of the dead pop star’s flesh to eat (it was chicken meat). Needless to say, the military dictatorship in charge those years did not like the idea of the play and soldiers were sent out to disrupt the performances, destroy sets and assault performers; Chico Buarque himself was briefly jailed.

 

26) Os Mutantes – “Panis Et Circenses” (1968)

Os Mutantes (“The Mutants”) are one of the most talented and influential Brazilian psychedelic rock bands that were linked with the Tropicália movement. Their unique blend of psychedelic rock, bossa nova, tropicália and samba has inspired many contemporary American and European artists, who cite Os Mutantes as a major influence. With many changes from the original line-up featuring Rita LeeArnaldo Baptista and Sérgio Dias, the band has been active since then, with their last album being released in 2013.

The title  of this song means “Bread and Circuses”, and it is an allusion to the classical poet Juvenal, who scorned ancient Romans for their easy and predictable manipulation through bread and circus.  The song, in turn, is a satire of bourgeois conventions. In the lyrics, a first-person poetic voice tries desperately to alarm the family, to snap them out of their mental and physical stagnation; the attempt is futile.  During these early years of military rule in Brazil, when economic liberalization brought quick financial boons to the complaisant and complicit upper middle class, expressions of rejection of these mores were frequent in Brazilian music.

 

27) Caetano Veloso – “Tropicália” (1968)

The opening track of the first tropicalista album by Caetano Veloso, “Alegria, Alegria. It was very popular upon its release in Brazil, and the Brazilian press used the song title “Tropicália” to christen the larger artistic movement it represented “Tropicalismo”, to the disdain of Caetano himself. Later it was re-recorded by Gal Costa and inspired a homonymous song, released by the American Beck, declared lover of the movement.

Although Caetano has expressed displeasure with the album, it often shows up on lists of greatest Brazilian albums, and was inducted into the Latin Grammy Award Hall of Fame in 2001.

 

28) Geraldo Vandré – “Pra não dizer que não falei das flores” (1968)

Also known as “Caminhando” (“Walking”; or “Not to say that I haven’t spoken about the flowers”), it was composed by Geraldo Vandré and was presented at the III International Festival of Song of TV Globo in 1968 where it ranked second (the winner was “Sabiá”). It caused a great controversy at that time because the public, mostly students thirsting for protest songs, booed the jury’s decision and made the explosive “Pra Não Dizer…” a sort of anthem of a generation.

The song was considered by the dictatorship a mockery of the armed forces; public playing of the song was forbidden, all the registers of Vandré’s presentation at the festival were deleted, and Vandré became one of the most hunted persons in the country, forced eventually to flee the country. The song was finally released 11 years later, with the end of dictatorship.

Walking is still used to remember the situation the country was going through at the time and to keep alive the memories of those who were victims of the hard times of dictatorship. It has been re-recorded many times, of which one of the most iconic is the one by Simone; the latter was lately sampled by Reboot and Federico Scavo.

 

29) Gilberto Gil – “Domingo No Parque” (1968)

With this song (“Sunday at the park”) Gilberto Gil got the second place at the 1967 III Festival of Popular Music, accompanied by Os Mutantes; it was later released in the album Gilberto Gil (1968). Gil, together with Caetano Veloso, became the leader of Brazil’s Tropicalia movement. His musical style provided a more universal sound to the music played at that time and added Bahian elements, such as the sound of the berimbau and capoeira. He is undoubtedly one of Brazil’s, and the world’s most celebrated singer/songwriters, with a musical career that has successfully spanned six decades, with hits in each one.

 

30) Noriel Vilela – “Dezesseis Toneladas” (1969)

With his signature deep bass voice, Noriel Vilela made a career first as a member of the samba vocal group Cantores de Ebano. His 1969 solo album “Eis o Ôme” is a succession of sambalanço songs with strong afro influence. This was Vilela’s greatest hits, which is a Portuguese version of the American classic “Sixteen Tons” by Ernie Ford and Merle Travis.

The latest years Vilela enjoys a cult revival among fans of sambalanço. In 2014 “Dezesseis Toneladas” was used for a famous beer commercial, and since then it has been re-recorded several times.

Coming soon:

  • The 1970s
  • The 1980s 
  • The 1990s
  • The 2000s – 2010s

 

100 ESSENTIAL BRAZILIAN SONGS YOU MUST HEAR Part 2: The 1930s, 40s & 50s


In my previous post I presented an overview of Brazil’s music history and styles. This article will focus on the music of the first half of the twentieth century.

During this period, Brazil’s Teatro de Revista became a very popular genre, inspired by European operetta. It reached its peak in the 30s and revealed talents like Carmen Miranda, Wilza Carla, Dercy Gonçalves and Elvira Pagan, who had immense success.

Also in the late 1930s, the so-called Radio Era began in Brazil. As the process of recording discs was still primitive with poor quality results, the radio became the preferred circulation channel for new productions. This communication medium played an important role on the diffusion of popular music until well into the 1950s, but it quickly lost space when television became popular. Some performers that conquered the national audience were Dolores Duran, Dalva de Oliveira, Cauby Peixoto, Nora Ney, Emilinha Borba, Marlene, Vicente Celestino and Ângela Maria.

During this period the popularity of samba intensifies, and by the end of the 50’s bossa nova starts making its appearance.

These are 10 representative songs of the 30s – 40s – 50s:


1) Francisco Alves – “Aquarela do Brasil” (1939) 

Known in the English-speaking world simply as “Brazil“, it’s one of the most famous Brazilian songs, written by Ary Barroso. With this song, he created the genre known as samba exaltation for speaking of Brazil’s great qualities. “Aquarela do Brasil” became successful after being included in Walt Disney’s animated film Saludos Amigos. Since then, it has been recorded numerous times throughout the years, and was featured prominently in Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film Brazil.

After “Garota de Ipanema”, it is the most recorded Brazilian song in the four corners of the planet. This wonderful original version was performed by Francisco Alves; other great covers are those by Elis Regina and João Gilberto.

 

2) Dorival Caymmi – “O Mar” (1940) 

No other composer of Brazilian music portrayed the sea as well as Dorival Caymmi. Among all his songs this one is certainly one of the greatest classics and has been recorded in other languages by interpreters from all over the world. The vastness of the sea of his native Bahia was Caymmi’s greatest inspiration for this song.

 

3) Carmen Miranda – “Tico-Tico No Fubá” (1947)

Although first presented in 1917, it reached the peak of popularity in the 40s. One of its most successful versions is the one by Ademilde Fonseca in 1942. This is one of the songs that contributed to the internationalization of Brazilian music, mostly since it featured in several American films, such as Copacabana (1947), in which it was eternalized by the iconic fruit-basket head-dressed Carmen Miranda.

 

4) Luiz Gonzaga – “Asa Branca” (1947)

Written by Luiz Gonzaga and Humberto Teixeira, asa branca (“white wing”) refers to a bird of the parched sertão (the semi-arid region in Northeastern Brazil ). The picazuro pigeon symbolizes peace, longing and exile. But the evocative lyrics of the song speak of the difficult conditions of sertanejo’s life. The bird flaps wings to find a better life and the protagonist of the song does the same. But he promises to his love that someday he will return, when the rain falls again. There are more than 300 versions of this song, but no interpretation beats the one by Gonzaga.

 

5) Waldir Azevedo – “Brasileirinho” (1947)

Waldir Azevedo is one of the most famous cavaquinho players of Brazil. This song, representative of the choro genre, would become a reference for all the instrumentalists of Brazil and was a huge success from the moment it was released.

 

6) Noel Rosa – “Conversa de Botequim ” (1950)

Launched in 1935, this samba perpetuates one of the lightest and most relaxed lyrics of that time. It was written, however, in a tense time – marked by the 1930 Revolution in Brazil and by the crack of the New York Stock Exchange. The most acclaimed versions are by Aracy de Almeida, Chico Buarque and by Noel himself, one of its authors.

 

7) João Gilberto – “Chega de Saudade ” (1958)

This song is often considered to be the first recorded bossa nova song. The music was composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim and the lyrics were written by Vinícius de MoraesJoão Gilberto‘s version is the most famous, although the original one was recorded one year later.

The title can be translated roughly as “enough longing,” though the Portuguese word saudade carries a far more complex meaning. The word implies an intensity of heartfelt connection that is yearned for passionately. Chega means no moreenough.

 

8) João Gilberto – “Desafinado” (1958)

There are countless recordings of this classic bossa nova song, but this one arguably surpasses all the others. Composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim, it was released in João Gilberto‘s seminal album Chega de Saudade. Its strange melody, its deliberate debauchery and the incomparable guitar sound had never been heard before. Although  Brazil had already exported some songs before this one, nothing compared to the impact that “Desafinado” had when it was recorded in 1962 by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd for the album Jazz Samba. It was the music that definitively put bossa nova in the international scene and took Brazilian music to an era of modernity.

“Desafinado” means “out of tune” and was a response to critics who claimed that bossa nova was a new genre for singers who can’t sing.

 

9) Dolores Duran – “A Noite do Meu Bem” (1959)

This samba-canção is the most famous song of carioca Dolores Duran and the one that best defines her particular style. A successful singer in a country that, at that time, had no tradition of women composers, Dolores gained more popularity after her death at age 29, one month after releasing this song.

 

10) Luiz Bonfá – “Manhã De Carnaval ” (1959)

The most notorious composition of carioca violinist Luis Bonfá was used in the soundtrack of the film Orfeu do Carnaval (Black Orpheus) directed by Marcel Camus. The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1960,  after which this beautiful song conquered the entire world.

 

Coming soon:

  • The 1960s
  • The 1970s
  • The 1980s 
  • The 1990s
  • The 2000s – 2010s

 

100 ESSENTIAL BRAZILIAN SONGS YOU MUST HEAR Part 1: Overview


Music is one of the most powerful cultural expressions of a nation, a sort of thermometer which reflects the history and mood of the people at a certain time, whether they feel happy, troubled, or oppressed.

And this is certainly true for Brazil: throughout the years music has been drawing the face of the country, mirroring Brazilians’ joy, uncertainties and longings…

Whoever has been in Brazil has most likely realized that music is deeply rooted into Brazilians’ DNA. Music is everywhere, accompanying every single mundane activity: Brazilians have fun with music, travel with music, prepare feijoada with music. And they dance… When I first visited Brazil I was amazed to see that just by hearing samba in the street, everybody -kids and grown-ups alike- would start dancing, as something natural, without inhibitions of any kind…

I love Brazil, its beautiful nature, its people, culture and music… Thus, I decided to pay a tribute to Brazil’s music by choosing 100 among the most representative songs of all times… I believe that after listening to all these songs you will realize -like I did- how timeless Brazil’s music is…

This introductory post will help you understand Brazilian music history and styles. More posts will follow presenting 100 iconic Brazilian songs in chronological order.

I hope you enjoy it!

Música do Brasil – Overview

Brazilian music originated from the fusion of indigenous, European and African elements, the latter brought mainly by Portuguese colonizers and the African slaves.

Until the 19th century, Portugal (and Europe for that matter) is the main gateway to most rhythms that would built Brazilian music, both erudite and popular. With the passage of time, African melodic and rhythmic elements begin to exert increasing influence on popular music, which would thus acquire the characteristic Brazilian sound that consolidates in the twentieth century, mainly through the diffusion of the genres lundu, frevo, choro and samba (see below). The indigenous practically left no trace in mainstream music, except in some regional folkloric genres.

In the twentieth century there is an extraordinary flowering of Brazil’s music. It is the period when national music gains autonomy and identity, although it never ceases – rather increases – the blend with new foreign rhythms. The fundamental work of Heitor Villa Lobos is the first great landmark of erudite Brazilian music, later developed by many other composers. During the same period, popular music gains the respect of elites and consolidates genres that would become trademarks of Brazil, such as samba and bossa nova. Regional folk genres such as musica sertaneja, baião and forró also gain popularity and are heard throughout the entire country.

Brazilian music styles


We all know samba and bossa nova, but Brazilian music is extremely rich and diverse. This is a brief summary of Brazil’s most important music genres:

The First Music Styles

These were some of the first styles that appeared in Brazil:

  • Lundu: brought by African slaves, it is one of the genres that would later compose samba.
  • Frevo: included on UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage, it is the traditional music of Pernambuco’s Carnival. Its trademark is the colorful umbrellas, which would “hide” the forbidden at that time capoeira (Afro-Brazilian martial art and dancing).
  • Choro: (means “cry”) a music gender originated in Rio de Janeiro. It is considered the first characteristic rhythm of Brazilian popular music, and is still very popular nowadays. In spite of its name, it usually has a fast, happy rhythm. Representative artists: Waldir Acevedo, Dominguinhos, Joaquim Callado, Pixinguinha and Luis Gonzaga (the later represents a regional form of choro called baiāo).
  • Maxixe: it is a mix of lundu with Argentinian tango, Cuban habanera and polca. It was considered so scandalous that caught international attention and travelled to Europe, together with tango. Maxixe contributed, together with lundu, to the origins of samba.

Contemporary Brazilian Music

These musical styles are Brazil’s trademark and are all listened nowadays.

Sertanejo

A music style that originated in Brazil’s countryside in the 1920s. It is the most popular music genre in Brazil, particularly throughout the southern/ southeastern and center/ western countryside. Sertanejo has seen a revival in the 90’s, regularly topping Brazilian music charts and earning a specific category at the Latin Grammy Awards. Representative artists: Sergio Reis, Chitãozinho & Xororó and Michel Teló.

Forró

When in 1945 the northeast musician Luiz Gonzaga recorded Dança Mariquinha, the genre  forró was launched – a rhythm and type of dance typical of the Northeast of Brazil. Given the vagueness of the term, there is no consensus on the definition of forró as a musical style, the name being usually used as a generalization of various musical rhythms of Northeast region.  Famous artists include Luiz Gonzaga, Wesley Safadão, and Solange Almeida.

Samba 

The year 1916 is considered the official birth of samba, a mix of maxixe with Bahia folklore rhythms. Samba rapidly spread throughout Brazil dominating not only its iconic carnival, but also the whole world. Samba is the most famous Brazilian musical style, and has many other sub genres:

  • Samba-canção: Appears in the 1920s, with slow rhythms and sentimental lyrics. Example: Ai Ioiô by Luís Peixoto.
  • Carnival Samba: composed by samba marches – known as marchinhas – and made to be danced and sung in carnival events. Examples: Abre alas, Cabeleira do Zezé, among others.
  • Samba-exaltação: With patriotic lyrics highlighting the wonders of Brazil, with orchestral accompaniment. Example: Aquarela do Brasil (see here).
  • Samba de breque: (literally brake samba) This style has moments of quick stops, where the singer includes comments, usually with critical or humorous tone. One of the masters of this style is Moreira da Silva.
  • Samba de gafieira: It was created in 1940 and has orchestral accompaniment. Fast and strong in the instrumental part, it is widely used in ballroom dancing. K-Ximbinho is a famous artist of this genre.
  • Sambalanço: Emerging in the 50s in nightclubs in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, it received a strong influence from jazz. One of the most significant representatives of Sambalanço is Jorge Ben Jor, which mixes elements of other genres too. This style would set the grounds for bossa nova.
  • Pagode: Born in Rio de Janeiro in the 70s, it has a repetitive rhythm and uses percussion instruments and electronic sounds. It spread rapidly throughout Brazil and conquered radios and dance floors in the next decade thanks to its simple and romantic lyrics. Representative artists are Fundo de Quintal, Negritude Jr., Só para contrariar, Raça Negra and Zeca Pagodinho.

Bossa Nova

Bossa nova is a Brazilian popular music movement of the late 50s initiated by João Gilberto, Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes and other young singers and/or songwriters from Rio de Janeiro. The style was derived from samba, with a strong jazz influence. Initially, the term bossa nova (“new wave”) was used only to describe a new way of singing and playing samba.

The ground zero of bossa nova is the song Chega de Saudade (see here). Bossa nova gave a more sophisticated touch to the samba genre; over the years, it would become one of the most influential movements in the history of Brazilian music, and the song Girl from Ipanema would be its anthem.

This style went through many transformations that resulted in a new generation of composers; new artists appeared in the music scenario who were collectively named Sons of bossa nova. Artists such as Geraldo Vandré and Chico Buarque are among the Sons of bossa nova, although their style has little or nothing to do with bossa nova (see MPB).

Tropicália

Originated by the end of the 60s after bossa nova, Tropicália was the next musical movement and came at a time when Brazil was undergoing political upheaval due to a strict military dictatorship. The rebellious lyrics of Tropicalia songs bothered the government, who decided to exile the most influential Tropicália artists, such as Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil.

Música Popular Brasileira (MPB)

Appreciated mainly by Brazil’s urban middle classes, Brazilian popular music – known as MPB – emerged in the 1960s with the Sons of Bossa Nova. MPB was the merge of two previously divergent musical movements: bossa nova (representing musical sophistication) and folk music (which defended Brazil’s music roots). As a result of the 1964 dictatorship, the two movements became a broad cultural front against the military regime; this new genre presented at first a distinct nationalistic profile, but with time it comprised more diverse trends of Brazilian music.

MPB also includes other mixtures of rhythms such as samba and rock – giving rise to a new style known as samba-rock – or pop and samba, with famous artists like Gilberto Gil and Chico Buarque. By the end of the 1990s the mixture of Latin music together with reggae and samba gave space to a new genre known as samba-reggae.

Even though extensive, MPB should not be confused as comprising all music of Brazil; it is rather a specific music style.

Funk Carioca

Originated in the 80s in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, the lyrics ususally describe favela life. In the 2000’s this genre would invade nightclubs, becoming a fashionable style across the country.

Although extremely successful, this genre is the target of strong criticism as performers use obscene and vulgar language, many times inciting to violence and drug consumption. See here for some of the most known funk artists.

Axé Music

Axé emerged in Bahia in the 80s during the Carnival of Salvador. It mixes frevo rhythms, reggae, merengue, forró, maracatu and other african-latino rhythms. The song Fricote by Luiz Caldas, is usually regarded as the starting point of this style.

The word “axé” is a religious greeting which means positive energy, used in Candomblé and Umbanda – religions with African origins which are commonly practiced in Bahia. It quickly spread throughout the country and still enjoyes great commercial success; its biggest names are Daniela Mercury, Ivete Sangalo, Claudia Leitte, Timbalada, among others.

 

References

https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Música_do_Brasil (in Portuguese)

https://web.archive.org/web/20091101115615/http://www.brazilcarnival.com.br/samba_schools/begining-of-samba-brazil-music-origins-of

http://thebrazilbusiness.com/article/brazilian-music-styles

https://theculturetrip.com/south-america/brazil/articles/10-traditional-brazilian-music-genres-you-need-to-know-about/

http://www.greatbrazilianlmusic.com/genres.htm

See also:

Coming soon:

  • The 1960s
  • The 1970s
  • The 1980s 
  • The 1990s
  • The 2000’s
  • 2010-2016

6 DAYS IN CAMPANIA, SOUTH ITALY – Days 1-3: Sorrento, Amalfi Coast

Naples, Pompeii, The Amalfi Coast, Campania has it all: breathtaking beauty, rich history, a strong character and delicious food! With its southern warmth – both humanly and climatically speaking – Campania is certainly a must-see when visiting Italy.

When to go: Arguably spring is a great to time to see Campania: blissful sunny days, colorful wild flowers, the smell of  lemon blossoms in the air… As idyllic as you picure it! Furthermore, you will avoid the crowds and the heat of the summer time. In any case, Campania is a very touristic destination, so even during spring expect to meet a lot of people visiting the area.

Where to stay: I believe Sorrento is the best spot for exploring the region’s highlights: Naples, Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii to the north, the magnificent Amalfi Coast southeast, and a few minutes aways from the iconic island of Capri.

Campania’s food: Needless to say, pizza is on its own enough reason to visit Campania. No matter how many times you have eaten pizza before, it is certain that here you will have the most delicious pizza of your lifetime! The secret: undoubtedly the simplicity of the flavors and the genuine ingredients…

Of course Campania’s cuisine is much more than just pizza. The typical cucina di Campagna is renowned across the globe for its seafood and fish specialities, but it also includes traditional mountain dishes. This sun-kissed region also has the undisputed merit of having contributed to the birth and spread of the celebrated Mediterranean diet, with the use of essential products like tomatoes, olive oil, vegetables and of course pasta!

But most likely the worldwide recognition of Campania’s regional cuisine is the result of the cleverness and artistry of the people of this area, who masterfully have made noble, even gourmet, the local ingredients once considered “food for the poor”.

In this post I propose you a guide to explore the region of Campania on a 6-day stay, so you can get to see the most of this magnificent area…

Day 1: SORRENTO

Located over straddling imposing cliffs overlooking the impressive Naples Bay, Sorrento is a great starting point to explore the area. A busy touristic destination during the summer, with a more pleasant and relaxed atmosphere during spring time.

Wander along the narrow streets of the charming old town, visit its beautiful Cathedral and lively Piazza Tasso and grab a bite at one of the numerous cafés. Finally, to get a different view of Sorrento, walk down to visit Marina Grande and Marina Piccola. And to finish your day at the seaside, eat some authentic wood-fired pizza at the ristorante Acqu’et sale.

Day 2: AMALFI COAST – POSITANO

 

Deservedly declared by UNESCO “World Heritage Site”, la Costiera Amalfitana is without any doubt one of the most beautiful places of Italy and one of the most breathtaking scenic drives of Europe. Nestled between the mountain and the sea cliffs, following the natural course of the coastline, every turn of the road surprises you with a spectacular shot.

There are 13 towns spreading across the Amalfi Coast, all with their unique beauty and charm. Visit them all if you have the time! But the undisputed “star” of the Coast is definitely picture-perfect Positano, a former fishing village that has become a first-class tourist destination.

You don’t get enough when walking along the picturesque roads. Therefore, Positano certainly deserves a whole day to discover.

Visit the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, admire the numerous art galleries, and if the weather allows it, get suntanned at the picturesque Spiaggia Grande… And after a day of strolling -and most likely shopping- head to Ristorante Da Constantino for the most amazing panoramic view of the village, while you indulge yourself with some delicious scialatielli ai frutti di mare (pasta with shellfish), or any other of the many typical Campanian dishes the friendly staff of the restaurant will propose you.

Day 3: AMALFI COAST – AMALFI, RAVELLO

 

Amalfi, the town that gives its name to the coast, is another must-see in the Amalfi Coast. The beautiful Duomo di Sant’Andrea Apostolo (Cathedral of St. Andrew) with its impressive staircase, and the cute white houses clinging to the rock give a particular charm to this beautiful village. Besides the numerous cafés and ristorante, a stop at Pasticceria Savoia for a genuine italian gelatto is a must!After your visit to Amalfi, make a stop at picturesque Atrani and drive up -or even better, hike up!- the hills above Amalfi to reach elegant Ravello, a beautiful town known for its charming medieval streets, ravishing garden villas and majestic views. Ravello’s Italian refinement has managed, for centuries, to captivate famous musicians, actors and writers; so it comes to no surprise that it’s home not only to the renowned Ravello Festival, but also to a vibrant cultural scene.

Stroll along the narrow streets, visit Villa Rufolo, Villa Cimbrone and the Duomo, and to finish your visit with a touch of style, head to Ristorante Villa Maria for fine dining and a stunning view. Many of the delicious dishes you will savour at the restaurant -part of the eponymous boutique hotel– are made using biological products coming from the terraced gardens you can admire while you eat. And as a bonus, be sure to check the photos of the many celebrities that have stayed and dined here…

Coming up next: 6 days in Campania, South Italy – Days 4-6: Pompeii & Herculaneum, Mount Vesuvius & Napoli, Island of Capri

 

 Photo Credits

All the photos belong to woman2womenblog.com

10 GREAT BIOPIC FILMS ABOUT INSPIRING WOMEN

The International Women’s Day is over, but every day is a good opportunity to celebrate being a woman! And what could be better than watching a few inspiring movies?
For this post I chose 10 true story films about extraordinary women who were able to make a difference… They are all a source of inspiration and remind us that, for a woman, nothing is impossible!

1) HIDDEN FIGURES, 2016


Being a woman has never been easy. Imagine being a colored woman working at NASA in 1961! Hidden Figures tells the story of three bold African-American women, Katherine JohnsonDorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, outstanding mathematicians who surpassed race, gender and professional barriers and helped, with their bright minds, to achieve what has never been accomplished before by the human race, during the early years of USA’s space program.

This is powerful, awe-inspiring tribute to three “human computers”, as they were called at that time, played beautifully by Taraji P. Henson,  Octavia Spencer and  Janelle Monáe.

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2) WOMAN IN GOLD, 2015


This film tells the story of Maria Altmann, a courageous Jewish woman living in the USA, who had the strength to do what seemed impossible: she took to court the government of Austria, reclaiming a painting that had been stolen from her family by the Nazis. But this was not “any” painting: it was Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, considered at the time “the Mona Lisa of Austria”.

I loved Woman in Gold, it’s entertaining without never losing its emotional weight. Helen Mirren delivers an  exceptional performance as Maria Altmann, Ryan Reynolds is also great as her young lawyer, Randy Schoenberg.

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3) JACKIE, 2016

Remembered for her impeccable style and elegance, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is arguably one of America’s most popular First Ladies. But it would be unfair to think of her just as a fashion icon: Jackie’s contribution to the arts and preservation of historic architecture, her presence during John F. Kennedy’s political life -and death- were instrumental in creating a myth that persists nowadays.

Pablo Larrain’s film focuses on the days right after JFK’s assassination and presents a careful psychological portrait of Jackie, following her while she grieves, comforts her children and organizes her husband’s grandiose funeral. Natalie Portman is amazing in the role of Jackie Kennedy.

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4) ERIN BROCKOVICH, 2000

She was an unemployed, single mother who finally takes a job as a legal assistant. But when Erin Brockovich starts investigating the suspicious case of energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), accused of polluting a city’s water supply, she would involve her law firm in one of the biggest class action lawsuits in American history against a multi-billion dollar corporation.

Steven Soderbergh directed the film starring Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich; the film was critically acclaimed and received numerous awards.

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5) THE BLIND SIDE, 2009

The film is based on the true story of Leigh Anne Tuohy, a caring woman who takes in a homeless teenage African-American, Michael Oher. Leigh Anne not only treats him like another member of her family but, when he expresses his interest in football, she does everything in her power to help him succeed. And she makes it: Michael Oher becomes a renowned football player, who has been playing for several teams of the US National Football League.

The movie features Sandra Bullock, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Tuohy.

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6) THE IRON LADY, 2011


Margaret Thatcher was the first woman to become Prime Minister of Great Britain. Dubbed The Iron Lady due to her uncompromising politics and strong character, she managed to become the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century. In spite of being a highly controversial personality, she has been retrospectively described as one of the greatest politicians in British history.

The film, although interesting, did not impress the critics; nevertheless, Meryl Streep performance as Margaret Thatcher is outstanding, maybe one of her career’s finest.

IMDB link

7) GORILLAS IN THE MIST, 1988

This movie is based on the story of Dian Fossey a naturalist who devoted her life to the study of primates. Travelling into deepest Africa, she becomes fascinated with rare mountain gorillas of the Rwandan jungle, and through close study, she developed a means of communicating with them. Moreover, she fought fiercely against poaching, helped preserve the gorilla’s natural habitat and was instrumental in saving them from extinction.

Gorillas in the mist was critically acclaimed, as well as Sigourney Weaver’s impersonation of Dian Fossey.

IMDB link

8) LA VIE EN ROSE (LA MÔME), 2007

Édith Piaf is widely regarded not only as France’s national chanteuse, but also as one of the greatest performers of the 20th century. Her timeless music and unique voice are, till today, continuously celebrated (read more here).

This autobiographical film (in French La môme -The little sparrow) depicts wonderfully her great success as well as her tormented personal life. Marion Cotillard is magnificent as Piaf, a role that granted her international fame.

IMDB link

9) EVITA, 1996

Arguably the most worshiped -and most hated- woman in Argentina’s history, Eva Duarte de Perón (affectionally named “Evita”) has certainly become a legend that transcended the country’s borders. Although rising from a low social environment, she marries Juan Domingo Perón and becomes the First Lady of Argentina until her death from cancer at 33 years old. Her huge political influence and constant charity works dazzled the working class but infuriated the military and upper classes. In spite of the controversy surrounding her, Evita was, undoubtedly, a fervent advocate of women’s rights: she campaigned for Argentine women’s right to vote and founded the first female political party.

This movie is a version of the successful musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim RiceEvita”; it features Madonna as Evita Perón and includes the iconic song “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.

IMDB link

10) COCO BEFORE CHANEL (COCO AVANT CHANEL), 2009

French couturière Coco Chanel is regarded as one of the most innovative fashion designers and one of the most influential people of the 20th century. Her ideas were revolutionary, as she liberated women from the corset dresses that fashion dictated at that time and made popular a more sporty, casual style. Her timeless creations remain popular still today: the trademark suits and little black dress, her beloved leather bags and the iconic parfum Chanel No. 5 transformed her in “a symbol of French elegance”.

This film focuses on Coco Chanel’s life before becoming famous as a fashion designer. The role of Chanel is played wonderfully by French actress Audrey Tautou.

IMDB link

 

What is your favorite film? Would you add any other to this list?

12 UNCONVENTIONAL CHRISTMAS FILMS YOU SHOULD WATCH THESE HOLIDAYS

Christmas is the perfect time to sit by the fireplace, contemplate the snow falling outside… and get an overdose of Christmas movies! If you are tired though of watching Home Alone or The Polar Express over and over again, check out this list with 12 more alternative movies to indulge yourself these holidays… and not only!

1) IN BRUGES, 2008

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christmas-films-in-bruges-posterTwo Irish hit-men (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) are sent by their boss (Ralph Fiennes) to the medieval Belgium city of Bruges in Christmas after a job gone wrong in a London church. While waiting for their next assignment, the most surreal events take place, and when the job is finally revealed, a life and death struggle ensues, which ends up having both melodramatic and hilarious consequences… This is a brillant, dark, existentialist, though-provoking film, actually a must-see no matter the time of the year.

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2) LE PÈRE NOËL EST UNE ORDURE (SANTA CLAUS IS A BASTARD), 1982

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If you like French comedy films (check my list here), you will love this one. Pierre and Thérèse, working for a suicide hotline on the night of Christmas Eve, get involved in the most unbelievable and crazy situations one can imagine. Irreverent and hysterically funny, with the always politically incorrect French humor. An all-time classic in France, a not-to-be-missed during the holidays.

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3) THE FAMILY MAN, 2000

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christmas-films-the-family-man-posterWall Street successful executive Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage), happily living his single life, wakes up on Christmas morning, and finds himself being married to his ex-girlfriend and having 2 children! Over the next few weeks, he gets a glimpse of what his life would have been like if he’d married her. This is a sweet, heart-warming movie that shows how the decisions we take can change us completely, and make us reflect on what are our priorities in life…

IMDB link

4) LIFE OF BRIAN, 1979

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christmas-films-life-of-brian-posterThe origin of Christmas, told by the incomparable Monty Python. Brian of Nazareth is born in a stable on Christmas, right next to Jesus. We follow their parallel lives, and how, through the most incredible situations, Brian is mistakenly taken as the Messiah. The famous scene “Always look on the bright side of life” has remained as a cinematic all-time classic. Satirical, fast-paced, clever and funny, one of those films every cinephile should see at least once… 

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5) KISS KISS BANG BANG, 2005

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Snowless Christmas in Los Angeles is the background for this witty and dark comedy, where a thief (Robert Downey Jr) turned-actor-turned-detective teams up with a private detective (Val Kilmer) and a struggling actress (Michelle Monaghan) to solve a murder. The great acting, combined with Shane Black’s sharp writing and direction make this film a great choice for some Christmas fun.

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6) RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE, 2010

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You better watch out… Santa Claus is coming to town! On Christmas Eve in Finland, one of the greatest discoveries of mankind takes place: Santa Claus is unearthed in an archaeological dig. Only that Santa is not the good guy we have in mind… Horror, fantasy, adventure and a hint of Finnish black humor.

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7) LE TOUT NOUVEAU TESTAMENT (THE BRAND NEW TESTAMENT), 2015

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christmas-films-the_brand_new_testament_posterTechnically speaking not a Christmas film, but it has something about it… It turns out that God exists, and lives Belgium! The problem is that he is bored and vicious, and his only pleasure is to ruin people’s lives. But his only daughter Ea decides to take the situation in her hands to save the world from her insane dad. Original script, great acting, this film was critically acclaimed and received many awards.

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8) SERENDIPITY, 2001

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christmas-films-serendipity-poster“Fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”: this is what Serendipity means and what the movie is about…  Jonathan meets Sara by chance at Christmas in New York, and since they feel a mutual attraction, they go together to the restaurant Serendipity 3. In there, Sara reveals her opinion that fate determines most decisions in life. Thus, she writes her telephone in a book that will be sold the following day, and Jonathan on a five dollars bill, stating that, if destiny wants them together, they will meet each other again. This is a light-hearted, delightful romantic comedy that makes you think about fate, soul mates and true love…

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9) BRAZIL, 1985

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christmas-films-brazil-posterAnother cinephile gem directed by one of the Monty Python troupe members, Terry Gilliam. In this dystopian science fiction film, a civil servant working in an Orwellian, bureaucratic state, tries to find a woman who appears in his dreams. But while trying to correct an administrative error, he becomes an enemy of the state; things get even more complicated when he seems to find someone who looks like his dream woman…The movie is visually stunning, extremely clever, mind-bending and thoroughly enjoyable.

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10) EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, 1990

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Unconventional love Edward scissorhands poster
If we think “unconventional filming”, director Tim Burton comes right away to our minds. The story of Edward  Scissorhands, a man who has scissors instead of hands, is one of the most beautiful and meaningful cinematic Christmas tales. Read more on this movie here.

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11) ANNIE HALL, 1977

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If you like Woody Allen, Christmas will be the excuse to watch (again) this fantastic film, which is for most fans -including myself- one of Woody Allen’s best movies, often listed among the greatest film comedies of all time. In this film, neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with ditzy, aspiring nightclub singer Annie Hall. Gender stereotypes, psychoanalysis and the Jewish identity are careful dissected with Allen’s unique, hilarious but at times dramatic style.

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12) LAST HOLIDAY, 2006

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christmas-films-last-holiday-posterGeorgia, a shy store assistant, is told that she has a terminal disease and only a few weeks to live. She decides to spend her last funds and sets off on a dream vacation at the deluxe Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic). Having nothing to lose, she lives her life to the full, which has unexpected consequences for her and the people she meets… Feel-good and enjoyable, the film delivers a simple but effective message: let’s enjoy our lives, as we don’t know what is just around the corner… Lovely Queen Latifah and always great Gerard Depardieu add their own charm to this romantic comedy.

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I hope you enjoy this list!

I wish you all Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 🙂

100 ESSENTIAL FRENCH SONGS YOU MUST HEAR Part 7: 2010-2016

 

best-french-songs-2010s-mod-2See also:

This fascinating trip through French music is over! We arrived to the present time!

It’s amazing to see how French music has changed throughout the years! Having the whole picture in front of my eyes while preparing this series of posts, it really got me thinking on how France’s music scene evolution is, unfortunately, a sign of the times.

From the 1930s till the 60s, France was the absolute trend-setter. French songs were heard worldwide, many times translated into other languages, including English. During the 70s, Anglo-saxons’s influence on France’s music style becomes slowly evident. We start witnessing the decay of la République Française as a music model; nevertheless, many great songs of this period have remained as all-time classics.

From the 80s, globalization becomes omnipresent, and music is not an exception: more and more English music is being heard in France; the 90s widespread availability of the Internet certainly magnifies this phenomenon. In order to preserve the French language and protect it against the “Anglo-Saxon cultural invasion”, the French government takes a decision: the controversial Toubon law is issued. Effective 1/1/1996, this law forces radio stations to broadcast at least 40% of songs in French. But there is a problem: French radio stations believe that, after 20 years of being applied, this 40% quota has become unsustainable. They denounce a lack of quality of contemporary French music, as well the reduction in the number of artists performing in French. As they point out: “Only 242 francophone albums were released in 2014, against 718 in 2003, representing a 66,3% drop in the production of French music in a little over ten years”.

Why this alarming drop-off in Francophone music? Are French artists lacking creativity? The answer is: not at all! They are performing in English!! With the boom in electro pop and house music, a trademark of the 2010s, mainstream artists such as David Guetta, Daft Punk, Bob Sinclar, as well  as other remarkable, less-known bands such as The Avener,  Synapson, Christine and the Queens, are now singing in English in order to attract a more international audience.

The future of French music doesn’t look bright: recently, as a result of the pressure exerted by the radio stations, the 40% French music quota was reduced to 35%. This is sad! French music should not disappear! This would be a huge loss, not only for France, but for the whole world…

But there is some hope: outstanding Francophone artists, either because of their commercial success, or due to the quality of their work, still insist on being “a cultural exception”. So, let’s all support French music!! Check out this list, go ahead and Frenchify your playlist!

91) Zaz – “Je veux” (2010)

With her gypsy jazzy style and her sultry voice,  Zaz  managed to have not only France, but all Europe singing the addictive “Je veux”. The album went diamond-certified in France, while the song “Je veux” stayed at the top of most European charts for several weeks. After this massive hit, she became the most listened French singer abroad and, according to an Internet survey in France, the favorite French musician in 2010. Read more about Zaz here.

 

 92) Mika – “Elle me dit” (2011)

Yes, it’s the same Mika of “Relax, take it easy“. Actually, Mika is British-Lebanese, but he has also lived in France. This song (English: “She tells me”) is, according to himself:  “about all the horrific things a mother can say to her son to get him to f..k out of her house”. The video features a well-known ensemble of French actors, including the great Fanny Ardant. It was the most commercially successful francophone hit of 2011 in France.

 

 93) Camille – Le banquet” (2011)

She may not be for everybody’s taste, but no one can deny she’s got a great talent -and an amazing voice. Quirky and original (though at times she may remind us of Bjork), Camille’s all four studio albums are definitely worth listening to. Almost unanimously acclaimed by the critics,  her single “Ta douleur” has been also a commercial success. She has collaborated with the band Nouvelle Vague, and composed songs for the soundrack of the films Ratatouille and Le petit princeThis song belongs to her last album Ilo veyou (anagram for “I love you”).

 

94) Maître Gims – “J’me tire” (2013)

Worshiped by some, snubbed by others, there is no doubt though that Maître Gims is a big thing in France. Already well-known as the leader of the notorious rap group Sexion d’Assault, in 2013 he went solo with the album “Subliminal”. Although the album got mixed reviews from critics, it was a huge commercial success, becoming double-diamond certified. In this song (English: “I withdraw myself”) he describes how he feels sick of fame sometimes, and that he would like to leave and go some place where people won’t judge him.

 

95) Stromae – “Papaoutai” (2013)

By 2010, when his first album was released, Belgian musician Stromae spread the word: “Life sucks, so let’s dance”. And he got all Europe on its feet, dancing his major hit Alors on dance. But with his 2013 album Racine Carrée, he clearly demonstrated what an accomplished artist he is. Besides the easy-listening, catchy melodies, all his songs deliver a strong social message, whether they talk about AIDS, cancer, relationships, or sexual clichés…The song Papaoutai (“Papa où t’ai/Papa where are you”) talks about absent fathers. It’s really worth watching the amazing music video, where a boy uses a mannequin to replace his absent father. Learn more about Stromae here.

 

96) Indila – “Dernière danse” (2014)

This song (English: “Last dance”) is the first single from Indila’s debut album, Mini World.  The beautiful music video is a short film that takes place in Paris, and describes the story of a young immigrant who is a victim of racism. Mini World would become diamond-certified in France; although the single Dernière danse never made it to the top of the chart (it reached the second place), it became a huge success in many other countries, such as Greece, Israel, Turkey, remaining several weeks at the top of the charts.

 

97) Louane – “Jour 1” (2015)

Louane Emera, or just Louane, was already well-known since 2013 for her participation in the talent show The Voice. However, she becomes a national star in 2014 with her role in the film La famille Bélier, for which she won a César Award for the Most Promising Actress. This song belongs to her first album, Room 12, which became the biggest selling album of the year 2015 in France (two-times diamond-certified).

 

98) Julien Doré – “Le lac” (2016)

Another star arising from a talent show, Julien Doré was the winner of Nouvelle Star in 2007. Since then, he has had a very successful career; his three previous studio albums have all reached the top four on the official French Albums Chart. Just now (October 2016) he released his fourth album, “&”, from which the single “Le lac” (The lake) became instantly the most downloaded single in the charts.

 

99) Céline Dion – “Encore un soir” (2016)

There is actually not much need for introduction: Céline Dion is, without any doubt, a true star. Although already known from the early 80s in her homeland Canada, further recognition came when Dion represented Switzerland in the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest, winning with the song “Ne partez pas sans moi. Singing with great success both in French and English, by the mid-1990s she became one of the best-selling artists in the world, particularly after the super massive hit “My heart will go on”. After a 4-year break, she’s back! And with a great French album: “Encore un soir”(One More Night) has garnered positive reviews from music critics and topped the charts in France (where it went 4 times platinum), Quebec, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium.

 

100) Christophe Maé – “Il est où le bonheur” (2016)

Christophe Maé is considered a real phenomenon:  since the release of his first album in 2007, all his albums have topped the French charts. And his fifth album, L’Attrape-rêves, which just came out is no exception! In the video of this song (the title means “Where is happiness?”) the 40 year-old singer travels through time, becoming younger or older thanks to very successful visual effects. With his unique voice, he reminds us that we should not run after happiness because it is right in front of us, although but we do not always see it.

 

Don’t miss:

YouTube playlist here