100 ESSENTIAL BRAZILIAN SONGS YOU MUST HEAR Part 7: The 2000-2010s

Contemporary music –in Brazil, France and elsewhere- has been greatly influenced by social media, video sharing and music streaming, all trademarks of the 2000s and beyond. Specifically for Brazilian music, this globalizing phenomena has had positive, as well as deleterious consequences: increased foreign songs topping the charts on one side, but also Brazilian mainstream music massively available to the rest of the world. The proof: songs like Mc Fioti’s “Bum Bum TamTam” with more than 1 billion! views on YouTube, and Michel Teló’s “Ai Se Eu Te Pego” with over 800 million views…

Despite globalization, Brazil internal music market has seen a meteoric increase in popularity of regional rhythms during this period, mainly sertanejo. Actually, sertanejo is Brazilian audiences‘ preferred music genre .

No one can deny that Brazil is a country with a powerful musical history. Going through all its music repertoire while preparing this series of articles, I can’t help but admire even more its distinct and perennial beauty. Are things changing though? Is Brazilian music going through a phase of decadence? This is an ongoing debate in the country nowadays… Many music critics are definite: today’s consumer society –they believe- leads to “consumable music”; moreover, they blame the universal predominance of sertanejo as responsible for the lack of musical diversification nowadays. “We always had good music and bad music in Brazil -says one critic- but there was a balance. At this time, at least 90% of what record companies release is totally disposable”. Some go even further and state that pagoda, sertanejo and electronic forró are “a tsunami of musical trash unprecedented in the history of Brazilian music”. Other critics are more optimistic. Véronique Mortaigne, writing an article in The Guardian, states that: “Brazil is surfing a musical new wave that is now reaching Europe”, making emphasis on the quality of certain musicians’ work “not afraid to mix the old and the new, irritating a few purists along the way”.

The debate could go on forever. What is certain is that there are still many bright examples of fine Brazilian music. Check out my list with some of the most remarkable songs of the 2000-2010s, go ahead and Brazilify” your playlist!

87) Bebel Gilberto – “Samba da Bênção” (2000) 

Bebel Gilberto is an extremely talented bossa nova singer, and it couldn’t be otherwise: she is the daughter of Joao Gilberto and Miucha, and the niece of Chico Buarque

She became worldwide known after the release of her amazing album Tanto Tempo.  This particular song was written by Vinicius de Moraes and Baden Powell; it was featured in the movie Eat, Pray, Love. Read more here.

 

88) Pato Fu – “Ando meio desligado” (2001) 

This psychedelic anthem was composed by the iconic band Os Mutantes in 1970; it was listed by Rolling Stone Brazil as the 50th greatest Brazilian song.

Of the many re-recordings the song has had, I like this one, by the Belo Horizonte band Pato Fu.

 

89) Gabriel o Pensador – “Até Quando?(2001) 

Known for his intellectual and controversial lyrics, rapper Gabriel o Pensador (“Gabriel the Thinker”) stepped into the limelight with his provocative composition “Tô Feliz (Matei o Presidente)” [I’m Happy (I killed the President)]. He has had a highly successful career since then, topping often the charts with his gold or platinum-certified albums.

Até Quando? (“Until when?”) was released in the album Seja Você Mesmo (mas não Seja sempre o Mesmo) (“Be Yourself (but not always the same”). Its compelling lyrics address the issue of conformism. It was highly praised by most critics and received an award at Brazil’s MTV Video Music Awards.

 

90) Cássia Eller & Nando Reis – “Relicário” (2001)

Cássia Eller is one of the most successful pop singers/composers in Brazil. Owner of a distinctive contralto voice, she was rated as the 18th greatest vocalist by Rolling Stone Brasil.

This beautiful song was composed by Nando Reis and was included in the live album Acústico MTV, where she sings it together with Reis; it is Cássia’s final album before her death on December 29, 2001 at 39 years old.

 

91) Tribalistas – “Velha Infancia ” (2002)

Tribalistas is a Brazilian musical supergroup consisting of Arnaldo Antunes (ex-Titãs), Marisa Monte and Carlinhos Brown (Timbalada). Their debut collaboration resulted in the popular album Tribalistas, which attained considerable popularity in Brazil and Europe. The curious thing with this popular group is that, despite their great success, they have rarely performed together, deciding to go on a world tour just now in 2018.

Among their most popular songs are “Já Sei Namorar” (included on the video game FIFA Football 2004), “Passe em Casa“, “É Você” and “Velha Infância“, played on the Brazilian soap opera Mulheres Apaixonadas.

 

92) Paulinho da Viola & Marisa Monte – “Carinhoso” (2003)

Alfredo da Rocha Vianna Jr. was not yet Pixinguinha when he began to be called a prodigy, enchanting with his unusual musicality and facility for instruments and improvisations. Considered till nowadays a musical genius,  Pixinguinha is regarded as  one of the greatest Brazilian composers of popular music, particularly within the genre choro. “Carinhoso“,  was recorded in 1928 and has remained as one of the most famous melodies of Brazilian popular music. Incredibly enough, he received heavy negative criticism at that time, with complaints that it was “too Americanized.”

From Marisa Monte to Elizeth Cardoso, from Paulinho da Viola to Francisco Alves, from Elis Regina to Marcelo Camelo, dozens of artists made their impassioned interpretations of “Carinhoso”; one of my favorites is this one, by Marisa Monte and Paulinho da Viola.

93) Zeca Pagodinho – “Deixa A Vida Me Levar” (2004)

Zeca Pagodinho is a singer and songwriter considered a great name of the genre samba and pagode. He has recorded more than 20 albums and has become immensely popular, not only due to his irreverence and jocosity, bur mostly due to his rare talent, praised by critics and consecrated artists.

This song gives name to his 2004 album Deixa A Vida Me Levar (“Let life take me”), it was extremely successful, becoming double-platinum certified.

 

94) Sergio Mendes feat. Stevie Wonder & Gracinha Leporace – “Berimbau / Consolação ” (2006)

The berimbau is a single-string percussion instrument. Originally from Africa, it was eventually incorporated into the practice of the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira. The instrument became worldwide known for being the subject matter of this song, which belongs to Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes.

Maybe one of the most famous versions of “Berimbau / Consolação ” is the one performed by Toquinho and Maria Creuza in 1970; nevertheless I love this version, featured in Sergio Mendes’ 2006 Album Timeless, with the participation of his wife, Gracinha Leporace and iconic American artist Stevie Wonder.

 

95) Vanessa Da Mata & Ben Harper – “Boa Sorte/Good Luck ” (2007)

Award-winning, chart-topping singer, composer, and novelist, Vanessa da Mata got her start writing songs for artists such as Maria Bethania and Daniela Mercury. Despite the strength of her voice, it took her several years until she finally decided to record her own material, releasing her self-titled debut in 2002. It was her next album, Essa Boneca Tem Manuel, however, that really pushed her into the limelight, aided by the strength of the single “Ai Ai Ai“. Three years later her third album, Sim, was released. Sim spawned the hit single “Boa Sorte/Good Luck“, a duet with Ben Harper, which peaked at number one in both Brazil and Portugal and was the most played song in Brazilian radio stations in 2008.

96) Criolo – “Subirusdoistiozin” (2011)

Criolo is a rapper and soul singer. With a career starting in 1989, he originally got a reputation as one of São Paulo most important rappers. After the release of his second album, “Nó na Orelha” (Knot in the ear), he saw his popularity grow beyond São Paulo to all Brazil and abroad, leading to a successful worldwide tour. He has been characterized as “ the most interesting and unruly representative of the Brazilian new wave”.

Nó na Orelha” mixes rap, afrobeat, hip hop, reggae, samba and brega. It received positive reviews and was considered the best national album of 2011 by the magazine Rolling Stone. From this album, “Subirusdoistiozin” (Two-Old-Guys-Died) is the most popular track; it describes the general waywardness of favela street culture.

 

97) Marisa Monte – “Ainda Bem” (2011)

Multi-awarded singer, composer, instrumentalist, and producer, Marisa Monte is considered one of Brazil’s greatest singers; in fact, Rolling Stone Brasil listed Monte as the second greatest singer of all time after Elis Regina. She also has two records (MM and Verde, Anil, Amarelo, Cor-de-Rosa e Carvão) among the 100 best albums of Brazilian music.

Ainda Bem (“Just as well”) belongs to her highly praised eighth record O Que Você Quer Saber de Verdade (“What do you really want to know”), was considered by Billboard Brasil the best album of 2011. Originally, “Ainda Bem” was composed by Marisa for Italian singer Mina, who included it in her 2011 album Piccolino.

 

98) Dominguinhos & Arthur Maia – “Lamento Sertanejo ” (2014)

An emblematic representative of the forro music genre, Dominguinhos has had success as a musician, both solo and as a sideman for consecrated artists like Luís Gonzaga, Caetano VelosoGilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Maria Bethânia. But also as a composer, he has produced hits recorded for some of the most important Brazilian artists; he has also written cinema soundtracks and has won four Prêmio Sharp Awards.

This is one of his biggest hits, composed in 1941. Initially instrumental, it was later re-recorded by Gilberto Gil, who wrote its lyrics. The song has received countless recordings and has been included in the soundtrack of several films and soap operas. The original version is beautiful; this version though, by Dominguinhos himself together with the great Brazilian bassist Arthur Maia, it’s just beguiling.

 

99) Adriana Calcanhotto – “Felicidade” (2015)

Adriana Calcanhotto is an MPB (Brazil popular music) singer and composer revealed in 1990, who has had great success in Brazil and helped bring MPB back to the hit parade after the 1980s’ Brazilian rock period.

Felicidade (“Happiness”) was written in 1947 by the great samba-canção composer Lupicínio Rodrigues; it was re-presented to Brazil by Caetano Veloso in 1974 who made it widely popular. Calcanhotto included it in her fourth live album Loucura (“Madness”), which is a tribute to Lupicínio Rodrigues.

 

100) Tiago Iorc & Milton Nascimento – “Mais Bonito Não Há” (2017)

Tiago Iorc is one of Brazil’s new talents. Singer-songwriter and record producer, with his debut album Let Yourself In, he gained notoriety after several of Tiago’s songs were featured on major Brazilian primetime soap operas, TV ads and films. Let Yourself In was also released in Japan with great success and in South Korea, where the public granted Tiago a Best Foreign Artist Award.

In 2017, he partnered with the incomparable Milton Nascimento (who declared being Tiago’s fan) and recorded some songs for the purpose of a national tour. This exquisite song (“Nothing more beautiful”) is the result of this partnership.

 

See also:

100 ESSENTIAL BRAZILIAN SONGS YOU MUST HEAR Part 6: The 1990s

If there is one word can define the 1990s, that is globalization. With Brazil’s growing openness to the globalized nineties’ culture, greatest influence of foreign musical trends was unavoidable. The youth of that period would increasingly enjoy dancing -in night clubs- to the new electronic rhythms, such as techno, trance and house.

On the other hand, Brazilians revalorized their own historical roots. The great originality and variety of the nation’s music is observed in the creative fusion of diverse influences such as samba, sertaneja, Brazilian rock, samba-reggae, baião, forró, lambada, axé, electronic music, among many others.

Globalization also made easy for Brazilian music to gain worldwide recognition. After pioneers like Carmen Miranda, many other names gave Brazilian popular music international publicity during that decade.

In the 90s, other styles like funk carioca and hip hop became popular among young people of the country’s Southeast, whereas the brega style “resisted” and was renewed, remaining popular especially in the North and Northeast regions.

These are the songs I chose from this period:

74) João Gilberto – “Eu Sambo Mesmo ” (1991) 

One of bossa nova’s fathers, João Gilberto is a consummated artist since the fifties, with enormous international recognition since then.

His 1991 album João, with orchestrations by Clare Fischer, featured songs in English, French, Italian, and Spanish, plus old sambas and his version of Caetano Veloso’s “Sampa”. This song (“I Really Samba”) is the opening track of this wonderful album.

 

75) Sergio Mendes – “Magalenha” (1992) 

Sergio Mendes doesn’t need much introduction. Superstar from the 60’s, with a prolific career and enormous international success, he is “indelibly identified with the pop side of the bossa nova boom”.

“Magalenha” was composed by musician Carlinhos Brown and is the second track of Sergio Mendes studio album Brasileiro. The energetic vocals by Carlinhos and the explosive rhythm of the Bahian percussionists are just electrifying … I dare you not to dance when you listen to it!

“Magalenha” appears in the soundtrack of the 1998 film Dance with Me .

 

76) Daniela Mercury – “O Canto da Cidade(1992) 

“The Queen of Axé” Daniela Mercury is well known for popularizing axé music, not only throughout Brazil, but also internationally. As a matter of fact, she enjoys a goddess-like worship in Salvador da Bahia.

Her second album, O Canto da Cidade (1993) was a national phenomenon, establishing her as the most popular Brazilian performer of the early ’90s. The title track of this album (“The tune of the city”), a celebration of her native Salvador, became a sensation and topped the charts. Not only was O Canto da Cidade the first Brazilian album to top a million in sales, but it remains her best-selling album to date, with millions of copies sold -and it continues to sell today.

 

77) Timbalada- “Beija Flor” (1993)

In the late 1980s the talented drummer Carlinhos Brown started to form percussion ensembles in his hometown Salvador; he simply gathered people in the streets and taught them basic percussion patterns. Eventually these gatherings grew into a band called Timbalada.  Timbalada is credited with the revival of the timbal (a kind of drum used in candomblé), which had been nearly extinct before they began featuring it. Moreover, the band melted the rhythms of Bahia with those of Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean origin, such as samba reggae and axé and added some pop elements; the result is an interesting, extremely prototype sound. The band’s aesthetics also has a distinctive character: the vocalists make heavy use of body painting, which provides a tribal touch and adds to their originality. Timbalada is also well known for its regular participation in Salvador de Bahia’s Carnival.

Due to their innovative music and particular aesthetics, it didn’t take long until the band caught the attention of Brazilians -and the entire world, gaining deserved, huge popularity. Their first album, released in 1993, has one of their major hits, Beija-flor (“Hummingbird”).

 

78) Ivan Lins – “Madalena” (1993)

Songwriter, vocalist, and pianist, Ivan Lins came to fame in Brazil in 1970 when Elis Regina recorded his song “Madalena” and made it a hit. He has been an active performer and songwriter of Brazilian popular music and jazz since then, with numerous of his compostions recorded by remarkable Brazilian and foreign and artists, such as George BensonMichael Bublé,  Ella FitzgeraldQuincy Jones, Sarah VaughanSting and Barbra Streisand.

He did release his own version of “Madalena” in his 1993 Minha História; in here though I include this marvellous, live version with Elis Regina, featured in the album Elis Regina e Ivan Lins – Juntos (Ao Vivo).

 

79) Chico Science & Nação Zumbi – “Da Lama Ao Caos” (1994)

From the mud flats of his natal Recife, Chico Science began to experiment with music, blending maracatu with reggae, funk, rap, and rock. The mixture of ancient folkloric Northeastern rhythms with world pop and electronic music would become referred as mangue beat (“mud beat”). Mangue beat eventually grew into a musical movement, one of the most characteristics of Brazil’s musical scene of the 90s.

After being recognized in his region, Chico Science joined Nação Zumbi; their first collaborative album, Da Lama Ao Caos, was released in 1994, from which the eponymous track was a major hit.

 

80) Mamonas Assassinas – “Pelados em Santos” (1995)

Characterized as a satirical rock band, Mamonas Assassinas‘s sound consisted of a mixture of pop rock with influences of popular genres such as sertanejo, brega, pagode, forró, and vira. The only studio album recorded by the band, Mamonas Assassinas, with the hits Pelados em Santos“, “Vira-Vira” and “Robocop Gay” had a meteoric success, rapidly becoming diamond-certified.

Unfortunately, their career was tragically interrupted in March 2, 1996, when the group was the victim of a plane crash which caused the death of all its members, and a great national commotion. In spite of their brief success, the band continues influencing the national musical scene and being celebrated even now, more than two decades after its end.

 

81) Carlinhos Brown – “A Namorada” (1996)

Not only a talented percussionist, Carlinhos Brown is also a greatly praised composer and vocalist. After his success with Timbalada (see above), he decided to display all his musical virtues in his solo album Alfagamabetizado. For the album’s release, Carlinhos Brown performed many shows throughout Brazil, The United Status, Japan and Europe. The track “A Namorada” was the biggest success, even being included on the soundtrack of the film Speed 2, where he also made a cameo appearance performing the song.

 

82) Skank- “Garota Nacional” (1996)

Belo Horizonte band Skank became one of the most popular bands in Brazil in the ’90s. Mixing influences of pop music, reggae, ska and rock & roll, Skank reached the market with their first eponymous album. Their 1996 album O Samba Poconé includes one of their greatest hits, Garota Nacional. Although “Garota Nacional” literally translates to “national girl”, the song is not about the women of Brazil, as usually believed: it refers to the “girls of Bar Nacional”, a bar and nightclub in Belo Horizonte famous in the early 1990s for its beautiful female patrons.

83) Simone and Martinho da Vila – “Ex-Amor” (1996)

One of the greatest Brazilian female artists of all time, Simone is a sensuous singer with a signature low, mellow voice. Although having a more activist repertory in her beginnings, she later abandoned it in favor of more mainstream, romantic songs, with which she has enjoyed international success.

In this song she unites her voice with that of another iconic MPB and samba singer/composer: Martinho da Vila.

 

84) Chitãozinho e Xororó – “Luar Do Sertão” (1996)

With a 30 year-career, 30 released albums and the impressive 30,000,000 sold copies, Chitãozinho e Xororó are a real phenomenon in Brazil. The two singers were the first artists to successfully promote the fusion of “redneck music” (caipira) with urban pop, opening the field for a millionaire craze which would become known as sertanejo romântico, a genre that ultimately took all regions of Brazil -and many other countries. Indeed, Chitãozinho e Xororó have performed with artists such as Billy Ray Cyrus, Reba McEntire and the Bee Gees.

This song, Luar do Sertão (Hinterlands Moonlight in English) is a popular, old Brazilian song, one of the most recorded Brazilian songs of all time. Its simple verses praise the life in sertão (English: hinterlands or countryside). It appears in their album Classicos Sertanejos and counts with the participation of Simone.

 

85) Quarteto Jobim Morelenbaum – “A Felicidade” (1999)

A felicidade (“Happiness”) was composed in 1958 by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes for the film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus). The theme of this mesmerizing bossa nova song is the fragility of happiness: “Tristeza não tem fim. Felicidade sim” (“Sadness has no ending. Happiness does”).

“A felicidade” has had many re-recordings throughout the years; I love this one by the Quarteto Jobim-Morelenbaum, which features Antonio Carlos Jobim’s son, guitarist/vocalist Paulo Jobim, and his grandson, pianist/vocalist Daniel Jobim, along with cellist Jacques Morelenbaum and his wife, vocalist Paula Morelenbaum. With the exception of Daniel, all of the group’s members were members of Jobim’s final band before his death in 1994.

 

86) Ney Matogrosso – “Poema” (1999)

Famous for his singular countertenor voice, but mostly for his provocative stage costumes, make-up and daring movements, Ney Matogrosso has always been regarded as a controversial character. What nobody can deny is that Ney is an extremely talented artist. In fact, he was ranked by Rolling Stone as the third greatest Brazilian singer of all time.

He is best known as a member of the glam rock group Secos & Molhados, a phenomenon band during the 1970s. After the band split up, Ney pursued a successful solo career in Brazil and abroad, obtaining several Gold and Platinum records.

This song (“Poem”) belongs was released in Olhos de Farol, an album that celebrated 25 years of Ney’s solo career.

 

Coming soon:

  • The 2000s – 2010s