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

 

100 ΕΜΒΛΗΜΑΤΙΚΑ ΓΑΛΛΙΚΑ ΤΡΑΓΟΥΔΙΑ ΠΟΥ ΠΡΕΠΕΙ ΝΑ ΑΚΟΥΣΕΙΣ – Μέρος 5: Η δεκαετία του ’90

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Η γαλλική μουσική σκηνή της δεκαετίας του ’90 βλέπει τους καθιερωμένους μουσικούς των ’70 και ’80 να κατέχουν ακόμη εξέχουσα θέση. Αλλά παράλληλα, ένα νέο μουσικό κίνημα αναπτύσσεται: η λεγόμενη “Nouvelle chanson”, μια επιστροφή δηλαδή στις μελωδίες και την ποίηση καλλιτεχνών όπως ο Brel, ο Brassens … Οι καλλιτέχνες αυτού του “νέου γαλλικού τραγουδιού” θα βρουν ένα ευρύ κοινό και θα φέρουν το chanson française ξανά στα καλύτερά του.

Η αναβίωση της γαλλικής μουσικής της δεκαετίας του ’90 βασίζεται επίσης στην εμφάνιση ενός νέου ροκ κινήματος. Νέα συγκροτήματα, με επιρροές γαλλικές και αγγλοσαξονικές, γεμίσουν τις αίθουσες συναυλιών και φτάνουν στην κορυφή των charts.

Και φυσικά η Γαλλία δεν μένει ανέγγιχτη από το παγκόσμιο φαινόμενο του hip-hop: το γαλλικό hip hop γίνεται σταδιακά mainstream. Το ίδιο γίνεται και με άλλες ξένες τάσεις όπως η ηλεκτρονική, η dance και η house μουσική.

Αυτά είναι μερικά από τα πιο αντιπροσωπευτικά τραγούδια της δεκαετίας του ’90:

69) Niagara – “Pendant Que Les Champs Brûlent” (1990)

Tο duo Niagara ήταν δημοφιλές στις δεκαετίες του ’80 και ’90, και πολλά του singles κατάφεραν να φτάσουν στα Top 50 των charts. Μάλιστα, τα τέσσερα στούντιο άλμπουμ που κυκλοφόρησαν έγιναν χρυσά. Αρχικά με new wave και synthpop στιλ, εξελίσσονται αργότερα σε πιο ροκ, με ένα στιλ που θυμίζει τους Eurythmics. Αυτό το όμορφο τραγούδι ανήκει στο τρίτο τους άλμπουμ, Religion.

 

 70) Mylène Farmer – “Désenchantée” (1991)

Η Μυλέν Φαρμέρ είναι αναμφισβήτητα η μεγαλύτερη σύγχρονη ποπ σταρ της Ευρώπης. Και όχι άδικα: είναι ο Γάλλος καλλιτέχνης που έχει πουλήσει τους περισσότερους δίσκους από το 1984, κατέχει ρεκόρ διαμαντένιων άλμπουμ, έγινε ο καλλιτέχνης με τα περισσότερα singles στα Top 50, μεταξύ άλλων εντυπωσιακών κατορθωμάτων.

Αμφιλεγόμενη, αινιγματική, η Farmer σπάνια εμφανίζεται δημοσίως και αρνείται κατηγορηματικά να μιλάει για την προσωπική της ζωή. Είναι γνωστή για τους βαθυστόχαστους στίχους των τραγουδιών της (συχνά με double entendre και λογοτεχνικές αναφορές) και για τις θεαματικές συναυλίες. Αυτό το τραγούδι (ο τίτλος σημαίνει “Απογοητευμένη”) είναι ένα από τα πιο εμβληματικά της. Αν και η ίδια δήλωσε πως μιλάει για τα συναισθήματά της εκείνη την εποχή, πολλοί πιστεύουν πως αναφέρεται στην πολιτική κατάσταση της Γαλλίας στη δεκαετία του ’90.

 

 71) William Sheller – “Un homme heureux” (1991)

Ο William Sheller ηχογράφησε “Ένας ευτυχισμένος άνθρωπος” live και το κυκλοφόρησε σε ένα single, το οποίο έγινε μεγάλη επιτυχία. Παρέμεινε στο Top 50 για 16 εβδομάδες και κέρδισε το βραβείο “Τραγούδι της Χρονιάς” στο Victoires de la Musique του 1992.

 

72) Mc Solaar – “Bouge de là” (1991)

Ο Mc Solaar είναι ένας από τους πιο δημοφιλείς Γάλλους καλλιτέχνες του χιπ χοπ. Οι σύνθετοι στίχοι των τραγουδιών του  βασίζονται στα λογοπαίγνια, στη λυρικότητα και στην ποιητική πνοή. Το τραγούδι αυτό (στα ελληνικά “Φύγε από εδώ”),  ήταν μία από τις πρώτες επιτυχίες του κίνημα hip hop στη Γαλλία. Άλλα διάσημα τραγούδια του Mc Solaar είναι Hasta la vista και La belle et le bad boy, το οποίο ακούστηκε στο τελευταίο επεισόδιο της αμερικάνικης σειράς Sex and the city.

 

73) IAM – “Je danse le Mia” (1993)

Το συγκρότημα ραπ IAM από τη Μασσαλία ερμηνεύει αυτό το τραγούδι, του οποίου οι στίχοι αναφέρονται, με ειρωνικό τρόπο, στην νυχτερινή ζωή της Μασσαλίας στην δεκαετία του ’80.  Έγινε μεγάλο hit στη Γαλλία, και είναι το πιο γνωστό τραγούδι της μπάντας. Χρησιμοποιεί ένα sample από το “Give me the night” του George Benson.

 

74) Les Négresses Vertes  – “Face à la mer” (Massive Attack Remix) (1993)

Les Négresses Vertes είναι ένα από τα πιο αντιπροσωπευτικά συγκροτήματα του Γαλλικού εναλλακτικού ροκ. Το στιλ τους όμως ήταν μοναδικό, επειδή κατάφεραν να αναμιγνύουν, με μοναδικό τρόπο, στοιχεία world και electronic music. Δυναμικοί και εξωτικοί, το έργο τους αναγνωρίστηκε ευρέως από τους κριτικούς και το κοινό. Και η αυτή η καταξίωση τους οδήγησε σε αρκετές διεθνείς συνεργασίες, όπως αυτό το τραγούδι τους, “ρεμιξαρισμένο” από τους Massive Attack.

 

75) Alain Souchon – “Foule sentimentale” (1993)

Ο πολυβραβευμένος Alain Souchon καταγγέλλει σε αυτό το ισχυρό τραγούδι (ο τίτλος σημαίνει “Συναισθηματικό πλήθος”) την ματαιότητα της καταναλωτικής μας κοινωνίας: “μας προκαλούν επιθυμίες που μας αγχώνουν” και “μας κάνουν να πιστέψουμε / ότι η ευτυχία είναι / τα ντουλάπια μας γεμάτα με υλικά αγαθά…”

Αυτό το τραγούδι είναι αναμφισβήτητα η μεγαλύτερη του επιτυχία, τι οποίο έλαβε το βραβείο “τραγούδι της χρονιάς” στο Victoires de la Musique του έτους 1994, καθώς και το βραβείο “Victoires des Victoires” για το καλύτερο πρωτότυπο τραγούδι των τελευταίων είκοσι χρόνων, το 2005.

 

76) Lara Fabian – “Je suis malade” (1994)

Αυτό το πανέμορφο και διαχρονικό τραγούδι (ο τίτλος σημαίνει “Είμαι άρρωστος”) το έγραψε ο Serge Lama, και το έκανε διάσημο η Δαλιδά, αλλά πιστεύω πως αυτή η βερσιόν της βελγο-καναδέζα Lara Fabian είναι απλά εκπληκτική.

 

77) Pascal Obispo – “Lucie” (1996)

Ο Pascal Obispo υπήρξε ένα από τα κεντρικά πρόσωπα της γαλλικής μουσικής από τις αρχές της δεκαετίας του ’90, ο οποίος έγινε γνωστός όχι μόνο για το ταλέντο του, αλλά και για το φιλανθρωπικό του έργο και την αντισυμβατική του προσωπικότητα. Αυτό το τραγούδι μιλάει για την παιδική ηλικία, το πέρασμα του χρόνου και τη ζωή.

 

78) Khaled – “Aïcha” (1996)

Αυτό το κομμάτι το έγραψε ο Jean-Jacques Goldman, αλλά το ερμηνεύει ο Αλγερινός καλλιτέχνης του raï Khaled. “Aïcha” είναι ένα αραβικό γυναικείο όνομα. Στο τραγούδι ένας άνδρας της προσφέρει διάφορα υλικά αγαθά, αλλά η Αΐσα “δεν θέλει τίποτα, μόνο αγάπη”. Ήταν μια τεράστια επιτυχία, και έγινε ένα από τα singles με τις περισσότερες πωλήσεις της δεκαετίας του ’90 στη Γαλλία.

 

79) Patrick Fiori, Daniel Lavoie & Garou – “Belle” (1997)

Το τραγούδι αυτό ανήκει στο μιούζικαλ Notre Dame de Paris. Ήταν μια τεράστια επιτυχία στη Γαλλία, μάλιστα έγινε το single με τις περισσότερες πωλήσεις της δεκαετίας του ’90 (κατάφερε να ξεπεράσει ακόμη και το super παγκόσμιο hit “Candle in the wind”), αλλά και το τρίτο best-seller single όλων των εποχών στη Γαλλία.

 

80) Larusso – “Tu m’oublieras” (1998)

Ο τίτλος του τραγουδιού σημαίνει “Θα με ξεχάσεις”, και μάλλον πολλοί θα έχουν ξεχάσει την Larusso. Εκείνη τη εποχή όμως, έγινε πολύ μεγάλο σουξέ, φτάνοντας στην κορυφή των δέκα singles με τις καλύτερες πώλησης της δεκαετίας του ’90. Ακόμα και σήμερα όταν το ακούς σε ξεσηκώνει!

 

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100 ESSENTIAL FRENCH SONGS YOU MUST HEAR Part 5: The 1990s

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The French musical landscape of the 90s sees the established musicians of the 70s and 80s still holding a prominent place. But alongside then, a new musical movement develops: the so-called “Nouvelle chanson”, that is, a return to the melodies and poetry of artists such as Brel, Brassens… This new French song’s artists find a wide audience and bring the chanson française back to its best.

The revival of French music of the 90s is also based on the emergence of a new rock scene. New bands, with influences both French and Anglo-Saxon, fill concert halls and appear at the top of the charts.

The influence of american hip-hop is also evident in France: French hip hop slowly becomes mainstream, so does electronic, dance and house music.

These are some of the most representative songs of the 90s:

69) Niagara – “Pendant Que Les Champs Brûlent” (1990)

French duo Niagara achieved popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, placing several singles in the Top 50 chart; their four studio albums have been gold certified. Evolving from a new wave and synthpop style on their earlier albums to a more rock-oriented style on their later ones, they have been frequently compared to the UK duo Eurythmics. This beautiful song (the title means “While the fields burn”) belongs to their third album, Religion.

 

 70) Mylène Farmer – “Désenchantée” (1991)

Arguably Europe’s greatest modern pop star, holding a series of impressive records (French artist who sold most records since 1984, record of diamond-certified albums, artist with more singles in the Top 50, among others), Mylène Farmer is the absolute French diva.

Controversial, enigmatic, rarely appearing in the media, refusing to talk about her private life, she is well known for her meaningful songs (often with double entendre, with artistic or literary references) and her spectacular concerts. This is one of her signature songs (the title means “Disappointed”), which she declared had to do with her own feelings at that time, although many  find the song refers to the political situation of France in the 90s.

 

 71) William Sheller – “Un homme heureux” (1991)

“A happy man” was performed by William Sheller in front of a live audience. The song found success as a single, charting for sixteen weeks on the Top 50 in France and winning the Song of the Year award at the 1992 Victoires de la Musique.

 

72) Mc Solaar – “Bouge de là” (1991)

Mc Solaar is one of France’s most internationally popular and influential hip hop artists, known for his complex lyrics, which rely on word play, lyricism, and inquiry. The song title means “Get out of here”,  and was one of the first hip hop hits in France. Other famous songs of Mc Solaar are Hasta la vista and La belle et le bad boy, which featured in the last  episode of the series Sex and the city.

 

73) IAM – “Je danse le Mia” (1993)

Je Danse le Mia was recorded by Marseille rap group IAM. It evokes Marseille nightlife during the 80s; the lyrics are ironic and full of clichés. The song became a major hit in France, and it’s considered the band’s signature song. It uses a sample from “Give me the night” by George Benson.

 

74) Les Négresses Vertes  – “Face à la mer” (Massive Attack Remix) (1993)

Les Négresses Vertes is one of the most representative bands of French alternative rock. Their style was quite unique though, as they incorporated elements of world and electronic music in their songs. Energetic and exotic, their work was widely acclaimed by critics and the general public. Their recognition and commercial success led to several international collaborations; this is a remix of their song Face à la mer by Massive Attack.

 

75) Alain Souchon – “Foule sentimentale” (1993)

Multi-awarded Alain Souchon denounces in this powerful song (the title means “Sentimental flock”) the emptiness of our consumer society: “we are inflicted desires that afflict us” and “they make us believe / that happiness is having / our cabinets full of things…”

This song is undoubtedly his greatest success, which received a Victoires de la musique award for the song of the year 1994, and a “Victoires des Victoires” award for the best original song of the last twenty years in 2005.

 

76) Lara Fabian – “Je suis malade” (1994)

Belgian-Canadian singer, Lara Fabian is the best-selling Belgian female artist of all time, but also well-known internationally. This beautifully sad, timeless song (the title means “I am sick”) belongs to Serge Lama, and had also been performed by Dalida, but this version by Lara Fabian is just marvellous.

 

77) Pascal Obispo – “Lucie” (1996)

Pascal Obispo has been one of French music central figures since the early 90s, being well-known not only for his talent, but also for his continuous charity work and his unconventional personality. In this song he addresses subjects such as childhood, time passing, life and tells us that we must strive to live from day to day, without asking too many questions.

 

78) Khaled – “Aïcha” (1996)

This song was written by Jean-Jacques Goldman, but he never released it, being originally performed by Algerian, France-based, raï artist Khaled. The title refers to an Arabic female name. In the song she is being wooed by a man, who promises her luxury, but she wants “anything but love”. It was a huge success, becoming one of France’s best selling singles of the decade.

 

79) Patrick Fiori, Daniel Lavoie & Garou – “Belle” (1997)

This song belongs to the musical Notre Dame de Paris. It was a massive hit in France, becoming the best-selling single of the decade (managing to surpass even the super hit worldwide “Candle in the wind”), and the third  best-selling single of all time.

 

80) Larusso – “Tu m’oublieras” (1998)

The song title means “You will forget me”, and indeed many people may have forgotten Larusso. At that time though, it was a huge success, reaching the top ten best selling singles of the 90s. So uplifting, still nowadays!

 

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