Brazil may be an enormous country that encompasses an entire world of pop culture, but for the most part, its music remains globally unrecognized. This is partially because, universally, most artists have to sing in English in order to gain global significance (think about Shakira, Enrique and Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin…need I continue?). Which is such a shame, because not only is Portuguese nice to listen to, but Brazil also produces an amazing array of music that should be recognized around the world, without being translated into English.
While most Brazilian music does not leave Brazil, there is one Brazilian song that has acheieved worldwide popularity…
“Ai se eu te pego:” A Global Phenomenon
“Ai se eu te pego” (“Oh, if I catch you”), by Michel Telo, is by far the most popular Brazilian song outside of Brazil since the bossa nova hit “Girl from Ipanema.” The song reached #1 first in Brazil, and later throughout Latin America, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The song was so popular that there was even an English version created (I have listened to it and do not recommend it. Some songs are just meant to be sung in their native language…). Here is what Forbes had to say about the song’s success.
Interestingly enough, the song became global only after players from the Real Madrid soccer team, like Cristiano Ronaldo, were caught on videotape dancing to the song during a game. After this video went viral, the song spurred to popularity in Europe.
But despite its global success, “Ai se eu te pego” is detested by many Brazilians, who are ashamed that such a vapid, cheesy song has been elected to represent the music from their country. No one can deny that the song is catchy…but the Brazilians are right; there is still so much more to their music that deserves to be uncovered.
Most popular styles of music
Pagode originated in Salvador and then spread to Rio, becoming a subgenre of samba. Nowadays, pagode is popular all throughout Brazil; you will almost always hear this music on the streets, on the beach…everywhere! This is what it sounds like:
Forro is another popular style of both music and dance in Brazil. Although it is most popular in the northeast and most commonly associated with the Festa Junina (June festival), the music is played all throughout Brazil. Listen to the music here:
Sertanejo comes from the countryside of Brazil. Its American equivalent is country music. Many of the artists sing in pairs. An example of sertanejo is Michel Telo’s “Ai se eu te pego.” Listen to another classic example here:
A few favorites
Take a look at some of my favorite songs from these popular artists to get your playlist rolling…
Lulu Santos: “Apenas mais uma de amor”