Festivale de Football Day 4: Brazil

This, this is great. For You Can Call Me Betty's 100th post, I can sit here just in my shorts it's so hot, the football on the telly right next to me, and I get to post about Brazil. As football posts go, it doesn't get much more exciting: in the words of Mugatu, they're so hot right now - Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Adriano and, yes, Fred made the squad, the samba boys are still (as every year) the hottest property in football - I wish I could incoporate Ronaldinho's band in there, but try as I might, they're too busy to post mp3's.
While there's always speculation (Argentina could do it, never discount Germany, England might go all the way (although not if you take off Owen without an adequate replacement, Eriksson you spaz)), Brazil are hot favourites to take the trophy for a fairly impressive sixth time.

And what do you know, but the accompanying music ain't too shabby either. Traditional samba gave way to the more populist bossa nova style in the '5o's, leading to something of a worldwide spread - the cool factor in music of this era is pretty high, and considered alongside the likes of contemporaries such as Sinatra or Dean Martin, you tell me who's getting musical cues from who. The style reached it's peak in the mid-60's and it's generally recognised that the absolute epitome of the style is this rendition of 'Girl From Ipanema', with it's gentle swing and smooth, cool vocals.

Astrud Gilberto with Stan Getz and João Gilberto - Girl From Ipanema

However, if any facet of música popular Brasileira has become most prominent in the last year or two, it's the alluringly-named Tropicalia. Since Beck's Mutations album (it's title a nod to one of the era's most famous bands, Os Mutantes, it's lead single also called Tropicalia) there's been a revival of interest with new compilation releases and an exhibition at the Barbican.

As mentioned before, music is always influenced not just by other music but by the atmosphere surrounding it, and political upheaval certainly comes under that bracket. Just as the Angolan civil war influenced Bonga Kuenda's protest songs, and Argentina's military regime brought out Charly Garcia, so Brazil's tumultuous recent history of military coups and state oppression inspired the Tropacalistas to produce music of dizzying invention and style. Discontented with the oppressive military government and the ineffectual left-wing alike, the protagonists (including key players such as Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and Tom Zé) put their heads together and created a sound that was at the same time hugely international and overwhelmingly Brazilian - elements of samba, bossa nova and capoeira snuck in, as did Bahian folk, Anglo-American psych-rock and European art anti-music of the likes purveyed by Karl-heinz Stockhausen or even John Cage.

1968 saw both the inauguration of Tropicalia into Brazilian public consciousness and it's downfall with the arrest and deportation of Gil and Veloso. But it wasn't the sort of movement to need a long-winded and drawn out development, or acts to have a lengthy career within the genre. It was an explosion of ideas rather than a melting pot, and it took in art, poetry and cinema with it. It's left a deep impression on Brazil's subsequent music, and who knows, maybe the artists' naive idealism really made a difference to the lives of your average Brazilian. Whatever the lasting effect, you can be sure that the "Brazilian revolution in sound" threw up some classic funky, joyous tunes and the wilful experimentation within only added to the overall effect.

I've included tunes from some of the key players - in truth, it was just a handful of musicians that created the sound (Gil, Velosa, Gal Costa, Jorge Ben, Tom Zé and Os Mutantes), but it covers such a wide range that to fully experience it, it'd be worth following up by buying music from each band. until then, last year's Tropicalia album provides a worthy intro.

Os Mutantes - A Minha Menina (you may know it as covered by the Bees a few years ago)
Caetano Veloso - Alfômega
Tom Zé - Gloria

As far as Brazil's music goes right now, the blog world has been hot with a number of acts in recent days: Gorilla Vs. Bear has featured both Tropicalia and Cibelle; and GvsB, Musikoon, Yeti Don't Dance and disco-not-disco, to name but four, have all been buzzing about Cansei de Ser Sexy. My vote for favourite I've heard recently though, goes to Rosalia de Souza, as posted by Niall.

Rosalia de Souza - Que Bandeira (Gerardo Frisina remix)

Buy Tropicalia the album
Buy Brazilian music/Os Mutantes/Veloso/Gil//Costa/Ben

Sources: Wikipedia; thanks to Brian

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CIA Factbook: Brazil


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