I thought that it was time to step out from listening to Bach, Choral music, Bill Evans and Chopin and investigate what most people are listening to these days. So I went to Spotify and found the playlist Top Brasil, which has the 50 songs from Brazilian artists most listened to on Spotify, and from there I picked some whom I liked… Luckily, judging by the popularity ratings on Vagalume (a very complete service on artists and songs) all of these are doing well, so here is some background to help your listening! I should say, however, that whoever likes rap will find no inclusions – I cannot get to like the artificial rhythms, irritatingly repeated patterns of notes, and complete lack of melody (although I can take the salacious, invective lyrics of revolt when I can understand them..!)
First pick is this 21-year-old singer from Goiás, who is a prolific songwriter – not only for herself, but for other artists too. Although classed as música sertaneja, her songs seem to me more universal than that – the instruments include a piano, sometimes accordion, apart from the usual guitar, bass and percussion. She has a pleasing contralto voice, and fits the words across the rhythm to the manner born. Since she sings often about inconstant relationships and breakups (and due to her age), she seems to me much like Adele when she started out. Although she has written songs since she was 12, Marília only began her career as a performing artist at age 20, in 2015. After the success of her first album released by Som Livre, which had the hits Infiel and Eu sei de cor, she was invited to perform on the Rede Globo’s prestigious Show da Virada at the end of 2016.
In interviews, Marilia comes across as a warm, open personality – she loves her singing and traveling round Brasil, and says Salvador is her second home. She has slimmed notably in 2017 to have more disposition for the round of shows, but comments “I don’t want to part of a stereotype… independent of being tubby or slim, I want to stay feeling at peace with myself”. Good independent stuff !
Her songs in the Top 50 are De quem é a culpa? Eu sei de cor (twice), and Ninguem é de ferro with Wesley Safadão.
In terms of rise to fame and fortune, Wesley Oliveira da Silva is very impressive. Perhaps more impressive as a businessman in the world of music than as an artist conquering by exceptional talent. Born in Fortaleza, Ceará in 1988, he and his family (brothers and cousins) formed a band called Garota Safada, which began to be a success in Fortaleza, until a manager took them on, and they came to represent the new way to make forró, becoming very popular throughout the Northeast of Brazil. His personal charisma and energy are very impressive, and he appears frequently on TV shows. As for energy, he and his band may do 25 or more shows a month! At the end of May 2017 for instance, he has 6 shows scheduled in 7 days, moving from Niteroi to different towns in the interior of São Paulo and Minas. (He apparently bought a R$14m jet to add to the plane and Ferrari he had already, to help fit in more shows). Among the Top50 songs, he has Ninguém é de ferro and Meu coração deu Pt. (This is not political – the theme is Ontem eu era o amor da sua vida/E hoje eu sou o que?)
Unusual name – Alok Achkar Peres Petrillo (born in Goiânia in 1991) is described as a DJ and musical producer of electronic music. His parents were the precursors of psy trance in Brazil, creating a famous festival, Universo Paralelo. He accompanied the performances of his parents alongside his twin brother Bhaskar, and they decided to form the live trance project Logic. The duo released a totally authorial album and did shows in about 19 countries, in addition to their songs being featured in the Beatport virtual store. In 2010, he decided to pursue a solo career, changing the genre to house music, which he calls Brazilian bass. Alok released some songs, soon becoming prominent in the market, with invitations to national and international festivals. After signing a contract with a Dutch label, he released the song Hear Me Now which has Bruno Martini with vocals and composition by Marcos Zeeba. The song achieved in just one month 10 million views on YouTube and consecrated Alok as the first Brazilian artist to achieve 100 million plays on Spotify. Wow!
He is of course in the Top 50 with this song, as well as Never let me go and Fuego. Apart from my misgivings, this turns out to be gentle, melodic music, with attractive singing and lots of space.
Then there are many contributions from “duos sertanejos” – I always considered música sertaneja to be country music sung by a male duo, like Chitãozinho e Xororó, Zezé di Camargo e Luciano and many others. The current stars appear to be Matheus e Kauan, and Henrique e Juliano. The latter are brothers from the state of Tocantins, very competent in their genre, and their successes are Vidinho de Balada, Na Hora de Raiva, and Nada Nada.
Matheus e Kauan are also brothers, from Goias, but Kauan (Osvaldo Pinto Rosa Filho) had developed a musical career (including in the USA) before he discovered on returning to Brasil that his brother was also doing great in the style. They write a lot of the music they sing, and in the Top 50 they have Te Assumi Pro Brasil, Exclusividade, Oitava Dose, Papel Amassado, and Nosso Santo Bateu So, while classical music in Rio de Janeiro is suffering from a drastic lack of funds, and presentations in the traditional concert Halls are languishing, fortunes are to be made from musical entertainment – in the interior, in shows at Rodeos, in Sambódromos, and in football stadiums – by singing in small groups about the experiences and emotions of the young.
An advantage today is that it is very easy to hear recordings of these artists. If you don’t have Spotify (you should do. It’s a a music, podcast, and video streaming service, where music can be browsed or searched for) you can easily find them on YouTube, and… Good Listening!