Shake your booty to Ivete & Paula & all the ampersands

If long-legged Brazilian women dancing around in, ahem, leopardskin swimming costumes are your thing, then this videoclip is for you. It’s the latest hit single by singer Ivete Sangalo, who is celebrating 20 years in the Brazilian music business, including a stint as the lead singer of a popular group called Banda Eva. Thankfully, Ivete (pronounced Eve-vetchy) has eschewed leopardskin for an outfit that looks like a shiny coral reef. The song is Tempo de Alegria (Time of Happiness). Check it out.

I am very fond of Ivete. She, Daniela Mercury and Marisa Monte are in a way the female pioneers of my exploration of Brazilian music – they all seemed to feature on the compilation CDs I bought on my first trip to that country more than a decade ago, and the locals spoke highly enough of them to persuade me to buy one of their CDs whenever I could find it.

Moving on to another very popular singer, one from the newer generation of songbirds, Paula Fernandes. Her voice has a deeper, solemn tone, and the more I listen to her latest chart-buster Não Fui Eu (It Wasn’t Me), the more I like it. You don’t have to know the words to sense that this is a song about parting in sadness and bitterness. The “Ei, escuta” (that last a is almost silent) that you hear at the very start and often in the verses means “Hey, listen” – she is talking to her ex. In the chorus she says she knows he will put the blame on her, but if anyone asks, she will say “it wasn’t me”. He was the one, we learn, who broke a heart, dashed their hopes and destroyed their dreams. The brute! How could he do this to her?

In this performance she is looking very fetching in, um, a sort of frilly pink cowgirl swimming costume type of thing and some of the dangling frills seem to strum her guitar more than she does. This song has resonance!

Brazilians are great supporters of musical acts from their own country – more often than not, the music charts in that country will be dominated by local artists, although of course international ones get a look-in too.

A perennially popular genre of music in Brazil, for reasons that I confess elude me, is sertanejoor música sertaneja, or, as this website calls it, “countrified Brazilian pop”. (For a historical explanation, go to the Great Brazilian Music website). Michel Teló’s international smash hit Ai Se Eu Te Pego from a couple of years ago is probably the best known example of the genre. A more current offering is this one by Zezé di Camargo & Luciano. Here the long-legged dancing girls have ditched their leopardskins for more sensible stripey Zebra crossing outfits.

It is almost mandatory for sertanejo artists to team up in pairs. So as well Zezé di Camargo & Luciano you will come across Bruno & Marrone, Leandro & Leonardo, Guilherme & Santiago, Jorge & Mateus, & so on & so on. The ampersand is so important in Brazilian music credits! Bruno, give me a call. I think Bruno & Bernardo has a nice ring to it. I got the looks, sort of (a bit of Photoshop and subdued lighting helps). I can sing, sort of. I have a cowboy outfit in the cupboard. And I got an electric guitar for Christmas.


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