The Socceroos essential Brazil playlist
The Socceroos face Spain, Holland and Chile in their World Cup “group of death” and they’ll almost certainly be out of the action after the first round, but they may was well enjoy their time in Brazil with this essential Brazilian playlist. At the very least it will kill an hour on their long-haul flight back from Rio.
Most of the songs here come from the late-1960s, where Brazilian music really came of age. While the musical world was transfixed on the burgeoning psychedelic scenes in Britain and the US, an almost parallel explosion of free thought and culture was happening on the streets of Sao Paulo, Salvador and Rio, away from the mainstream’s critical gaze. You won’t see obvious stuff like ‘Girl From Ipanema’ and ‘Mas Que Nada’ on this list, or Sepultura or CSS. Why? Because we decided to go back to their roots (bloody roots) instead. (And, besides, you don’t introduce people to classic Australian music with Cut Copy and Boy & Bear.)
With apologies to Milton Nascimento, Nara LeÃ£o, Erasmo Carlos, Roberto Carlos, Maria BethÃ¢nia, Tom Zé, Chico Buarque, Astrud Gilberto, Marcos Valle, etc.
(Photo above: Getty Images)
Ary Barroso – Aquarela do Brasil
Officially the ‘Yesterday’ of Brazil, this song – written by Ary Barroso in 1939 – has been covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Django Reinhardt, Beirut to Arcade Fire. It was a recurring motif in Terry Gilliam’s dystopian classic Brazil, was referenced by Melbourne’s Eagle & The Worm in their 2010 single ‘All I Know’ and even turned up on a Vengaboys party album (where it was presumably butchered). Though hardly definitive, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s lounge-y version is included because it’s just so fucking cool.
JoÃ£o Gilberto – Chega De Saudade
JoÃ£o Gilberto practically invented bossa nova. And if you don’t think that’s a big deal you’ve obviously never been to a dinner party with cognac and fondue.
Os Mutantes – A Minha Menina
Jorge Ben wrote this song, but three Sao Paulo teenagers turned it into a psych-rock masterpiece with more fuzz than a Mudhoney album and the upper-lip of a pubescent teen combined. Used in a McDonald’s ad for the 2008 Olympics, and covered by English outfit The Bees.
Caetano Veloso – Tropicalia
In the late-1960s, two muckrakers called Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil sparked an artistic and cultural revolution in Brazil that pissed off the rigid right-wing government so much it saw them deported. Here’s the song that gave the movement its name; its swirling, hypnotic strings summed up the confusion and chaos at the time.
Gilberto Gil – Domingo No Parque
Don’t let the English translation (‘Sunday In The Park’) fool you. The politically charged ‘Domingo No Parque’ foisted tropicalia onto millions of Brazilian kids when Gil and Os Mutantes performed it live on TV at the Festival de MÃºsica Popular Brasileira in 1967. When Gil stands up from his chair and lifts his arm in the air at 2.49, it’s as powerful as Dylan plugging in at Newport.
Edu Lobo – Ponteio
Edu was already a bossa star when he beat Gil’s ‘Domingo No Parque’ (see above) with this song at Festival de MÃºsica Popular Brasileira in 1967. And who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned key change?
Elis & Tom – Ãguas de MarÃ§o
A duet between Antonio Carlos Jobim and the late Elis Regina (Brazil’s Janis Joplin if you’re into these kind of cross-cultural comparisons). Inspired by the rains in
Africa Rio (it’s not called ‘Waters of March’ for nothing), it’s probably the most beautiful song you’ll ever hear. But don’t just take our word for it. In 2001, more than 200 Brazilian journalists, musicians and artists named it the best Brazilian song of all-time.
Gal Costa – Baby
Another oft-covered Caetano standard. Os Mutantes’ English version is looser and more hip (it featured on the soundtrack of Forgetting Sarah Marshall), but Gal’s version – featuring soaring strings by Rogério Duprat and Costa’s – is definitive. Features on the 1968 compilation TropicÃ¡lia ou Panis et Circencis, which galvanised the tropicalia movement.
Jorge Ben – Taj Mahal
If you’re listening to this and thinking, “Oh, this sounds a lot like Rod Stewart’s ‘Do You Think I’m Sexy’”, well, that’s already been settled in court. Ben’s the genius behind ‘Mas Que Nada’, which was popularised by Sérgio Mendes and destroyed by The Black Eyed Peas.
Nelson Angelo e Joyce – Comunhao
Joyce Moreno and her then husband released only one album together, an ethereal psych-folk classic that sounds like nothing else. From 1972.
Elis Regina – Como Nossos Pais
Elis Regina died in 1982 at age 36 from a drug overdose. She was nicknamed “hurricane” for good reason. She was diminutive in stature but her voice was gigantic. She was a total badass who fought against the government, capitalism and inequality. Watch her sing the absolute shit out of this song backed by a strung-out band wearing tights and capes.
Novos Baianos – Tinindo Trincando
Protégées of JoÃ£o Gilberto, this Salvador rock fused American and British rock’n’roll and traditional baiÃ£o) rhythms. ‘Tinindo Trincando’, from their ground-breaking 1972 album Acabou Chorare, proves how much they were listening to Hendrix … and smoking pot.