By Rodrigo Pinheiro Das Graças
The artists and songs chosen for the opening of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics were exceptionally picked. A great deal of the music choices contributed to the spectacle’s charm, despite all of the doubt that loomed over the success of the opening ceremony; the complicated scenario within Brazil had justified this hesitation.
I believe the music was the highlight of the ceremony: great Brazilian classics were played, like “Garota de Ipanema” (The Girl From Ipanema) and “Aquarela do Brasil” (widely known simply as Brazil). However, as a Brazilian who loves music, it’s hard not to think in the relevance of Brazilian music to the rest of the world. Currently, it isn’t so relevant, but in the past — especially in the 60’s —Brazil was a shining beacon of good music. Tom Jobim took the whole world by assault with his Girl From Ipanema, making known to all the mixture between samba and jazz that was called Bossa nova. Other names like Carmem Miranda, Ary Barroso and Mutantes were also made known to the wide public.
Tom Jobim performing “Garota de Ipanema”
The fact that Brazilian music lost a great share of its strength is also noticed in the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony. Those great classics from the past were the highlights, not the more recent songs. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any good Brazilian music and musicians right now. If you want to build into the momentum of the Olympics and listen to some songs from Brazil, here are my recommendations:
Seu Jorge— If you want something typically Brazilian, Seu Jorge has it. I recommend his album Músicas Para Churrasco; if you want something more familiar, I recommend The Life Aquatic Sessions, which is my favorite album by him, a wonderful reinterpretation of some of David Bowie’s best songs.
Maria Gadú— She’s the kind of artist that deals with old and new songs equally well. She has a lot of songs featuring the dinosaurs of Brazilian music like Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil (both present in the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony, where they sang “Isto Aqui, O Que É?”). I’d finally recommend listening to “Shimbalaiê,” from her first album.