October 4, 2008


So Brazilians love their music. That is unquestionable. Although I have to say that if you’d asked me before I moved here what would be one of the things I would find most annoying about living in Brazil, I never would have in a million years thought that hearing music blast from cars or apartments or in bars would be on the list. But it isn’t what I would have defined as Brazilian music but instead the youth culture’s fashionable appropriation of American rock, rap, heavy metal and house music.

They have their own version of hip hop too, which I always get a laugh about because you’ll see, for example on Brazilian MTV, some big, black, bedazzled Brazilian hip hop artist talking about his music and he’ll pronounce it “hippy hoppy” which totally cracks me up because it reminds me of the children’s song about Peter Cottontail coming down the bunny trail, hippity hoppity… and it’s this big dude trying to look so cool in his shades and get-up, and … well, you get it.

Oh, they also love this thing they call “funk” which couldn’t be further removed from American funk in the George Clinton and the P-Funk vein, but rather is this abhorrent electronic music that is nothing more than mind-numbingly loud bass and bleeps.
The first time I heard that blasting from a car in the quiet little village near our land I wanted to claw my ears out.

American music has such a strong influence here that I often wonder if the youth culture remembers that they were born into one of the singularly most sublime musical traditions on the planet. And it totally bums me out that we’ll not go into a restaurant or avoid someone’s kid’s birthday party because we know that we are just going to be assaulted by (in our opinion) terrible music.

But then there are moments like I had in the grocery store the other day. A song by a popular Brazilian pop singer came on. One that everyone knows and has a sort of nostalgic fondness for -- it’s lyrics, a bittersweet reminder of the happiness everyone chases but only glimpses occasionally, a lazy day on the beach with loved ones, drinking the famous açai and the sun shining just for you… And there on a rainy night in the bread aisle at rush hour, everyone was sort of bopping around and singing along and when the chorus came on it seemed for a moment that time got elastic and everyone slowed down and sang a little louder, looking at each other, smiling and happy to be oh so very Brazilian.

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