I could not possibly give an exhaustive anything about the music of Brasil in one post, but in this one I will talk about my favorites and a super brief history. Really brief it's
I love Samba, it has roots in Brazilian slavery as a banzu dance because to make a good samba you need to be really sad. It's was created to dance out despair.
Historically the soul of samba is Black but the face has been White. The people they put on the album covers when it began to be recorded and widely distributed (as opposed to an underground, liesure activity/dance: samba da roda), were White because the government didn't want the rest of the world to think that Brazilians were all Black. Now there are so many different kinds of Samba though, even samba-reggae.
Bossa Nova is what happened to Samba when they tried to make it into a "finer product" to export into Europe and the U.S. It is like a Samba-Jazz. Even though it comes from ethnocentric, European-washing endeavors, I do think it's beautiful music. Not necessarily "finer" than samba but it's nice and relaxing.
Listen to João Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes for Bossa Nova; they are its fathers.
Corcovado by João and Astrud Gilberto:
But right now I am super interested in Tropicalia.
A movement that came out of the military dictatorship in the 1960s that was experimental super pastiche (mixing indigenous music sounds with british rock and samba and jazz from the U.S. etc) and secretly "subversive" and critical of the government and chic, classist society. The founders of this movement were Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, the group Os Mutantes, and Gal Costa and a few others.
The first album "Tropicalia: Ou Panis et Circensus" (bread and circus) is my favorite. The manifesto of Tropicalia would be the song Tropicalia (hear it on youtube
I also really like Panis et Circensus. (English version:
And Baby! oh it's one of my favorite songs right now
The 1968 version of Baby in Portuguese I love love love:
This more bossa nova-like English version of Baby:
Of course people listen to all sorts of music here, but I will mention that at least in Bahia Bob Marley is ALL over the place as well as Beyonce (I hear Halo about 5 times a day on the street etc) and it actually started with the Black Power movement of Afro-solidarity that Brazilians feel transnationally. Michael Jackson and James brown were/are HUGE here as a beginning of this movement. I think it's great and I feel like you don't see that in the states so much like the connection with African-Americans (in the states) to other African descendent communities around the world. We should have more of that.