Brazilian songs and music are a rich part of Brazilian culture. Brazilians are rightfully proud of their musical heritage especially its original styles like samba, bossa nova, frevo, lambada, maracatu, pagode, tropicalia, brega and even Brazilian rock.
All of these music genres have influenced the following top 5 most famous songs of all time. It must be noted that these songs are in no particular order – or that every Brazilian will agree with the selection - since music is always a matter of personal preference.
Of all the Brazilian songs recorded, the most famous on the world stage is the Garota de Ipanema. Yes, that’s the Girl from Ipanema – a song originally recorded by Pery Ribeiro in 1962 and then in 1964 by João Gilberto and Stan Getz. Many artists including Frank Sinatra also recorded the song, thus, cementing its iconic status as one of the greatest songs in Brazil music all across the globe.
Its composers are Norman Gimbel (English lyrics), Vinicius de Moraes (Portuguese lyrics) and Antônio Carlos Jobim (music). It was such a popular song that it won the 1965 Grammy for Record of the Year.
Its inspiration was Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, a beautiful 17-year old girl when the song was written. The song describes unreturned love for a "tall and tan and young and lovely" girl who "walks to the sea" but "looks straight ahead", not at the singer. I remember going by the bar where the song was written when I lived in Rio, it was pretty cool to see that in person.
The song is an ode to Brazil in many ways and Ary Barroso, its composer, said as much in an interview. Barroso said that when he was writing Aquarela do Brasil, he experienced all the greatness, all the value and all the wealth of Brazil so much so that he felt like a different man after he finished the song.
The title’s literal translation is Watercolor of Brazil, which brings to mind the beauty of the country in watercolor and its interesting to know that Barroso wrote it while he was in the middle of a heavy rainstorm.
This can be described as a love song where the singer considers it his greatest luck to meet his angel and his true passion to win her heart so that he may be happy for life. Sorte Grande was performed by Ivete Sangalo, a Bahian singer, and included in his 2003 Carnival Club Lambs in Progress album. Sangalo considers it the biggest success of his career.
Bossa nova is one of the most popular genres for Brazilian songs so it comes as no surprise that one of the greatest songs from Brazil is Chega de Saudade. It is, in fact, the first bossa nova song in history!
Known in its English version as No More Blues and The Song, it was the breakthrough piece of João Gilberto in 1958. Its composers were Antonio Carlos Jobim for the music and Vinícius de Moraes for the lyrics. It is a song that speaks of yearning for a passionate connection such as when you're homesick.
No list of the greatest songs in Brazil is complete without mentioning Pais Tropical. It was composed by Jorge Ben, a Brazilian singer and songwriter, and was originally performed by Simonal in 1969. Even singers such as Shakira, Ivete Sangalo, Daniela Mercury, and Cladia Leitte have recorded their own versions.