BitchTapes: Keepin' it Tropicál(ia)
This week on BitchTapes, we're taking a trip back to 1968 to visit the country of Brazil and the glory that is tropicália.
Tropicália was an artistic and musical movement born and led by Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso in the late 1960s in Brazil. While smooth bossa nova had reigned popular throughout the 1950s, the next wave of musicians itched to break away from its calculated sounds. Leading up to the birth of tropicália, Brazil’s president was overthrown during a 1964 coup d’état. A direct response in opposition of the dictatorship, Gil and Veloso innovatively mixed the sounds of rock, samba, and psychedelia to create tropicalismo. The movement thrived for a full year until the Brazilian government outlawed tropicália and imprisoned its pioneers. Despite its short run, tropicalismo still remains a strong source of inspiration for musicians of all genres.
In celebration of the nearly 45-year-old movement, I’ve compiled a short playlist of my favorite songs. You can learn more about tropicália here.
1. Parque Industrial – Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Tom Zé, Os Mutantes
This circus-y tune sounds like a walk in the park. Best of all? Its sung on by five of tropicália's most influential artists. Let’s let this movement’s leaders lead the way.
2. Rita Lee – Os Mutantes
This number has a piano riff classy enough to have made an appearance during the days of ragtime. Rita Lee is also the name of the woman behind Os Mutantes. I’m not sure what they’re saying about her, but it sure sounds like fun.
3. Alegria, Alegria – Caetano Veloso
The light-hearted guitar and tambourine shakes on this song sound like something that The Velvet Underground would’ve churned out—only in Portuguese and with an organ. Veloso’s voice is sweeter than ever as he sings about happiness and drinking Coca-Cola.
4. Queremos Guerra – Gilberto Gil, Jorge Ben, Caetano Veloso
Remember when I said tropicália was politically influenced? I wasn’t bluffing. Gil, Ben, and Veloso want war! And they want it now! (Lucky for us, ‘cause we get to dance along to the revolution).
5. Algo Mais – Os Mutantes
Here’s Os Mutantes doing it again. This song translates to “something more” but it won’t leave you unsatisfied.
6. Três Caravelas (Las Tres Carabelas) – Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil
Boss nova and samba influences are equally strong on this song about threes. Check out that blaring trumpet.
7. Criola – Jorge Ben
I can picture the music video now: dreamy bellhops and pool boys, singin’ and dancin’ around a swanky and tropical hotel. Beautiful beaches. Coconuts with straws. Mmmhmm.
8. Mamãe, Coragem – Gal Costa
The vocals on this track are beyond beautiful. Costa really belts it out on this slow but powerful piece. Goosebumps galore.
9. Descobri Que Sou Um Anjo – Jorge Ben
Jorge mixes all sorts of genres to crank out this spooky song. It’s a great warm-up for Halloween!
10. Lindonéia – Nara Leão
While Nara Leão was better known for her bossa nova, she also made an appearance on the manifesto of tropicália: Ou Panis Et Circensis.
11. Miserere Nóbis – Gilberto Gil
The guitar and backup vocals on this track compliment Gil’s perfectly.
12. Baby – Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso
One of tropicalismo’s most well known songs, Baby became Costa’s first nationwide hit single for a good reason.
There ya have it! 12 tunes to get your nose wet in some tropicália! Be sure to comment with your favorite songs.
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