The Best of Brazilian Music for 2018 brought us milestone moments for several Brazilian pop legends. It gave us noteworthy debuts and rising stars. Here’s my list of 2018’s best Brazilian songs from both sides of the equator.
‘All One’ – Alexandra Jackson, from Legacy & Alchemy(Album of The Year)
Alexandra Jackson’s Legacy & Alchemy is my choice for ‘Album of The Year’. With 18 songs recorded on three continents, Legacy & Alchemy features some of the most talented Brazilian musicians ever assembled. The list includes Ivan Lins, guitarist Ricardo Silveira, Paulo and Daniel Jobim, Carlinhos Brown and the late Arthur Maia. American jazzers like Hubert Laws, Larry Dunn and Larry Williams, too. Even lost tracks from Miles Davis and Antonin Carlos Jobim. This song features the final recordings by Al Jarreau and Oscar Castro-Neves.
‘A Cada Canto’ – Alexia Bomtempo, from Chasing Storms and Stars
This song is from Alexia Bomtempo’s 3rd solo album. It’s a worthy standout among a competitive field of singer-songwriters for The Best of Brazilian Music for 2018. Based in New York, this Brazilian-American vocalist has been featured in several Connectbrazil stories this year. Check out ‘Millennial Music Makers’ and ‘Songs In The Feminine Key’, where the story behind her music gives us a glimpse into the artist and her life.
‘Bitcoin Samba’ – Roy Stephansen, from Smooth Currency
This swinging Bossa Nova instrumental feels right at home on our list of The Best of Brazilian Music for 2018. Decades before Italy’s Nicola Conte and Giacomo Bondi revitalized Bossa Nova for new generations, Europe was already engaged in its own love affair with the Bossa beat. Bandleaders like Belgium’s Nico Gomes, Germany’s Martin Böttcher, Brazil’s Neco and even Oliver Nelson and Quincy Jones set the pace. Norway’s Roy Stephansen is by any measure a remarkable musician and band leader and I can’t wait to hear what’s in store for 2019.
‘Fly Over The Horizon’- Marcos Ariel, from Americas
Marcos Ariel’s Americas is the Carioca keyboardist’s first studio album in several years. His pedigree of popular recordings (My Only Passion, Magic Eyes, 4 Friends) would be reason enough for a place on this list. The concept is equally impressive. These 11 songs draw Pan-American inspiration from the beaches of Rio to the Cali coast. Then from the magical rhythms of Central America to the vibrant energy of Montreal and Quebec City. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard from Marcos Ariel, you can catch up with him here.
‘Fora da Memoria’ – Tribalistas, from Tribalistas
What happens when a ‘one-off’ supergroup recoding gets a sequel 15 years later? It ends up on ‘Best of’ lists like this one and then repeats the feat a year later. That’s the self-titled story for Brazil’s Marisa Monte, Arnaldo Antunes and Carlinhos Brown. This trio excels with deep lyrics, rich tones and quixotic melodies. Then there’s a street-smart approach to the business of music that could serve as a blueprint for years to come. Album? Must have. 2019 US Tour? Must see.
Lembra – Luiza Possi, Lembra – Single
Zizi’s daughter continues to surprise and impress. A late 2017 release date meant that we had to wait a year for this single to take its place on my list of the Best of Brazilian Music for 2018. ‘Remember’ has it all. Love-song lyrics, a catchy hook and an irresistible charm that makes it a welcome replay whenever you hear it. Try it on our streaming station at Connectbrazil.com. Thanks, Luiza, for keeping the pulse of MPB so entertainingly strong.
‘Let Me Say’ – Silva, from Brasileiro
Did I mention MPB? Brazilian pop is making a welcome comeback on the talents of a core group of ‘rising star’ songwriters. Among these Matatlantica Millennials is Silva, who gained instant recognition as Marisa Monte’s songwriting partner. Released in May, Brasiliero is his 5th studio album and features another hit song with Anitta, ‘Fico Tudo Bem’. The future is bright for Brazilian music and for Silva, who is too talented to not be heard singing in English. This song checks that box, too. At least partially.
‘Leve’ – Jorge Vercillo, single
There’s a rumor going around that Jorge Vercillo’s English-language debut was recorded deep in the woods, near a fallen tree. Because few fans actually heard it. And that’s a shame. Given the right opportunity, Vercillo could make a real impact here in the USA to compliment his career as one of Brazil’s top pop performers. ‘Leve’ is one of his all-time greatest hits, the English lyrics are perfect and Sandro Alpert’s arrangement is crazy good. Now, all that needs to happen is for a few million more people to come to the same conclusion. Maybe its place on this list will help.
‘Sambadouro’ – Ricardo Bacelar, from Sebastiana
Recorded in Miami, pianist Bacelar’s Sebastiana is a musical portrait of the Americas with a contemporary and distinctive Latin-American approach. Produced by his friend Cesar Lemos (Ricky Martin, Paulina Rubio), these 15 tracks bring a fresh approach to classic songs by Azymuth, Gilberto Gil, Ivan Lins, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Milton Nascimento, plus a pair of instrumental originals from the lawyer-turned-musician. English versions helped his album achieve widespread airplay to make it to my list of the Best of Brazilian Music for 2018.
‘Termos e Condicoes’ – Erasmo Carlos, from Amor É Isso
Many of Brazil’s top musical stars from the late 1960’s and 70’s are beginning to wind down their careers. But one Brazilian evergreen continues to surprise, and he did it again last year. Erasmo Carlos made his mark as a songwriting partner with Roberto Carlos (no relation), but his own credits as a singer have been stellar. That’s especially true with his trademark style of Brazilian R&B. 2018 saw a return in a big way, when he teamed up with rapper Emicida for ‘Terms & Conditions’ with its irresistible hook.
Honorable Mention: The Best of Brazilian Music for 2018
Last October saw the release of a new album by another rising star who sings in Portuguese. Márcia was born and raised in Lisbon, but her affinity with Rio’s music scene is helping to make her a top voice in Portugal, too. The song is called ‘Tempo da Adventura’ and I expect that you’ll be hearing more from her in the year to come.
‘Matteo’ – Basia, from Butterflies
2018 proved the point yet again: Basia’s worldwide fanbase is still powerfully engaged. That’s a reflection of the energy she brings to her music and the personality that draws us to the stories she sings. Her US Concert tour sold out quickly – two nights in Chicago could have been four. This is the first single from Butterflies and you can count of hearing more in 2019. #THANKFUL, #COMEBACKSOON, #WHATSNEXT