Take “the 100 greatest” with a grain of salt and let the list be an introduction to Brazilian music history.
1. The versatility of Brazilian music
Like its inhabitants, the origins of Brazilian music lie in different parts of the world. Influences from Europe, Africa, South and North America have spawned dozens of genres and subgenres, including maxixe, choro, samba, forró, bossanova, tropicália, mpb (música popular brasileira), baile funk, funk carioca, Brazilian soul, rock, house and hip-hop, which you will find in this list.
With a song from 1895 (“Corta Jaca” by Chiquinha Gonzaga) and from 2020 (“Wash & Eat
Shadow Movement remix” by Tessuto) this list (Spotify and Soundcloud) covers 3 centuries of Brazilian music history.
Some songs like “Trem das Onze” by Adoniran Barbosa from 1964 are literally timeless and are still played in (samba) clubs. And that makes Brazilian culture and music unique in this world.
2. Highlights of Brazilian Music history
1895 – The very sensual composition “Corta Jaca” was one of her greatest successes. In addition, Chiquinha Gonzaga was the first female conductor in Brazil, the first pianist of choro and composer of the first carnival march.
1916 – On November 27, a samba composition, “Pelo Telefone” by the composer Ernesto Joaquim Maria dos Santos, better known as Donga, was added to the register of the National Library of Rio de Janeiro for the first time.
1959 – The film Orfeu Negro was released and would win the Golden Palm (Palme d’Or) and Oscar for best foreign film. For the soundtrack, composer Antônio Carlos Jobim and lyricist Vinícius de Moraes wrote the bossa nova classic “A felicidade”, which also features the gems “Manhã de Carnaval” and “Samba de Orfeo” by Luiz Bonfá.
1963 – Jorge Ben Jor releases his debut album Samba Esquema Novo with ‘Mas Que Nada’, probably the most famous Brazilian song in the world.
1969 – Just before Gilberto Gil was expelled from Brazil by the military dictatorship and settled in London, he recorded “Aquele Abraço”. The song became his biggest hit and symbol of the fight against the military dictatorship in Brazil.
1975 – After the record companies told him that they didn’t like his new work, Tim Maia decided to release his double album Racional about the cult Cultura Racional (which he had joined) himself. Partly due to the lack of a good distribution network, the album was a flop. Now with songs like “Que Beleza” and “Bom-senso” it is considered one of the highlights of Brazilian music history.
1982 – The most famous bossa nova song by the versatile composer Marcos Valle is “Samba De Verão” from 1965, but he had his biggest hit in 1982 with the very catchy pop song “Estrelar”.
1989 – Fernando Luís Mattos da Matta, better known as DJ Marlboro, releases the successful album Funk Brasil, in which the music genre baile funk emerges from the shadows of the favelas and reached the general public for the first time.
2003 – Renato Ratier opens the now legendary club D-EDGE in São Paulo. With his club he puts Brazilian electronic music on the world map. A young Tessuto was one of his resident DJs.
Finally, a few very catchy Brazilian music classics that are maybe not the best, but are also part of the Brazilian music history. Some have reached the US and UK charts and probably sound familiar to you.