Popular Music


Adopting imports: new images and alliances in Brazilian popular music of the 1990s1

Cristina Magaldi

Anyone visiting Brazil today in search of an idealised ‘Brazilian Sound’ might, at first, be disappointed with the popular music scene. The visitor will soon realise that established musical styles such as bossa nova and MPB (Música Popular Brazileira (Brazilian Popular Music)), with their well-defined roles within the Brazilian social and political scene of the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, have lost their immediate appeal with some contemporary audiences, and especially with Brazilian urban youth. In the 1990s, Brazilian radio and TV are saturated with a variety of new local genres that borrow heavily from international musical styles of all kinds and use state-of-the-art electronic apparatus. Hybrid terms such as samba-rock, samba-reggae, mangue-beat, afro-beat, for-rock (a contraction of forró and rock), sertaneja-country, samba-rap, and pop-nejo (a contraction of pop and sertanejo), are just a few examples of the marketing labels which are loosely applied to the current infusion of international music in the local musical scene.


1 This paper is an expanded version of a paper delivered at the UCLA Latin American Center in May of 1996. I would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Guggenheim Foundation, which made possible my research trip to Rio de Janeiro in 1997 and the non-teaching time necessary to expand and revise this work. I am thankful to Keith Scott, Raymond Knapp, Ludwig Lauerhass, Randal Johnson, and Susan McClary who graciously offered suggestions and insights in earlier drafts.