We're not going to escape a Certain Sporting Event in Brazil for the next fortnight, so in the spirit of 'if you can't beat them, join them', I thought I'd share some of my favourite vintage music with a Brazilian theme. Just click on the title of each to listen to it on YouTube.
A Rainy Night in Rio – Dinah Shore
A little smoother than a lot of Latin music, being more a swing song with a Brazilian theme than an authentic Brazilian tune, this is a romantic, yet upbeat number. What do they do on a rainy night in Rio? The same as on rainy nights everywhere else, apparently. (As I am British and therefore an expert on what to do when it rains, I know this means the people of Rio settle down with a good book and a mug of cocoa.)
Cuanto le Gusta – The Andrews Sisters and Carmen Miranda
I love Carmen. I know there's a lot of debate nowadays about whether she should have emulated the look of the working-class, black Baiana ladies of Brazil, but the fact remains that she showed the wider world what a beautiful, unique place Brazil was, and that its people were also beautiful and unique. I'm in the 'more good than harm' camp when it comes to Carmen. Politics aside, this a ripping song that merges the harmonies of the Andrews sisters with Carmen's crisp diction and fast-paced delivery as all four talk about journeying somewhere exotic in search of a happy time and 'cabalheros with dark and flashing eyes'.
While there are lots of Carmen Miranda songs I could have listed here, this one was covered by diva maxima Miss Piggy in the George Burns episode of The Muppet Show. And if it's good enough for Miss Piggy, it's good enough for the rest of us mortals.
Chica Chica Boum Chic – Carmen Miranda
From the oh-so-appropriate-right-now film That Night In Rio. There's a clip on YouTube, so you can see La Carmen at her sparkly best.
Brazil – Xavier Cugat and His Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra
Okay, Cugat was a Spaniard who grew up in Cuba, but this tune was written by Brazilian composer Ary Barroso, and Cugat's version was a smash hit in the 1940s.
Dreamer – Astrud Gilberto
Ha! I bet you thought I'd include Gilberto singing The Girl From Ipanema in my five, didn't you? And I could have done, because it's a fantastic song. But it would have been too easy, and Gisele Bundchen has ruined it for me. (I'm sorry, but 'woman walking' is not fit entertainment for the planet, in my opinion, no matter how attractive many people find her.) Instead I'm recommending another song by the bossa nova star, a wistful ballad. Perfect for winding down to after you've samba'd your way through the others.
Have you a favourite vintage track with links to Brazil?
And, more importantly, who would win in a fight between Carmen Miranda and Miss Piggy? (Or is it only me who thinks about stuff like this?..)