Brazil's Best Movie Songs

by Brazil Club - Let The Music Take You There on 02/28/2018 - 03:41 pm

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Cinema Samba: Brazil Goes To the Movies                                                                  Image - uncredited       

Brazil Club 411: No clear winners for this year's run to the Oscar for 'Best Picture', but that's not the case with Brazilian soundtracks. Movie shorts? No way. When it comes to Blockbusters, Brazil grabs the spotlight.


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From The Twilight Saga to Fletch and Fast & Furious, it seems that just about every other movie plot leads to Brazil. That’s understandable: Rio is a great destination no matter the circumstance. Widen that vision to include the rest of the country and it’s easy to see that Brazil’s bigger-than-life reputation can easily accommodate everyone and everything from Demi Moore to James Bond, from high-speed bank vault heists to killer piranhas in the Amazon.

And that makes Brazil perfect for great movie soundtracks.

Bossa Nova’s siren call; the earthy elements of Samba or the contrast of driving percussion against the acoustic echo of a softly strummed guitar are all that are needed to fill this week’s sound stage for ‘Brazil Goes To The Movies’ and it’s been a lot of fun researching the songs for this show.

When Quincy Jones recorded his Big Band Bossa Nova album in 1962, little did he know that a crazy time machine would turn his song ‘Soul Bossa Nova’ into a groovy movie theme for Austin Powers. And I’m sure that a box office hit was the farthest thing from Sarah Vaughan’s mind when she recorded her version of ‘Corcovado’ with Q three years later. We found it on the Heartbreakers soundtrack.



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Love Songs? Nowhere Does It Better

There’s Astrud Gilberto, raising expectations for Renée Zellweger in Down With Love, and making her acting debut in Get Yourself a College Girl (We have the movie clip for that scene in the video box on the Brazil Club Lounge page). And did you know that Hugh Laurie had the lead in a Rio-based comedy just before he transformed prime time as Dr. Gregory House? We have the love theme from The Girl From Rio.

Even documentaries get into the act: the cameras were rolling for guitarist Larry Coryell when he brought his Brazilian band to the beach in Salvador, Bahia, and the Cannes Film Festival-winning Senna used a New Bossa tune to propel the story of Brazil’s greatest racing champion down the track.  Musical moments for The Sounds of Brazil this week.

How did all this ‘Brazil and the Movies’ stuff happen? Brazil has had some heavy hitters in its corner, and you can track this history back to a single man – and a woman.

The Part Where We Go Back In Time

Walt Disney made his way to Brazil as part of President Roosevelt’s ‘Good Neighbor Policy’ in 1941, and he didn’t go alone. American scriptwriters, animators and photographers spent several weeks in Rio de Janeiro to lay the groundwork for Saludos Amigos; an animated feature that introduced Donald Duck to his new Brazilian friend Zé Carioca (and the Samba) in the movie’s finale.  Check out these photos. It also introduced America and the rest of the world to what is perhaps Brazil’s best known song.

Walt Disney sought out Brazilian songwriter Ary Barroso to provide music for the film. That’s how we came to know ‘Brazil’ (Aquarela do Brasil). It’s original release in 1939 went largely unnoticed,  but Disney’s movie success turned the song into a giant pop hit here - by 1945 ‘Brazil’ had been performed more than two million times on U.S. radio and TV. Back in the day, those were J. Lo numbers.

The woman was Caren Miranda, who by the time Disney’s film had hit the big screen had already starred in a half a dozen Hollywood hits, including That Night In Rio and Week-End in Havana. Miranda was a true cultural force of nature and she was named as one of America’s most influential women in 1939. Decades later Woody Allen would resurrect one of her greatest hits for his film Radio Days.

And here’s some news: The lead animator of the Ice Age films, Carlos Saldanha returns to direct the sequel to his 2011 hit Rio. Set for its April 11th debut, Rio 2 reunites the voices of Jesse Eisenberg (as Blu) and Anne Hathaway (as Jewel). The storyline will revolve around the World Cup and the Amazon. And maybe you don’t know that Carlos Saldanha is a Brazilian American. Born in Rio de Janeiro, he now calls Hoboken, New Jersey his home.

So, now that the Academy Awards have passed, we have our own winner for ‘Best Motion Picture Songs With A Brazilian Theme’: You!

There go the lights (but please, leave your mobile devices on!)… enjoy the show.

Happy Listening

Scott Adams


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This Week on The Sounds of Brazil : 'Long Songs - The Winter Edition’

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