Brands, ‘Bolas’ and Bossa Nova – Why Brazilian culture is here to stay

Geoff Hurst scoring the winning goal for England in 1966, Zidane head butting Zanetti in the 2006 Final.. these are iconic moments in World Cup history that remain our favourite talking points years after they happened. But do you still find yourself using the limited edition Argentinian-themed whistle toy from your favourite cereal box way back in ’78, wandering around the house in your football slippers from France 1998 or debating which one of your  football shirts ‘personally signed’ by Robert Baggio from Italy 1990 to wear?

Though it goes without saying that the World Cup’s nature as a “marketer’s dream” has always come as a result of an increased interest surrounding the host country, the fact that the 2016 Olympics will also take place in Rio will lead to us consumers indulging in all things Brazilian for a very long time. Aside from simply being a sporting tournament, events such as the World Cup and the Olympics have always relied on the universality of music as a medium to generate hype and introduce the best of its culture to the rest of the world. It might even be worth debating that the musical aspects of these events are crucial in providing a legacy once they are over: who can forget the dulcet tones of the vuvuzelas during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (no matter how hard we try..) or the magic union of Mr Bean and the London Symphony Orchestra performing “Chariots of Fire” at the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony?

This particular sporting event, however, is different. This is because the World Cup’s principal components – football and music – are already considered to be the biggest assets of  modern Brazilian culture. Since the beginning of the World Cup , Brazil has cultivated somewhat of a legendary status: having won five times and by being the only country to have participated at every tournament, as well as being to home to many players regarded as the greatest footballers of all time – such as Pele, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho – it would not be an exaggeration to say that entire generations of men in the UK and the world have been inspired and influenced by Brazilian football. It will take more than a little own-goal in the first five minutes in the first match of the tournament to tarnish this country’s reputation..


In terms of music, as we do with fashion and food, the drizzle-filled days we experience in the UK have always led us to aspire to all things south of the Tropic of Cancer to get us in the mood for the summer months, something which brands are taking full advantage of. We’re already been exposed to Byron Burger’s Ronaldo burger, Volvic’s Tropical Fruits flavoured water, and OPI Nail Art Spring Summer 2014 range, dedicated entirely to Brazil.  That being said, it won’t be long before we’ll see these summery products falter away from our street signs once the World Cup ends and the leaves start falling on the ground.

The same might not be necessarily said about music: along with the usual suspects waving the musical flag for Latino music –namely J.Lo and Pitbull in the official song “We Are One (Ole Ola)” – we are now witnessing  big names in the current UK music scene partaking in the hype by experimenting with their own Latino-influenced sounds. Ever one to be at the forefront of any trend, Fatboy Slim’s decision to release his EP “Bem Brasil” comes as a result of his intention to provide the “unofficial soundtrack for summer’s biggest event”. Rather than seeing it as a marketing strategy, others have instead used the World Cup with the aim to re-ignite our passion for Brazilian-influenced music and ensure that it continues even after the days become shorter and the barbecues die out. Self-proclaimed Brazilian music aficionado Gilles Peterson’s desire to depict an ‘inspirational portrait of a nation in sound’ comes in the form of his new EP ‘Sonzeira – Bam Bam Bam’, starring a collective of Brazil’s finest musicians – including a certain Seu Jorge.

The timing of the EP’s release can’t be purely coincidental, yet Peterson credits his lifelong admiration for the Brazilian music scene for its conception: ‘What is a French boy, living in South London, doing putting up aerials at the age of 15 so he can play batucadas on pirate radio? Why was I doing that? Where did that come from?’ Though the two DJs have seemingly different reasons for integrating Brazilian music in their latest musical offerings, it will be interesting to see if their own influential statuses in the UK music scene will result in other artists following suit, ensuring that Brazilian beats will remain a ruling presence in our playlists not only during the World Cup but also in the lead-up years to the 2016 Rio Olympics.


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