Some years ago, Brazilian country music was considered hick by a lot of people in the major cities of the country.
However, a recent wave of “Sertanejo Universitário” (College Country), a sub-set of the rhythm, has changed the view of many Brazilians from diversified background, including the middle class and metropolitan residents.
Despite the trend, no one expected that it would produce a global hit, but it happened. The single Ai Se Eu te pego (“Oh, if I catch you”) from the Brazilian singer Michel Teló got over 100 million views at You Tube. Since September, the catchy song was listed #1 in at least nine European countries.
MTV Latin America and Much More Music TV channels also showing tirelessly the music video clip. According to Forbes magazine, just Ronaldo, Gisele Bundchen and Ronaldinho Gaúcho are Brazilians more famous than Teló.
In the Brazilian music history, although the quality is often highly recognized by the critics, artists struggle to make an international hit. Usually, it happens when the songs get Spanish or English versions as in the case of Bossa Nova icon Antônio Carlos Jobim or Roberto Carlos's romantic songs.
Ricardo Pessanha, a specialist in Brazilian music history and author of the book “The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and The Popular Music of Brazil” (Temple University Press), thinks that the phenomenon is a result of the internet's fragmented market. Also, he believes that Teló was lucky. “We cannot deny he is lucky, but also he has tremendous quality and charisma”, said Pessanha.
One of the first international appearances of Ai Se eu te pego was when Real Madrid's Portuguese player, Cristiano Ronaldo, celebrated a goal dancing the song choreography. A lot of Real's fans were curious and wanted to know exactly what music it was. Also, other players like Santos's Neymar did the same goal celebration.
For the economist Ricardo Amorim, an expert consultant, commentator in emerging markets and former strategist at West LB Bank in New York, the international interest for Brazil is one of the factors for his success.
“Brazil is trendy worldwide. Of course, there is also merit for Teló who made a music and a dance that went viral”, affirmed Amorim.
Michel Teló was born in 1981 in Medianeira, a strong farming city in the state of Paraná, where his parents owned a bakery.
The Rei das Festas ( King of Parties) started his country music career in 1997 at the nationally known Grupo Tradição from the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, but left the band in 2008 to make his solo career.
He released his first solo album Balada Sertaneja in 2009, which resulted in many television appearances. “Ai se eu te pego” was launched as a single of his second album, Michel na Balada, last September. In an interview to Folha de São Paulo newspaper, Teló revealed his main dream: “I want to sing with Shakira”. It seems he is not far from accomplishing that.
So far, the singer has wider recognition in the United States within the Latino community. Pessanha says that's natural. “The American public is very demanding with non-Americans. I don't know if a concert of Teló today would be crowded in the US without Brazilians, but English versions of his songs would help a lot”, concluded.
At iTunes, Michel Teló tops the list of sales in Brazil, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Chile and is in the top 10 in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Germany, Austria and Israel. Versions of Ai se eu te pego have been translated to Hebrew and Polish, and there are funny parodies with a Donald Duck’s voice and jokes about Portugal's financial crisis.