5 Os Amantes – Os Amantes [Elemess]
This was a prolific year for the indie producer and singer Jaloo. Not only was he present in two other albums in this list (Tuyo’s and Gaby Amarantos’), he also joined the duo Strobo for the musical project, Os Amantes. The outcome of such an encounter is pure magic. Their first album, Os Amantes, is a hot, colorful mix of genres such as carimbó, lambada, brega, rock, and synthpop.
This is music that depicts a different side of the tropicality that Brazil is known for. Instead of the sea beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Os Amantes is the soundtrack for the river beaches near the Amazon Forest, and the islands of Marajó and Cotijuba. “Cotijuba” is one of the best tracks in the album.
The unique guitar playing style from the musicians’ native place makes the instrumentals just as interesting as the vocals. Os Amantes is the musical equivalent of tasting a popsicle of açaí, cupuaçu or bacuri (Brazilian Amazonic fruits) on a summer day.
4 Linn da Quebrada – Trava Línguas [independent]
Multimedia artist Linn da Quebrada is constantly challenging herself and her audience. Trava Línguas is no less provocative and versatile than anything else she creates. The album ranges from R&B to reggaeton but thrives with its lyricism.
The poetic potential of the Portuguese language is explored in all its beauty in songs like the drum ‘n’ bass “Onde”. On the other hand, “I Míssil” is a wordplay with the English phrase “I Miss You”. Meanwhile, “Eu matei o Júnior” uses speech figures to shock listeners.
Even if you don’t understand what Linn is singing about, Trava Línguas provides a great listening experience. Trava Línguas is equal parts a poetry soiree and a party. It’s elegant in tracks like the jazzy “Medrosa”. It makes you dance in tracks like “Dispara” and “Pense & Dance”. In all ways, the album is a feast for the ears, mind, and body.
3 Duda Beat – Te Amo Lá Fora [independent]
Duda Beat’s second studio album, Te Amo Lá Fora, marks a turning point for the singer and songwriter. Once an indie diva transitioning into a mainstream pop star, Beat is now taking the reins to make gallery art out of her career.
The innate joy of Brazilian genres such as brega funk and pisadinha takes a cold turn at the hands of Beat. She paints her artworks with colors of magical realism and a touch of psychedelia. In tracks like “Meu Pisêro” and “Nem um Pouquinho”, Beat’s nonchalant vocals contrast with dancing beats. There’s a clear, deliberate distortion of the elitist lines separating fine arts and peripheral culture, to the point that they cease to exist in Te Amo Lá Fora.
The music in Te Amo Lá Fora also incorporates synthpop and alternative R&B in tracks like “Melô da Ilusão” and “50 Meninas”. It’s an approach that might please fans of artists like Kali Uchis, Sabrina Claudio, or Lana Del Rey, while also sounding naturally Brazilian. In Te Amo Lá Fora, Duda Beat is aiming for an artsy, conceptualistic perspective of regional pop. The outcome is the most glamorous Brazilian pop album of the year.
2 Pabllo Vittar – Batidão Tropical [Sony Music]
Batidão Tropical is a pop repackaging of the forró and brega sounds that took North and Northeast of Brazil by storm in the early 2000s. In the voice of Pabllo Vittar, Brazil’s most beloved drag queen, these songs are everything pop music is about. They’re catchy and fun, they have the power to make you feel good and to bring people together. The album encapsulates the unmatched humour and energy of Brazilians. No wonder “Zap Zum” became an unofficial anthem of the Brazilian male volleyball team at the Olympic Games.
To be fair, the merit in Batidão Tropical is not entirely Vittar’s, as six of the album’s tracks are covers. But it’s also true that no other artist could have done it like Vittar. Her vocals, charisma, visibility, and cultural background make her the perfect artist for such a tribute on a national level. Even to someone unfamiliar with the exhilarating electronic beats of tecnobrega, tracks like “Apaixonada” and “Ultrassom” will sound fresh and exciting. But the original tracks, such as the sassy “Triste com T”, are on-brand for Vittar.
Batidão Tropical has symbolic weight in how it timely celebrates some of the most creative and joyful sides of Brazil. Even to those who may not feel represented by it, Batidão Tropical fulfills its purpose of making people sing and dance. As pop fans, what else can we ask for?
1 Marina Sena – De Primeira [Alá Comunicação e Cultura]
A star is born? Actually, Marina Sena has been shining for a while. She just fell under the radar while working on projects such as the awesome band Rosa Neon. But with her solo debut, De Primeira, Sena made sure she’s not one you want to miss. She goes from playful to theatrical, commanding attention as she leads the listener with the highs and lows of her voice. The vocals, by the way, are a show apart: Sena’s timbre recalls Gal Costa with more vibratos. But don’t be fooled by any comparisons: Sena is a natural star made in her own mold.
In De Primeira, she oscillates between not taking herself too seriously, and betting heavily on her own potential. Mixing tropical beats (reggae, axé) with glam rock, she sounds carefree and ambitious at the same time. Tracks like the sexy “Me Toca” are effortlessly fun. But in “Cabelo” and “Amiúde”, you’ll be convinced that Sena is not here to just joke around.
She’s an all-around singer and performer, backed up by excellent songwriting and production. The world is responding to her music: Sena’s song “Por Supuesto” went viral on Spotify and TikTok. It’s easy to say Sena is the moment, but she’s more than that: she’s the future.