Best Brazilian Pop Albums of 2023
Photo: Vinicius "amnx" Amano | Unsplash

The 20 Best Brazilian Pop Albums of 2023

The Brazilian music industry is creating a pop scene that competes with the world’s biggest names. Get ready to enjoy the 20 best Brazilian pop albums of 2023.

When PopMatters published its Best Brazilian Pop Albums list in 2021, there was a feeling that Brazilian pop music was finally finding an identity to claim as its own. Of course, this was a process that started way earlier than 2021. It took the vision of artists like Anitta and the courage of artists like Pabllo Vittar to get there (not taking aside all the artists who paved the way for them). The 2020s are the culmination of a new golden era for Brazilian pop, where artists embrace their local cultures from many parts of Brazil, their accents, their gender identity, and their ambition.

The last three years have seen some of Brazilian artists’ boldest, most wilfully artistic projects. Even in Brazilian music festivals like Rock in Rio (a tradition of being an opportunity for Brazilians to enjoy a roster of international stars), local artists’ concerts easily outshined the international performances in 2022 and 2023. The artists and players of the Brazilian music industry are serious about creating a local pop scene that can compete with the biggest pop names in the world.

But international validation is not exactly the point. The Brazilian music market has always been self-sufficient. Music sung in languages other than Portuguese is still an exception in Brazil’s radio stations and music streaming charts. Still, we can’t help but wonder: can Brazilian pop become a force to be reckoned with globally?

It’s hard to say how much a non-Brazilian will get the magic of a lyric like “Eu já deitei no seu sorriso” (“I’ve lied in your smile”) from Marina Sena’s “Por supuesto”, or understand all the layers of gossip that make a song like Naldo and Melody’s “Love, Love” (a version of Chris Brown’s “Kiss Kiss”) come to life. But even worse is trying to rip off all the whimsical qualities of Brazilian culture to make the music more “accessible” to outsiders. Even if the magic of Brazilian pop relies on inside jokes, smart international music fans will join the party whether they know the language or not.

Get ready to enjoy these 20 best Brazilian pop albums of 2023.

20. Amanda Magalhães — Maré de cheiro

The word “afrobeat” is not often used in Brazil. However, the country has its own unique ways of making music based on its African heritage. Maré de Cheiro is Amanda Magalhães’ way: sweet pop founded in batuque with touches of samba (“Sambossa”) and even Brazilian funk (“O canto da gente”). Orixás and the seas of Brazil inspire the lyrics, and Magalhães sings them with smoothness and ease. Maré de Cheiro flows by like an unpretentious siren song.

19. Karen Francis — Anos Luz

Anos Luz is Karen Francis’ debut album, but her vocal interpretations already show deep maturity. Rooted in R&B, it shines in ballads like “Fala” and in danceable yet still soulful moments like “Confissão (remix)”. In “Expectativa”, bright chords contrast with sad lyrics. Anos Luz is promising in its near simplicity.

18. Capim-Limão — Todo Azul

The indie pop of Capim-Limão puts a pastel palette over genres like samba, rock, and reggae in Todo Azul. The outcome is a soulful and soft midterm between the generic pop of Melim and the alt-rock of Los Hermanos. In all moments, it is gorgeous and graceful, and in its most inspired moments (“Não Saio”, “Pois Bem”, “Ginga Ialô”), it stands out for its MPB melodies’ style.

17. Kynnie — 93

Few things say “I’m ready to be Brazil’s next pop star” better than having Pablo Bispo and Ruxell in your album credits. Kynnie has them in multiple songs across 93. But the charismatic pop songwriting of the Brazilian duo is just the background of Kynnie’s potential showcased in her debut album. 93 is way more fun when it doesn’t take itself too seriously (like in “Pegada de Vilã”) than when it tries too hard to embrace worn-out conceptions of empowering lyrics (like in “Regressão”).

“Sentir Saudade” sounds nostalgic to those who grew up with Brazilian ’90s pop that incorporates elements of soul and R&B (Fat Family, Maurício Manieri, etc.), while “Sem Tédio” follows the modern identity that the genre has in Brazil. Overall, 93 achieves what an artist’s first album is supposed to, but Kynnie is tailored for much more and better than that.

16. Gloria Groove — FUTURO FLUXO

FUTURO FLUXO aims to be a vision of what Brazilian funk can sound like in the future. The execution does not live up to the project’s ambition, but it works well for a test of Gloria Groove’s versatility. The album romanticizes the deconstruction and experimentation in the underground funk scene by using corny titles like “PLANETA OUSADIA” (“Planet Boldness”) and “MODO XUXA” (a reference to the Brazilian singer and host Xuxa, the queen of children’s entertainment). The type of melodies and vocals that made Gloria Groove one of Brazil’s most interesting pop stars can be found in songs like “AO SOM DO TUIM”, “BARULHADA”, and “PROIBIDONA”.

FUTURO FLUXO alternates between moments of mere creative exercise and truly enjoyable tracks. In a synthesis, it stands out in Gloria Groove’s discography and will not go to waste in a dance club. 

15. Mateus Carrilho — Paixão Nacional

There’s a specific Brazilian pop identity that Mateus Carrilhos explores almost to boredom in Paixão Nacional. But if Carrilho feels so comfortable exhausting that template, it’s mainly because he helped build it. Carrilho is a former member of Banda Uó (active from 2010 to 2018), whose influence in both alternative and mainstream Brazilian pop is felt to the current day.

Paixão Nacional is opened by a mix of bossa nova and Brazilian funk. The first track announces the album’s purpose of reconciling diverse facets of Brazilian music and letting the rawest ones win. Paixão Nacional is a tour across various expressions of Brazil’s most passionate genres. There’s Brazilian funk in “Sedento”, forró in “Beijar sua boca”, and “Coração de biscate”. “Boate qualquer” is an interesting pagode with touches of 1930s radio MPB. “Rio de Janeiro” is a Sergio Mendes-inspired funk bossa.

Such a mix and re-interpretation of genre stereotypes would’ve been groundbreaking if it wasn’t what Carrilho has been doing forever. Except that now he wants to be as loud as he can about it. And why shouldn’t he? In a time when Brazilian pop is finally making peace with its roots, it’s only right that Carrilho cements his role in that process. 

14. Bule — dançando sem ninguém me ouvir

To describe the sound of Bule as tropical retrofuturism makes it look more conceited than it actually is. What dançando sem ninguém me ouvir offers is a tranquil, ’80s garage party synthpop with a delicious Brazilian Northeastern accent. Not that it achieves little: Bule’s reimagination of the genre and generational aesthetic is original, pretty, and fun. 

Melody-wise, some songs in dançando sem ninguém me ouvir feel like MPB, while the album’s production remains faithful to 1980s synths. The music from that decade influences dançando sem ninguém me ouvir in more ways than one (“vinte e muitos anos” is an obvious reference to Fábio Júnior’s “Vinte e poucos anos”).

13. Jão — SUPER

Jão is both a product and a pusher of the sadboy type of singer-songwriter archetype. But this is more than just a label for him. Jão has been thoroughly honing his songwriting craft since he broke from a YouTube cover singer to an authorial artist.

SUPER is as hyperbolic as Jão can be. His lyrics are intense, but he sings like he’s holding something back; the melodies have an explosive feel, but the beats never really take off. He’s dramatic, but only to a degree. It may feel incomplete at times, but it’s done so consistently that it works. Yet the moments where Jão lets his dramatic side prevail (“Maria”, “Escorpião”, “Super”) still outshine the optimistic songs (“Alinhamento milenar”).

Like every good pop songwriter of fragmented times, Jão balances a sing-along type of pop with subjectivity and personalism. Add a few lyrical motives repeating across the entire album (the lyric “I don’t feel bad, I just don’t feel anything” appears in different songs, taking different meanings), and boom, what you have is an album ready to become a brand. If anyone ever doubted that Jão lacked the strength to be a pop star, SUPER is how he shows that his fragility can have universal appeal. 

12. Julio Secchin — Erupçando

Erupçando is straightforward in its lyrics about love, sex, and casual love and sex. Yet the sentiment that remains after the entire listen is romance.

Sassy yet classy, Erupçando is a poetic endeavor by Julio Secching. Axé and samba are the genres driving most tracks “A menina que eu gosto”, “Yoshi”, “Contra Axé”), but the album surprises by featuring Miami bass in “Ouvindo Poze”.

11. Jaloo — MAU  

MAU does not fail in bringing Jaloo’s best qualities: insane creativity, an exaggeration of the humor and sensuality of brega music, and a commitment to tecnobrega and other variants of Brazilian Northern, Amazonic music. But this album experiments more with the foundations of the genres Jaloo usually explores in tracks like “Ah!” and “Phonk-me”. 

“Profano” and “Tudo passa” are synthpop versions of the beat patterns of forró and brega, while “Pra quê amor” is an explicit piseiro song. “Quero te ver gozar” is a recklessly sexual approach of carimbó. For things like these, Jaloo remains a much-needed presence in the Brazilian alternative pop scene.