and the (obvious) winners are…

The 10 best Portuguese songs ever made

For the Portuguese-speaking galaxy: it’s just what I think. For the non-Portuguese-speaking universe: turn down the Bieber and listen to some proper Music.

These are, in my humble opinion, the 10 best Portuguese musical acts I’ve ever heard.

10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfipKAPv5xQ

First things last!

They were pioneers in our country, in the 1950s. They taped this in Oporto and during the early-TV and non-Spotify age they were the ones who paved the way for artists such as Joaquim Costa (aka Elvis de Campolide, Os Conchas, Shegundo Galarza & Seu Conjunto) or José Cids’ Babies. Kudos for the ragtime revamp and the Marino Marini hommage.

9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0tE_r2CoBs

It’s a known fact that you can’t hit big in Portugal doing reggae or ska. Primitive Reason and Three and a Quarter would say “Fucking told you so”. So a young artist by the name of Ricardo tried out another way of doing stuff: to revamp the culture from 1950s Kingston, by means of Jamaican sound system (that in mid 50s became even more popular than live musicians).

This might not be vintage rocksteady or ska but stands alone as the first Portuguese riddim ever made. Richie Campbell then boomed into the mainstream scene but only after contributing to our music with this song.

8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZJI8ZYQAzo

And more from Oporto, this time with old-timers Blind Zero, aka our ‘Grunge Enthusiasts’. They sing in English and have in Miguel Guedes the driving force behind a steady band that powered ‘Trigger’ to the first Portuguese gold record of an English-singing band.

1994 was the year and Blind Zero were touted the NBT in Portuguese Music. Way too powered by the MTV that saw in them a band that could eventually cross borders, they would never peak this high again. ‘Trigger’ is a flawless album that I strongly recommend, to the Portuguese, to the French, to the Argentinian, even to that Trump-voting dumb fuck.

They are still on the road yet these were ‘the old Trigger days’…

7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlP42Eeb_wk

Hardly the best Da Weasel song. But that snare… and that trademark Virgul supporting vocal would turn out to be the hear-candy that Portuguese listeners would gorge on for the years to come. Da Weasel had their role in our songbook and I strongly believe this song took them to another level of stardom. Suddenly, a post-Kussondulola, less-Cruzfader and more mainstream form of hip pop (or pop rap, whatever floats your boat) was to be unleashed by Carlão and his gang.

Attention: these dudes are Not from Oporto.

6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRuacmhlAFI

Or Emir Kusturica on steroids. As they like to say, they were “invented, not created”. Amazing music, stellar live performances (always involving extravagant audiovisual mumbo jumbo) and all their records offer a wide range of music genres. They blast dub, reggae, folk, in terms of originality, they’re the ones to beat in this chart!

Also not from Oporto!

5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFCsbzp4LH0

He had written for many years. The time had come for the next step for Portuguese hip-hop. The year? 2006.

Samuel Mira (aka Sam The Kid) is your go-to grandmaster in terms of personal and social messages and music production. A tireless worker and über-gifted writer, his albums always give us something extra, something we never heard before.

You might recall an Abba sample in this song but ‘Pratica(mente)’ — his first official studio album, he previously recorded all his albums in his place — marks a ‘before’ and ‘after’ in the Portuguese hip-hop craft. The sparkling punchlines through his trademark flow and his strong opinions against the status quo — this song is aimed towards Portuguese musicians… singing in English! — make Sam The Kid one of Portugal’s most interesting and prolific musicians of our generation.

4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgBM_UvelqA

Portugal’s Joe Satriani. Hardly anyone around here knows his ass but Gonçalo Pereira could easily sit aside John Petrucci or Steve Vai. He’s one of those virtuosos you just can’t stop loving. His albums ‘G-Spot’ and ‘Serviços Secretos’ are absolutely mandatory for every guitar geek.

3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwhV1ivYNsQ

If you’re a tourist you probably heard this somewhere. If you’re not a tourist walking through Lisbon or Oporto and you don’t know this, you’re a sad sack because this is probably the most beautiful (Portuguese) guitar song ever made.

It reeks of Coimbra — Carlos’ legendary status would not be complete without the help of his father, Artur Paredes, someone must do a documentary on his father ASAP! — and it was composed in 1963 by a man that would later play with Charlie Haden and say something like this when he was facing death:

When I die my guitar will also die.

My dad used to say he wanted his guitar to be broken and buried with him when he passed away.

I wish to do the same. If I have to die

If these words don’t teach you something about Fado and Portugal, I don’t know which words will…

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA0-DxHfqgs

“Now you’re shitting with the door open!”. I am not.

Who’s to say that Rão Kyao, the Ramalho Ortigão descendant — he is, I just wikipedia-ed his ass! — should not earn a place between all these schmucks?

In a career spanning almost 10 more years than fucking Xutos & Pontapés Rão Kyao released more than 20 albums and this song is a Fado world tour that is a joy to listen and to behold.

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05sM_DX_FPQ

Sometimes, mainstream bands get the fame and fortune while others sit in the shadow. The shadow was to be the sitting place for the pillars of Ornatos Violetas’ short yet spectacular musical creation. Powerful lyrics, masterful melodics and wonderful full-band breakdowns (you could always hear more instruments in Ornatos’ B-sides) and with Manel Cruz at his peak, ‘Tempo de Nascer’ reminds us the brilliance and irreverence of a band that just had fun playing for our hearts and souls.

Who cares about the fucking radio anyway?…

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