From the looks of it, lightning can strike twice.
Earlier this year, Michel Telo's "Ai Se Eu Te Pego" (loosely translated to "Oh, If I Catch You") topped European and South American airplay and digital charts. It was propelled by the endorsement of popular Brazilian soccer players - namely Neymar, who plays for Barcelona and who would dance to the video's choreography after scoring goals. Telo's track eventually reached the United States where it sits atop Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart, a position it has held on and off for 10 weeks.
Now, a second Brazilian track, sung entirely in Portuguese and also endorsed by Neymar, is climbing European charts, and plans are under way to work it stateside as well.
Gusttavo Lima's "Balada" (loosely, "Party") has hit No. 1 in at least three European countries, including France and the Netherlands. On the chart dated June 23, it debuted at No. 2 in Italy, where the press is heralding it as the new summer smash and where for the week of June 10 it was the top download on iTunes. It was also No. 2 in Belgium, No. 3 in Switzerland and No. 4 in Austria. Overall, the track was No. 20 on the Euro Digital Songs chart.
On YouTube, the "Balada" video uploaded on Lima's page a year ago has amassed nearly 30 million views, in addition to nearly 15 million views of the same clip on another site and at least 30 million more views of different versions featuring the track set to various visuals.
In the United States, Sony Music Latin has recorded a remix with urban duo Dyland & Lenny that has just been sent to radio stations and is getting early airplay in Chicago, Miami and Puerto Rico.
"It will hit the top 10 in a month," says Nir Seroussi, GM of Sony Music Latin, which also licenses Telo in the States and produced the remix of "Ai Se Eu Te Pego" featuring Pitbull that has helped propel the track stateside. "That track ["Balada"] has been cooking for a while."
If "Ai Se Eu Te Pego" was an anomaly, the subsequent and rapid success of "Balada" in almost precisely the same manner is unprecedented. While this may not be the first time a Brazilian track performed in Portuguese hit No. 1 in foreign markets, it's certainly the first time a sertaneja song (Brazil's equivalent of country music) has achieved that feat.
"It was inevitable that people got curious about other songs with a similar feel," says Marcelo Soares, president of Som Livre, Telo and Lima's label, who calls the music "new Brazilian pop," or B-pop. "This interest came from the labels licensing music, and also from the general public that started looking for new songs on YouTube," he adds, noting that both artists released their tracks around the same time.
Like Telo, Lima was endorsed by Neymar - one of Brazil's biggest soccer stars - who also danced to "Balada" after victories on the field and who appears in a Lima live video, performing the song with him onstage. However, Soares says, as important as the soccer connection has been, "it would not have any effect at all were the songs not the big hits they are by nature."
Meanwhile, Soares is readying a new wave of acts poised to cross into Europe, including Joao Lucas & Marcelo with their song "Eu Quero Tchu, Eu Quero Tcha."
"It might seem a little hard to believe, but there are more than a few big hits on the way," he says. "European summer is just around the corner, and I'm pretty sure that it will be the perfect time for the next B-pop acts to appear."