What Is the Most Popular Music in Brazil?

When talking about Brazilian culture, we can’t help but discuss its music at great length. It is so vast and varied, its lyrics are rich with the country’s history and filled with socio-political influences, yet it is usually upbeat and soothing to the ears. To top it all, Brazil has its very own unique genres of music that have often impacted the international pop scene. But before we dive into the popular genres and artists, let us take a look at the history and evolution of the country’s music.

Origins of Brazilian Music

The music of Brazil has been influenced by many different cultures over the years. The Native Americans introduced a number of musical instruments to the Brazilians, like the rattle. The African slaves in the late 16th century brought along their drums accompanied by their sensual dance forms. Modern forms of instruments like the ukulele, guitar, and mandolin were popularized by the Portuguese. It was much later (post the 1910s-20s) that the European dance forms and musical genres seeped into Brazilian rhythms.

Traditional Music Styles of Brazil

The one music genre of Brazil that is bound to come to your mind is samba. Another style you may know about is the bossa nova. But there are several other local styles and genres that form the essence of popular music in Brazil. Let us take a brief look at each.


Samba is synonymous with Brazil’s music today. However, did you know that the word itself didn’t exist a couple of centuries ago, much less the musical genre? Unless you count the ancient Brazilian art form or the son of Krishna (a powerful Hindu god), of course! Samba was initially referred to as a popular Brazilian dance form in the 19th century. It was only in the early 1900s that the musical genre originated.


Heavily influenced by the African Brazilians of Rio de Janeiro, samba is deeply rooted in Brazil’s folk traditions. It is said to be a turning point in the musical scene of the country. The list of samba artists has been rapidly growing over the decades, and these days, the musical genre is popular not only in Brazil, but in several other parts of the world too.

Bossa Nova

Bossa nova appeared relatively late on the music scene of Brazil, in the late 1950s, but it packed quite a punch. It can be considered to be a subgenre of samba and not a genre in itself. It was developed in a time when traditional samba music had almost made way for several other modified styles. The year 1959, in particular, beheld the rise of the classic bossa nova beat, with several renowned Brazilian musicians, including the creator, Milton Banana, vigorously promoting the style.


Axe was developed even more recently, in the 1980s in Salvador, Bahia. It was around the same time that the metal scene in Brazil came to the fore, but more on that later. Axe is among the most popular music in Brazil. It is a combination of various Caribbean musical genres like reggae and marcha. Brazil’s original music like forro and frevo is also used to prepare the fantastic concoction called Axe!


This music style was born in the 1920s in the Brazilian countryside, but it only became popular throughout Brazil post the turn of the millennium. And today, it forms the pinnacle of Brazilian country music. The various styles of sertanejo include sertanejo raiz, funknejo, and sertanejo romântico. Its basic set of instruments are drums, guitar, keyboard, and violin.


Tropicalia music emerged from the Tropicalismo artistic movement of Brazil in the 1960s. While the movement didn’t last long, its music endured. Brazilian and African music styles were fused with American psychedelia and rock to give rise to Tropicalia. It may have been used to promote an important social cause in the past, but today, it has managed to evolve the music scene of Brazil into yet uncharted waters.

Brazilian Tropicalia Music

Funk Carioca

A hip hop style of music that became wildly popular in the 1980s, and continues to gain international recognition to this day, funk carioca is influenced by Miami bass and gangsta rap. As you may have guessed, rapping remains its integral part, but it also uses instruments like drum machines and synthesizers.

Honorable mention: Brazilian metal music. The Brazilians have made a long-standing mark in the international thrash metal scene through their heavy headbanging bands like Sepulchura, Ratos de Porao, and Sarcofago.

What Do Adults Listen to in Brazil?

Adults have preserved the original musical flavor of Brazil while also indulging in some popular international genres. Did you know that around half the Brazilian adult population loves to hum sertanejo music? But they haven’t given up on their samba yet, and they often dance to the music at various festivals.

When it comes to international music, Brazilians simply adore rock, their very own folk-fused versions as well as the globally acclaimed bands. So if you’re looking to break the ice and begin a conversation with someone at a bar or cafe, ask about their playlist, and you’re sure to find something to your liking in there. If they ask you to dance, suggest any EDM track to the DJ, and they will definitely be impressed!

Top 10 Brazilian Music Artists and Performers

We finally come to the part which helps you boost your knowledge about the music in Brazil down to every popular artist. The Brazilians are more performers than musical artists, and you should watch their official videos to get a feel of the song. So without further ado, here are the top 10 musicians that you need to watch and listen to.


1. Caetano Veloso

Veloso is a living legend of the Brazilian music scene. He was one of the pioneers of the Tropicalismo movement of the ‘60s, primarily featuring in its musical arena. The movement managed to make a considerable impact during its short tenure, but Veloso was arrested soon after its dissolution and exiled from Brazil.

Eventually, it was the dictatorship that came to a close, mostly thanks to Tropicalismo’s contributions, and Veloso landed back in Brazil, taking the country by storm by renewing the wave of Tropicalia music. He continues to enhance the country’s music scene to this day.

2. Elis Regina

A Brazilian pop and jazz icon whose music transcended her shocking, untimely death at the age of 36. Elis Regina’s unique, sensuous voice ensnared many hearts in the ‘60s and the ‘70s. She managed to effectively invigorate Brazilian pop, bossa nova, and tropicalia as well. Listen to her album, Tom & Elis, if you don’t believe us!

3. Tom Jobim

Known as Antonio Carlos Jobim as well, Tom Jobim is widely regarded as the father of bossa nova. He began as a music composer, only to later become one of the most acclaimed singers and instrumentalists of Brazil. He eventually collaborated with several renowned American artists to internationalize bossa nova.

4. Vinicius de Moraes

A child is always born of two parents, and the other father bossa nova was Moraes. He often collaborated with Jobim to devise some of the best Brazilian songs of the generation. Ever heard of A Felicidade?

5. Joao Gilberto

Since bossa nova is such a complex genre of music, there is a third parent as well. A pioneer of the style, Gilberto was the O Mito (The Legend) of music in native Brazil. He often collaborated with Jobim and Moraes to create some of the finest bossa nova music of the century.

6. Chico Buarque

Quite like the famous Brazilian musicians of the generation, Buarque was also exiled from the country for being part of the Tropicalismo movement. And soon after, he came back with a bang to influence Brazilian pop with international jazz and rock.

7. Gilberto Gil

If there are two fathers of bossa nova, then there are two of the tropicalia as well. Gilberto Gil is the second after Caetano Veloso. He also won quite a few Grammy awards during his time.

8. Marisa Monte

When it comes to the new age of Brazilian singers, you simply cannot overlook the outstanding contributions of Marisa Monte. One of the finest performers of Brazilian pop and samba, she has won a number of national and international awards over the years.

9. Roberto Carlos

The name was made much more famous by a Brazilian singer in the ‘70s before the footballer made his mark on the playing field. Carlos, the singer-songwriter, is the irrefutable King of Latin Music. His reign lasted for two whole decades (‘70s and ‘80s) before it inevitably fizzled out.

10. Jorge Ben

The final name on our list is one of the innovative musicians in the world of all time. Regarded as the father of samba rock, Jorge Ben famously contributed also to the tropicalia and bossa nova genres.


As you may have noticed, while many Brazilian musicians are quite famous worldwide, popular Brazil music in the local areas remains the traditional samba and bossa nova. Thus, you won’t particularly feel out of place if you were to groove to a Jobim or a Gilberto on your phone at a city or countryside pub. An approach or two is guaranteed!