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The perfect soundtrack for exploring Rio de Janeiro

Because no guide to Rio de Janeiro would be complete without a soundtrack to explore the city, here are the top 10 albums to get you in the mood.

Renata Magalhães
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While Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes sang about the Girl from Ipanema, Claudinho and Buchecha brought the realities of the favelas to life. Anitta has taken the sounds of the suburbs global, Seu Jorge narrates the everyday life, and O Rappa exposes pressing social issues. The city itself is a character or inspiration in all these albums, making them the perfect soundtrack for a stroll through Rio de Janeiro. Turn up the volume, sing along, and embrace the vibrant spirit of each of these works.

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The perfect soundtrack for exploring Rio de Janeiro

Getz/Gilberto

Of course, "The Girl from Ipanema" had to make this list. Here, Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes' composition gets international fame. The duo teamed up with American saxophonist Stan Getz to record the track in English, with vocals by Astrud Gilberto, immortalizing it as a global hit. The album, released in 1964, popularized bossa nova worldwide, won a Grammy that year, and remains a best-seller in jazz history.

Getz/Gilberto, João Gilberto and Stan Getz (1964)

Sambista Perfeito

“Elegant like Paulinho, captivating like Martinho.” In a samba, Arlindo Cruz describes the perfect sambista. The track, which names the album, has become synonymous with the artist himself, showcasing his influences like Antônio Candeia and Geraldo Pereira. The album also features one of the most famous refrains in the genre: "Madureira, iá laiá," from the song “Meu Lugar.” Bet you’ve sung along.

Sambista Perfeito, Arlindo Cruz (2007)

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O Descobridor dos Sete Mares

The title track is a continuation of "Do Leme ao Pontal," composed and recorded by Tim Maia, celebrating our famous beaches. The city is once again revered in this album, with tracks like "Rio, Mon Amour," and other timeless classics like the emotional “Me Dê Motivo.”

O Descobridor dos Sete Mares, Tim Maia (1983)

América Brasil

Thinking of Rio de Janeiro brings to mind Seu Jorge, the perfect soundtrack for a sunny day in the city. In this album, he showcases his various musical influences, resulting in classics like “Burguesinha” and “Mina do Condomínio,” which were some of the most played songs in Brazil upon release.

América Brasil, Seu Jorge (2007)

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Com Você

This band is one of the pioneers of Brazilian rock and captures the spirit of a specific era: Rio de Janeiro in the early 1980s. This album is packed with classics perfect for exploring the city, such as "A Dois Passos do Paraíso," "Weekend," "Biquini de Bolinha Amarelinha Tão Pequenininho," and "Você Não Soube Me Amar," the epitome of Carioca style.

Com Você, Blitz (1994)

Sla 2 Be Sample

“City of wonder, purgatory of beauty and chaos.” This is how Fernanda Abreu, in collaboration with Fausto Fawcett and Laufer, described Rio in "Rio 40 Graus." Okay, three decades later, with global warming, the song might need a temperature update, but a classic is always a classic. “Jorge da Capadócia,” a cover of Jorge Ben’s song, also pays homage to São Jorge, our patron saint.

Sla 2 Be Sample, Fernanda Abreu (1992)

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Claudinho & Buchecha

The duo, formed by the late Cláudio Rodrigues de Mattos (Claudinho) and Claucirlei Jovêncio de Sousa (Buchecha), originated in São Gonçalo and charmed Brazil with their melodic funk. The title track captures the essence of youthful romance and the vibe of Rio's funk parties, mentioning various neighborhoods where these events take place. A celebration of this important Carioca culture.

Claudinho & Buchecha, Claudinho e Buchecha (1996)

Lado B Lado A

Named by Rolling Stone Brazil as one of the hundred best Brazilian albums, it features iconic songs like "Tribunal de Rua," "Cristo e Oxalá," "Minha Alma (A Paz que Eu Não Quero)," "Favela," and the title track. O Rappa’s third album echoes the social injustices of the peripheries and the political fervor of late 20th-century Rio.

Lado B Lado A, O Rappa (1999)

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Acústico MTV

The MTV Unplugged series started as a TV show but soon became a label that released historic albums, like this one that captures the career of the band Kid Abelha. Paula Toller, George Israel, and Bruno Fortunato sing hits like "Nada Sei," "No Seu Lugar," "Lágrimas e Chuva," "Na Rua, Na Chuva, Na Fazenda (Casinha de Sapê)," "Fixação," and many more.

Acústico MTV, Kid Abelha (2002)

Bang

A direct export from Honório Gurgel, our “Girl From Rio” is a source of pride for Cariocas (and all Brazilians, given her international success). "Bang" covers themes of love and female empowerment with catchy pop songs and an unbeatable Carioca vibe.

Bang, Anitta (2015)

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