Top 5 jingles in Brazilian presidential elections
Since 1989, the year when Brazilians had their first chance in decades to go to the polls, jingles are a huge part of the nation’s political culture. That is probably why spin doctors are so important here and often have more leeway to create some policies than ministers and old-time advisers. When candidates are using their free air time, which is guaranteed under Brazilian law, they also come up with songs to create that bond between them and the people. Some become so memorable that they are often revisited to give a comforting familiar sensation to voters. Others become symbols of what politicians think of themselves.
Here are my top five in chronological order. There are more jingles that belong to the Worker’s Party here not because of any affiliation; it is because their spin doctors have been acclaimed, even by the opposition, as being the best ones. I tried to translate the best bits of each of them.
1 – Lula lá (1989)
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva lost that election. Right-winger Fernando Collor won by narrow margin — he would be impeached a couple of years later. But this song was so good that everyone used to sing it at home. It has somehow been in every election since then — either literally or in reference. “Lula there”, of course, means Lula in the Presidency. The lyrics are still moving to some upset fans of his who sing this jingle to remember the days in which his party wasn’t powerful or involved in corruption scandals.
“Without any fear of being happy
I want to see him arrive
A star shines
Brazil is a child in happiness of holding each other
With all certainty
My first vote is for you
To make our star shine.”
2 – Fernando Henrique Cardoso levanta a mão (1994)
No one expected Cardoso to be candidate for the Presidency before the Plano Real, which stabilized the economy. But then it worked. This university professor that was planning to move to a farm and write his memoirs suddenly became the front runner for the presidential elections. Those were the Bill Clinton-James Carville years, so a lot of this video has those imported characteristics — oh, the now so trivial footage of the candidate with a pen in an office. But the jingle itself is very Brazilian — with a Northeastern accent from singer Dominguinhos. Since then Northeastern voices have become a must in Brazilian jingles. There are also references to freedom fighters, such as Tancredo Neves. Cardoso used it again, with minor changes, for his reelection campaign in 1998.
“It is in your hands, in my hands, in our hands
To make Fernando Henrique our president
It is in your hands, in my hands, in our hands
Brazil needs a lot of our strength
Raise your hand, raise your hand
Brazil needs you a lot
Raise your hand, raise your hand
It is Brazil that is going to win.”
3 – Lula contar estrelas (2002)
After losing three consecutive presidential elections, Lula decided to change his image to a part of the electorate. That’s when his “Lulinha peace and love” version came out — and it had to be shown in a jingle. Contar estrelas (Counting stars) is a very apolitical song, very optimistic if compared to the previous jingles of the Worker’s Party. This video is a work of Duda Mendonça, a spin doctor that is so good at what he does that Argentina’s Carlos Menem, at the peak of his unpopularity, hired him to do his tricks — and it worked. It is meant to draw middle class voters that wanted change, but not a government that would be too leftist or too critical of the Cardoso years.
“All you need is to want it (2x)
And that’s what will happen tomorrow
Have some faith and say Lula (2x)
I want Lula.”
4 – Lula de novo com a força do povo (2006)
After the mensalão scandal, which made him go through the risk of impeachment, Lula fought his isolation in Brasilia by going to the streets to meet average Brazilians that had voted for him. The new presidential routine was photo ops in favelas, rallies in isolated communities and speeches that sounded like stand up comedy to the poorest Brazilians. That’s how a man that looked doomed in the end of 2005 fought back to run for reelection. This jingle (not unofficial the video) was created by João Santana, Duda Mendonça’s finest pupil. It shows a bit of what gave Lula the power he had lost: most Brazilians who weren’t capable of dreaming big usually project their hopes on him. That is why the intro of the song has a typical migrant, just like Lula, saying “there is no use in trying to shut me up” and “when the people want, no one stops.”
“Brazil wants to move forward
With the first man of the people that is president
He knows how to govern with his heart
And he governs for all with justice and togetherness
He is the first president that has the soul and the face of the people
There are millions of Lulas living in Brazil
Men and women that fight day and night
For a country just and independent
Where the president is the people and the people are the president.”
“It is Lula again with the strength of the people.”
5 – Dilma deixo em tuas mãos meu povo (2010)
Not many Brazilians knew who Dilma Rousseff was in the beginning of 2010. Her profile was slowly raised by João Santana after she was hand-picked by Lula to be his successor. His chief of staff since 2007, Rousseff had clear difficulties to bring about any emotions i the average voter, even in the most hardcore PT supporters. Well, it didn’t matter much. Bidding farewell to a president that had more than 80% job approval was emotional enough for most Brazilians. This jingle makes it even clearer. The trick is that the first lines are sung as if it was outgoing president himself. It was easy to see average Brazilians crying when watching this on TV.
“I leave my people in your hands
And everything I loved the most
But I will only leave because I know
That you will carry on with what I did
My country will be better
And my people, happier
Just like I dreamed, like I always wanted.”
“Now the hands of a woman
Are going to show us the way
I am still missing him
But I am happy and smiling
Because I know my people now have a mother
Whose heart goes from Oiapoque to Chui.”
Any memorable jingles this time?. Bizarrely not. This is surely the oddest election I’ve witnessed, even in that regard.
P.S.> I tried to translate the lyrics with the closest possible meaning. Please, forgive any mistakes. I am sure there are some.