The story of "Desafinado", a parody song that became the hallmark of bossa nova

Unfortunately, Gilberto's earliest recordings have been removed from the market following legal wrangling and remain largely unavailable...

How the Taunt Song Became a Jazz Standard - The Desafinado Story

"Desafinado" - widely known throughout the world musical creation of the composer António Carlos Jobim. Written in words Newton Mendoza in the late 50s, for the first time the composition was performed Joao Gilberto! The most interesting thing about this song is its title: in Portuguese, the word "desafinado" means "out of tune" and also "false", which refers to the notes. The song got such a peculiar name for a reason: Carlos Jobim originally conceived it as a parody, a mockery of some singers from the bars of Rio de Janeiro, whose performance sometimes seemed rather wrong! These musicians now and then did not get into the key, or even into the rhythm, but they pretended that it was necessary - "this is the style." "Desafinado" was a response to critics who argued that bossa nova was a new genre for singers who couldn't sing. However, over time, the comic song turned into a real hit: "Desafinado" has become not only the hallmark of the bossanova style, but also the generally accepted jazz standard! Let's take a look at her story.

The prehistory of the ironic hit

António Carlos Jobin
António Carlos Jobim

Portuguese word "Desafinado", meaning "fake" is a really strange name for a classic bossa nova hit, let alone a jazz standard. But everything becomes clear, it is worth delving a little into the history of the song.

The composition was born in 1958, and it was written by the composer António Carlos Jobim into words Newton Mendoza. The song was conceived as a parody of bar singers in Rio de Janeiro who were out of tune and out of rhythm. First performer "Desafinado" became Joao Gilberto! It was these studio sessions that turned out to be key for Jobim and made the Brazilian composer the founder of the bossa nova style.

Lyrics and "zest" of the song

António Carlos Jobin
António Carlos Jobim

"Desafinado" was a response to critics who argued that bossa nova was a new genre for singers who couldn't sing. Although the dissonance in the composition is limited to the standard blues flat heel, the lyrics draw a parallel between the lack of harmony in the music and discord in human relationships. The song depicts a man chasing a beautiful, perfect woman, but all his actions and achievements are interpreted as inappropriate!

"If you persist, arguing
that my performance has nothing to do with music,
I, having lied, will have to answer you,
that this is bossa nova, and this music is very natural…”

Listeners may notice slight differences in the lyrics between recordings as there are two sets of English words that replace the original Portuguese. The first English texts were written Joe Henderson. The lyrics by Gene Lis, while not a direct translation, more accurately reflect the original Portuguese.

How popularity came

Stan Getz
Stan Getz

Popularity came to the song only in 1961 year after "Desafinado" was performed Dizzy Gillespie at the Monterey Jazz Festival!

"We'd love to play the number we chose - the one we stole - in Brazil," Gillespie joked before performing the track in his own interpretation with a two-bar samba pulse.

Subsequently Stan Getz contacted Gillespie and eventually produced the record "Desafinado" 1962. This version featuring Charlie Bird soared up and reached 15th place in Billboard Top 100.

Recognition and other popular versions

"Desafinado" first became a hit in Brazil and then spread to the United States. Although the popularity "The Girl from Ipanema" Jobim sometimes overshadowed by "Desafinado", the latter piece is still popular among musicians. The composition was recognized by the Brazilian edition Rolling Stone 14th biggest Brazilian song.

Recordings by Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra also contributed to the popularity of "Desafinado".

Unfortunately, the earliest recordings performed by Gilberto were removed from the market following legal wrangling and remain largely unavailable.

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