At the time, Forbes estimated that Xuxa could boost her annual earnings to nearly $70 million, should her attempt to conquer America have succeeded. It didn’t. Her show on CBS was eventually cancelled due to low ratings and parents’ complaints regarding Xuxa’s ‘lack of clothing.’ Today, Xuxa is a fallen star even in her native Brazil, with her show being broadcast by Globo at the forgotten time slot of Saturday afternoons, often struggling to find an audience interested in watching a 48-year-old woman playing pranks with kids.
Several other Brazilian celebrities have tried without success to become A listers outside of their country. In the past few decades, though, only a handful of Brazilian stars such as supermodel Gisele Bundchen and footballers Ronaldo and Ronaldinho have managed to break that curse and become international household names. Given the country’s size and thriving pop culture, it is a wonder that, in terms of the global entertainment industry, the ‘Booming Brazil‘ is still far from a boom.
But that trend could be changing now, thanks to the Web. Following in the footsteps of Justin Bieber and Rebecca Black, 30-year-old Brazilian singer and composer Michel Teló can also be described as ‘an internet phenomenon.’ His biggest career hit to date, the catchy, repetitive song ‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego‘ (something like ‘Oh If I Get You’) has already been watched more than 94 million times on Youtube. It has been translated and subtitled into several languages including English, Polish, Greek and Hebrew.
The song is among the most played on world radio this year, and became a number one iTunes hit in countries such as Portugal, Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru (ironically, in Brazil Teló’s hit is only the second most downloaded on iTunes, after Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’).
With a list of high profile fans of his music that includes the likes of Rafael Nadal, who celebrated his Copa Davis win earlier this month to the tune of ‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego;’ Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, who danced the song’s choreography when he scored the first goal against Málaga FC on October 22, and Denver Nuggets’ stars Nenê, Rudy Fernandez, Danilo Gallinari, Al Harrington, Kosta Koufos, Timofey Mozgov and Julyan Stone, whose version of ‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego’ ended up on NBA’s official website, Teló, who’s represented by Universal Music, is a talented artist and a Brazilian superstar at last.
Telo is preparing an English version of ‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego,’ which should be launched next year during his European tour (he’s already scheduled to perform 12 shows in seven countries). In the meantime, he will keep busy travelling throughout Brazil, where he performed 220 shows in 2011, for a total public of 17 million people, and earning an estimated $18 million in the past twelve months.
Telo, a skilled musician who has been performing professionally since he was 12, is not the only Brazilian now eyeing an international career. Paula Fernandes, another Brazilian country singer whose latest album has sold over 1.5 million copies in Brazil, collaborated with Taylor Swift on a single to be released on January 3. Luan Santana, who’s only 20 and already commands the highest fee in Brazil’s country music scene — $160,000 per show — is also planning to launch internationally.
Brazil’s music stars are catching a rare good moment in the country’s music business. Although album sales for 2010 were down 13% from 2009 (and, prior to that, they’d been down an average of 8% every year through the 2000s, pointing to an incredible shrinking of the record industry), year-to-year comparisons have album sales for 2011 ahead of last year’s numbers, with the country genre in particular representing a good deal of the period’s upbeat music news.
Of course only time will tell if Telo will be able to reach beyond South American borders for good. For now, it seems like the world is indeed about to ‘get him.’ And fast.
Check out the video clip of ‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego,’ Teló’s hit song:
( FALA SÉRIO! QUE PORCARIA! LIXO DE MUSICA!)