Anitta Is Coming For All Of Your Awards

Marco Ovando

Anitta Is Coming For All Of Your Awards

Marco Ovando

If you pay attention to pop music on a global scale, you almost certainly already know about Brazilian pop star Anitta, who just released her fifth studio album, Versions Of Me, and whose ultra-catchy single “Envolver” recently made her the first artist from Brazil to hit #1 on Billboard’s Global Excluding US chart. Friday, she became the first Brazilian solo artist to perform at Coachella. But, as any recent profile will tell you, it’s taken Anitta (born Larissa de Macedo Machado) a full decade to achieve global recognition.

I see some career parallels with one of Anitta’s inspirations, Shakira, who became a sensation in the mid-’90s in her native Colombia, and in neighboring Latin American countries. But it also took five albums for Shakira to really pop in the US, and that was only after she wrote her 2001 effort, Laundry Service, in English. Fortunately, Anitta has not needed to do that. The immensely appealing Versions Of Me is trilingual, sung in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. It does, however, feature super producer OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder as executive producer, which couldn’t have hurt its crossover efforts. Also onboard are the the relentlessly poppy Norwegian production duo Stargate and “Despacito” producers Andrés Torres and Mauricio Rengifo, which, ditto. Featured players include Cardi B, Khalid, Myke Towers, Mr. Catra, Afro B, Saweetie, and more.

But before we dig too far into Versions Of Me, let’s get up to speed on Anitta. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Anitta began singing young, at just eight years old in the local church choir. Later, her stage name would be inspired by an older Brazilian TV show, Presença de Anita, in which the titular character aspires to wake up a different person every day. “She could be romantic, sensual, intelligent and crazy all at once,” Anitta recently explained to the New York Times, adding: “People have always wanted to define women: Is she the marrying type? Is she the type that likes to go out? But I can be both things, right?”

In the early 2010s, Anitta signed with indie label Furacão 2000 after funk Carioca producer Renato Azevedo aka Batutinha saw some videos of her singing online. (In 2010, she instantly gained visibility after posting a YouTube video where she’s singing into a deodorant stick.) Her first song released to local radio stations was a promotional single, “Eu Vou Ficar.”

Over the course of the next decade, Anitta’s star rose in Brazil, with 2013 single “Meiga e Abusada” become one of the country’s most-requested songs that year. The success of “Meiga e Abusada” led to Anitta signing a contract with Warner Music Brasil, and Anitta released her debut self-titled album that summer. It was an instant success, selling 40,000 copies in its first 10 days and earning Anitta her first Latin Grammy nomination.

From 2014 to 2019, Anitta released three more albums: Ritmo Perfeito, Bang!, and Kisses. In terms of influences, Anitta would cite numerous contemporary pop acts like Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Madonna, and Britney Spears, but also Brazilian girl group Rogue, Belle And Sebastian, Nina Simone, and música popular brasileira (MPB) singers like Gal Costa and Caetano Veloso. Her albums, though foundationally pop, cover a wide ground of genres, where funk carioca (a style of hip-hop originating from Rio de Janeiro), R&B, dance, electro pop, reggae, and reggaeton are all represented.

Based on the number of high-profile collaborations she’s done, crossing over has clearly been a priority for some time. And not just in the US or Europe, but everywhere. In 2015, Anitta joined Jota Quest and Nile Rodgers for “Blecaute,” and in 2016 she was featured on a remix of J Balvin’s “Ginza.” Also in 2016, she collaborated with Colombian singer Maluma on “Sim ou Não.” 2017 through 2019 saw another spate of collabs, this time with Iggy Azalea (Anitta’s first English single, “Switch”), Major Lazer (“Sua Cara”), Poo Bear (“Will I See You”), Alesso (“Is That For Me”), J Balvin again (“Downtown”), Sean Paul (“I’m Still In Love With You”), Swae Lee (“Poquito”), and too many more to name. OK, just a few more names: Ozuna, Black Eyed Peas, Luis Fonsi, Sofía Reyes, Rita Ora. Oh, and Madonna — Anitta featured on the Madame X track “Faz Gostoso.”

It’s also worth noting that Anitta performed at the 2016 Summer Olympics opening ceremony along with famed Brazilian artists Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil. And then there are the awards. Not only did 2019’s Kisses earn a nomination for the Latin Grammy Award for Best Urban Music Album, Anitta has won five MTV Europe Music Awards for Best Brazilian Act, and became the first Brazilian artist to win the award for Best Latin American Act.

All this is to say, Anitta’s leap to American superstardom is way overdue. With its nonstop hooks and slick production, Versions Of Me should cement her mainstream recognition. If it doesn’t, then I have to question whether or not listeners even have ears. “Envolver,” a thrumming reggaeton banger, sets the tone for the entirety of Versions Of Me, which is steeped in more dembow beats, particularly on the synth-lined Khalid collab, “Ur Baby” and the more aggressive “Gata” featuring former Plan B rapper Chencho Corleone.

Anitta also branches out without pivoting to the point of disjointedness. The saucy “I’d Rather Have Sex” is a sleek blend of hip-hop and electropop, with some mattress squeak sound effects thrown in for good measure. The baile funk-flecked, more minimalist “Faking Love” (featuring Saweetie) demonstrates how adept Anitta is at going hard and then pulling back. Later, Anitta ventures into full-blown power pop on the supercharged, Panic! At The Disco-sounding “Boys Don’t Cry.” Later, the Latin pop-leaning “Me Gusta” boasts an all-attitude verse from Cardi B, who promises: “Bad bitches me gu’tan todita’.”

Beyond success in streams, awards, and number ones, Anitta’s global visibility marks a real game-changing moment for Brazil itself. In addition to preconceived notions of baile funk, which critics at the 2016 Olympic Opening Ceremony dismissed as “favelada” (“slum” in English), as the New York Times reminds us, Brazil is currently run by a far-right government under president Jair Bolsonaro. In 2020, the Financial Times wrote how “Brazilians’ views on a spectrum of social issues, from abortion to gay marriage and the death penalty, have grown more conservative: On a scale of 0 and 1, the degree of conservatism in Brazil rose to 0.689 in 2018 from 0.657 in 2010, according to an index set up by pollster Ibope. Support for the death penalty, for instance, rose from 31 per cent to 50 per cent of those surveyed.”

So, for a Brazilian pop singer to identify as a feminist, identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, and make music about women’s intelligence and sensuality, well, that feels pretty exciting. If you haven’t been paying attention to Anitta, now is the time to start.

Urban Wyatt

CHART WATCH

Chris DeVille here with your weekly chart update, and it’s a fascinating one.

After a dour, stagnant winter on the Hot 100, we’re starting to get some big-splash singles. For the second week in a row, a young star has come crashing in with a #1 debut. Jack Harlow’s “First Class” begins its run at #1 today — Harlow’s first #1 debut, first #1 as a lead artist, and second trip to #1 overall following his appearance on Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby” last year. According to Billboard, “First Class,” racked up 54.6 million on-demand streams, the biggest streaming week for a song since Drake, Future, and Young Thug’s “Way 2 Sexy” debuted last September. Like “Way 2 Sexy,” “First Class” interpolates a former #1 hit — in this case, Fergie’s “Glamorous.”

Harlow’s new hit is the 60th song to debut at #1 in the chart’s 63-year history. Its arrival bumps the 62nd, Harry Styles’ “As It Was,” to #2. Glass Animals’ “Heat Waves” is down to #3, followed by Latto’s “Big Energy” at #4, Imagine Dragons and JID’s “Enemy” at #5, and the Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber’s “Stay” at #6. The rest of the top 10: Kodak Black’s “Super Gremlin” at #7, Doja Cat’s “Woman” at #8, Bieber’s “Ghost” at #9, and Lil Nas X’s “That’s What I Want” at #10.

Over on the Billboard 200, there’s a lot of action despite paltry overall consumption. Jack White, 42 Dugg & EST Gee, Fivio Foreign, and Camila Cabello all debuted albums in the top 10 this week, but none of them outpaced Lil Durk. The Chicago rap star’s 7220 returns to #1 for a second nonconsecutive frame. Per Billboard, it only tallied 47,000 equivalent album units, almost all of them via streaming. It’s the lowest total for a #1 album since A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s historically low reign three years ago. We came very close to another week at #1 for Durk’s pal Morgan Wallen, who guests on 7220 and whose Dangerous: The Double Album sits at #2 with 46,500 units. Yes, Morgan Wallen is on both of the two biggest albums in America.

After the Encanto soundtrack at #3 comes a #4 debut for newlywed Jack White. Fear Of The Dawn enters with 42,000 units including 39,000 in sales, making it the bestselling album of the week. It’s White’s fifth top-10 album as a solo artist, though he also has three each with the White Stripes, Raconteurs, and Dead Weather. Olivia Rodrigo and Drake are at #5 and #6 respectively.

EST Gee and 42 Dugg’s collaborative album Last Ones Left makes a #7 debut with 30,000 units including 3,500 in sales — the second top-10 album for each rapper. After Doja Cat at #8 comes Fivio Foreign at #9, debuting with 29,000 units and just 1,000 in sales for B.I.B.L.E. It’s his first top-10 release. Camila Cabello’s Familia starts with 27,500 units including 11,500 in sales, just barely eking her way to her third top-10 LP. And with that, I turn things back over to Rachel.

POP FIVE

Lizzo – “About Damn Time”
“It’s bad bitch o’clock.” “It’s thicc-thirty.” “Walkin’ in my Balenci-ecis.” “I’m way too fine to be this stressed.” I really can’t choose what my new favorite Lizzo-ism is, “About Damn Time” is so jam-packed. All I can say is, boy I missed her.

G-Eazy – “Angel”
This is a sweet tribute to G-Eazy’s late mother, who passed in November. Regardless of intention, I don’t think Eazy’s voice is particularly well-suited to serenading. “Angel” is an attempt at real sincerity, but ultimately just shmaltz.

SEVENTEEN – “Darl+ing”
13-member K-pop act SEVENTEEN have released their very first single in English, and while I think the first half of the track is forgettable, I really like the all-instrumental breakdown at the end.

Lauren Spencer-Smith – “Flowers”
TWIP alum Lauren Spencer-Smith has another breakup anthem for the ages, and I love the lyrics that call out this wishy-washy dude: “Took me over to your house to meet your family / Introduced me to them sayin’ that you’d marry me / Then you’d look me in the eye and say, ‘It’s just a joke.'” Do you see anyone else laughing, guy??

Conan Gray – “Memories”
Conan is Breakup Mode phase one (sweatpants, clutter, self-imposed isolation), and the result — a booming ballad — is actually quite affecting. The music video looks like a real fire hazard though.

NEWS IN BRIEF

  • Katy Perry and Jimmy Kimmel wrote a children’s song in a Jimmy Kimmel Live! bit. [YouTube]
  • Rihanna discussed her pregnancy in a new Vogue cover story. [Vogue]
  • Britney Spears’ ex-husband Kevin Federline “wishes her the best for a happy, healthy pregnancy,” his lawyer tells NBC News. [NBC News]
  • Nicki Minaj filed a motion against the “disgraceful” opposing lawyer in last year’s harassment case against her and her husband: “He should be severely punished.” [Billboard]
  • Mariah Carey announced a vocal Masterclass. [Instagram]
  • “Gangnam Style” singer Psy announced his first album in five years — Psy 9th — out 4/29. [Instagram]
  • Charlie Puth performed on Ellen. [YouTube]
  • Post Malone’s new album twelve carat toothache is coming next month, his co-manager revealed on Instagram. [Instagram]
  • Mark Ronson announced a new book, 93 ’Til Infinity, that will be a memoir, DJ study, and New York celebration. [AP]
  • Ava Max announced a new single, “Maybe You’re The Problem,” out 4/28. [Twitter]
  • Maren Morris joined John Mayer onstage in Nashville. [Instagram]
  • Charli XCX released a video for “Used To Know Me.” [YouTube]
  • Justin Bieber joined Daniel Caeser for “Peaches” at Coachella. [YouTube]
  • Lorde’s Connecticut and DC shows scheduled for over the weekend were postponed due to her laryngitis. [Mohegan Sun]
  • The K-pop girl group 2NE1 reunited during 88Rising’s set at Coachella. [Twitter]
  • Post Malone performed at Revolve’s party on the second night of Coachella and joined 21 Savage’s performance at the actual festival. [TMZ]
  • BTS have a new album coming 6/10. [Soompi]
  • Måneskin covered Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” at Coachella. [Twitter]
  • Rosalía announced a 15-nation world tour. [NME]

CLOSING TIME

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