I'm no fan of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. I think it does more to stifle artistic expression than anything conceived since Marxism went out of style. It does make some people very rich though.

My problem with the DMCA is that it keeps people from sharing their music and thus stifles one of the most important avenues of creative exchange in history. Think of the blues without artists sharing their lyrics. Think of the 60's without people making it big singing Dylan, Willie Nelson, Gordon Lightfoot or Kris Kristofferson covers. Nowadays you can't do that without shelling out millions of dollars, forget sampling someone else's music for a techno album. Even playing these songs as a coffeeshop musician is getting nearly impossible, as I have personally discovered.

But just when you think everything is going down the tube something comes along that proves you wrong. That something is Techno Brega from Belem do Para, Brazil. Literally translated as "Tacky Techno", and using basslines and backbeats from cheesy 80's songs, it is ofttimes as tacky as the name suggests. This phenomenon grew out of the Calypso Brega of the Amazon region and has since created a new business model for the local music industry based not on controlling royalties from CD sales but on viral marketing and huge dance parties.

Here is a sample: (Click the up arrow to change songs)

music player
I made this music player at MyFlashFetish.com.

"Leviana" holds a particular place in my heart simply due to the emotional connection I have with Belem. Although I like the lyrics alot I think the biggest factor is that it was SO popular when I was there that it permeated my psyche. The Reginaldo Rossi version is probably technically better, and there are lot's of pretty Brazilian girls in the video as there always are, but it's all very campy no matter how you slice it.

Those of you who lived through the early 90's might remember the tune of "Palavras" from this Richard Marx classic. Who says that stealing a tune is bad?! It's still catchy and for non-Portuguese speakers they have rendered it completely incomprehensible, which could be good or bad I suppose. If you'rE a fan of the song rest assured the orginal lyrics are less campy than the remake. I never thought I'd say that about Richard Marx.

And here are two youTube video excerpts from the Documentary "Good Copy Bad Copy". It is a Danish movie which you can download for free from this torrent or watch on their site. (Don't worry it's under the Creative Commons license so you won't get arrested for downloading it. Finally, a legal use for your BitTorrent client!!). Besides the information on the Techno Brega scene these are excellent snapshots of Belem. I'd forgotten just how much more libinious Brazil is than our Puritan country. Anyone easily offended by G-Strings, suggestive dancing, or pretty girls in not much clothing should watch with one hand ready to cover their eyes.

Clip #1
Clip #2
(Sorry they aren't embedded, my work blocks the site so all I have is the direct URL)
I lived in Belem do Para for a semester in 1999 and got to experience this music first hand. At the time I didn't know much about the phenomenon but the music is hard to escape. Between the speaker cars tooling through the neighborhood blasting music to the numerous pirate CD stands (which also blare the music) it's everywhere. It's a bit like listening to ABBA. Once you get over the camp factor there is some great stuff there.
If you are interested in this check out AmazoniaFM.com or BregaPop.com for streaming audio of this type of music as well as individual songs and lists of CD's.