Caetano Veloso – Nega Maluca/Billie Jean/Eleanor Rigby

Caetano Emanuel Viana Teles Veloso, aside from having one of the coolest names on record, is one of the most respected Brazilian musicians of the 20th century. He’s been called the Brazilian Bob Dylan. He began his career in the late ’60s, being a major figure in the Tropicália movement, in which Brazilian pop music became heavily influenced by the psychedelia of the US and shifted away from folk music. He has recorded consistently since then, with his latest album, Abraçaço, being released in 2012. This song is originally from his 1986 album Caetano Veloso. He begins with a very short intro, “Nega Maluca,” which means “deny madness” and is the name of a Brazilian chocolate cake, and then moves into a samba/bossa nova version of “Billie Jean,” with his light voice completely transforming the track from MJ’s original. Towards the end he moves into “Eleanor Rigby,” which serves as a perfect counterpart, both musically and lyrically, to the rest of the song. The live video only adds to the track, with Caetano looking very green and very much like Jason Segel in Freaks and Geeks, and the tight camera on his face showing us his intelligence and the relaxed, breezy quality of his cover.

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