The Girl From Ipanema is a hit again, 52 years later

NEW YORK • For about a week in 1964, a bossa nova tune was bigger than songs by The Beatles.

The melancholy pop gem, The Girl From Ipanema, which was penned by a Brazilian songwriting team, enchanted listeners around the globe after an English-language version was recorded in 1963.

More than 50 years later, with a little bit of help from the Rio Olympics, the song is once again in demand.

Spotify reported this week that The Girl From Ipanema was streamed more than 40,000 times the day after it accompanied Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen as she strutted across the stage during the opening ceremony of the Olympics last Friday.

That streaming number represented a 1,200 per cent increase, Spotify said.

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen walked onstage to The Girl From Ipanema at the Rio Olympics. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Much of the spike came from users who searched for the song themselves, a spokesman for Spotify said. Several covers of the tune were included in the count. But a version of the song credited to poet Vinicius de Moraes, one of its two Brazilian creators, appeared on a Rio playlist that was promoted by Spotify, where some new listeners may have found it, the spokesman said.

De Moraes and his frequent collaborator, songwriter and composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, wrote the song, Garota De Ipanema, in 1962, while working on a musical about an extraterrestrial who visits Brazil. (Jobim's grandson, Daniel Jobim, played the tune during Bundchen's walk.)

The duo tried to imagine what might convince an alien visitor that Earth was worthwhile, according to Performing Songwriter magazine. They settled on a beautiful woman.

In 1965, de Moraes publicly identified the muse of the song: Heloisa Pinheiro, or Helo, a girl who was from Ipanema, in the southern part of Rio de Janeiro.

The song was popular in Brazil. But it became an international hit after Stan Getz, an American saxophonist, and Joao Gilberto, the Brazilian singer and guitarist whose name became synonymous with bossa nova, created the English-language version during a recording session with Antonio Carlos Jobim.

They enlisted Norman Gimbel, the songwriter later famous for Killing Me Softly With His Song (1972), to pen the lyrics and asked Gilberto's wife, Astrud, to sing them.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2016, with the headline 'The Girl From Ipanema is a hit again, 52 years later'. Print Edition | Subscribe