Friday, September 23, 2011

Snapshots of Globalization: Katy Perry at Rock In Rio 2011


I happened to catch a banner ad on YouTube asking me to tune into a live stream of "Rock In Rio 2011" just now.

Having been to Rio and having been aware of the long-time success of the extremely large Rock In Rio concert series, I jumped in as Katy Perry launched into a medley of songs including "I Want Candy" and "Tootsie Roll", before launching into her own hit singles.

Looking at the lineup for the festival, there are a number of Brazilian acts, as well as hard rock bands like Guns 'N' Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica and Brazil's own Sepultura. Later on in the concert, Elton John and Rihanna will cap off first night of the festival.

But as I write this, the American pop singer and her Candy Land-themed backing band and dancers are gleefully performing "Hot 'N' Cold".

As a huge fan of bossa nova and 60's Brazilian rock, it's interesting to watch an entire crowd of Portuguese-speaking Brazilians singing along to "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" word-for-word. Although there are plenty of beautiful Brazilian vocal tracks, I'm sure the local equivalent of "Thank God It's Friday" isn't nearly as catchy as "T! G! I! F!" in perfectly accented American English. Watching Katy follow-up with a song about the merits of girls from California in a city renowned for exotic beaches and plastic surgeons was pretty funny, too.

But after several decades of English popular music's global dominance, maybe no one else cares that no artist from Rio de Janeiro is headlining the first night of its namesake festival.

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