The official World Cup song and video is getting decidedly mixed reviews in Brazil, where many locals are complaining of generic foreign rhythms and lazy stereotypes.
The video for the song, “We Are One,” by U.S.-born Cuban rapper Pitbull features New York Puerto Rican Jennifer Lopez and Brazilian pop singer Claudia Leitte (for 14 seconds of Brazilian Portuguese, at the end) on location in Miami.
It’s a rap-pop anthem, with classic World Cup themes -– unity, strength, perseverance –- sung mostly in English and Spanish, over production with a smattering of Latin touches. After a different version of the song was leaked here, and received coldly, it seems producers at FIFA partner Sony went with a drum track performed by Brazilian drum group Olodum.
But the change in percussion did little to satisfy the scores of Brazilians who took to social networks and local culture news outlets to express distaste on Friday.
“Some people liked [the song], but it left many others disappointed by betting on clichés of Brazil and a generic sound,” said local entertainment outlet R7.
Many also took issue with the images in the video itself. In addition to the expected nods to soccer, the video features scenes of Carnival, samba dancers, barefoot children, capoeira fighters, drumming, and as many smiling, half-naked people as possible in between.
Critics objected on aesthetic as well as national and political grounds.
First, many simply didn’t like the song. By early afternoon Friday, Shakira’s “Waka Waka” had become a trending topic on Twitter in Brazil, as locals said how much they preferred her catchy 2010 FIFA World Cup theme song.
“Hey, Fifa, is there still time to get Shakira to sing Waka Waka?” asked @allnightLouis in a typical post.
Then there was the question of the choice of an American production, in English, set in the USA for a track that offered little of Brazil’s abundant native rhythms or its broad cast of beloved musicians.
“The song is terrible. If the World Cup is in Brazil, why two foreign singers and almost the entire song in English?” read one comment. @LorenEdelstein asked “We Are One has a Caribbean beat, not a Brazilian beat. Did they mix up where the World Cup is happening?”
But the cause of the most wincing across this country was the reproduction of the same visual stereotypes which have dominated Brazil’s reputation for decades, which many had hoped the 2014 World Cup would help them move past.
“This World Cup theme song is a big pile of cliches,” tweeted Leka Peres, 27, a DJ and music journalist who previously worked as a program director at MTV Brazil.
Later, she explained: “You know that idea of an American that thinks the capital of Brazil is Argentina? That’s what this is,” she said. “They grab two ‘Latinos’ from the world of global pop to make a song that has nothing to do with Brazil.”
“And then the video reproduces the same old idea that our parties always have half-naked, sexualized and curvy women, men fighting capoeira, and a samba troupe together with Olodum,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.”
In contrast to the clip’s eager-to-please optimism, a small majority of Brazilians think the World Cup will be do more harm to the country than good, after stadium expenses soared and led to protests demanding a focus on healthcare, education, and housing.
The first match takes place on June 12 in São Paulo.