Long hair, tight pants and heeled shoes for the guys, short skirts and straight fringes for the girls and colorful clothing for all. The style was a common feature among the young pop fans in Brazilian cities during the mid 1960’s, when many young middle class Brazilians wholeheartedly embraced the new youth culture coming from the United States and England. The new youth culture and the sexual liberation, was a major step away from the traditional conservative and Catholic values in Brazilian society.
The chic, elegant bossa nova, with its cool and intellectual Ipanema perspective on the world did not fit as a soundtrack for the rebelling youth. Thus, Brazil soon had its own crop of pop stars, in the spirit of the Beatles, The Monkees and Dusty Springfield. Jovem Guarda was the collective name for these Brazilian artists, who played Anglo-American pop, or “iê-iê-iê” (a Brazilianized version of the in English sixties pop commonly used phrase “yeah, yeah, yeah”), as the music was called in Brazil.
The name Jovem Guarda came from a very popular TV show that aired on TV Record in São Paulo, between 1965 and 1969. The show addressed a young audience and featured music and humorous antics led by the young pop stars Roberto Carlos, Erasmo Carlos and Wanderlea. In addition to these three artists, the show also featured a long list of guest artists in the same genre, such as Jerry Adriani, Vanusa, Ronnie Von, Wanderley Cardoso and the Golden Boys. Roberto Carlos and Erasmo Carlos became huge idols among Brazilian middle class teenagers – and especially among girls, provoking the same kind of ecstatic reactions among them as the four Beatles in England. Recording and television companies were quick to capitalize on the huge popularity of the Jovem Guarda artists, and apart from the albums, a wide range of Jovem Guarda products, such as t-shirts, pants, hats, caps and posters, were brought to market.
Jovem Guarda was despised by the Brazilian music critics and they had never enjoyed much respect, either during its heydays or afterwards, from the cultural establishment. It’s also true that most of the music produced by the Jovem Guarda artists was a rather mundane guitar pop, basically aiming at mimicking the pop songs which at this time topped the British and U.S. sales charts. Quality music within the genre was rare and innovation even more so.
On the other hand, there is no denying that the Jovem Guarda music did capture the hearts and minds of many young Brazilians and the electric guitar pop trend played a very important role in the development of Brazilian popular music. In addition, Roberto Carlos and Erasmo Carlos, in their best moments, were two very talented songwriters and perfromers – and songs like for example Namoradinha um amigo meu, Eu estou apaixonado por Você and Canzone per te constitute real pop gems of high international standard. Another surprising high light within Jovem Guarda was when teen girl idol Ronnie Von suddenly decided to record three excellent psychedelic albums, between 1968 and 1970. Or when the blonde, young and model as singer Vanusa 1969 flirted with sound the Jefferson Airplane and recorded the album Vanusa, containing a string of true psychedelic gems.
Examples of jovem guarda music
Click to listen:
Namoradinha de um amigo meu, Roberto Carlos, 1966
Eu estou apaixonado por você, Roberto Carlos, 1966
Atômico Platônico, Vanusa, 1966
Máquina Voadora, Ronnie Von, 1970
Canzone Per Te, Roberto Carlos, 1968
Roberto Carlos on stage