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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil – This year’s Carnival has thrust Michel Teló’s hit song “Ai, se eu te pego” into the spotlight.
The 31-year-old Brazilian singer, who has experienced runaway success in Latin America and Europe since the second half of last year, rocked Salvador the past few days while performing on the region’s traditional trios elétricos (mobile music stages) alongside Ivete Sangalo, Asa de Águia and Exaltasamba.
His touring schedule reflects his growing popularity. Teló will perform in the cities of Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Bahia before heading to Europe, where he’ll play in Portugal, London, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Italy between Feb. 24 and March 11.
Persistence, charisma and catchy songs help explain the musical phenomenon that is Michel Teló.
Born in the city of Medianeira, Paraná, and raised in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, Teló was a member of Grupo Tradição, a Brazilian country-western music group, for 12 years.
But it wasn’t until he went solo, in 2009, that he started to gain a larger following.
Teló’s first albums showcased his ability to create songs with naughty lyrics and catchy choruses that were easy to sing, which won over crowds throughout Brazil.
That was what happened with “Ei, psiu, beijo me liga” from his first solo album “Balada sertaneja” (2009) and with “Fugidinha” from the album “Michel Teló – Ao vivo” (2010).
In 2010, he was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the category of Best Country Music Album, but he didn’t win.
In the second half of 2011, Teló skyrocketed to new levels of fame with the explosion on Brazilian radio stations of his song “Ai, se eu te pego,” from the album “Na balada” (2011).
Video has more than 185 million views
The song’s official video has more than 185 million views on YouTube.
The catalyst for Teló’s success in Europe started in Spain, on the soccer fields of Real Madrid.
In October 2011, Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated a goal by doing the dance associated with Teló’s hit, alongside Brazilian player Marcelo Vieira.
The aftermath clearly demonstrated the full power of Ronaldo’s influence.
The song spent five months in heavy rotation in several European countries and was the top seller on iTunes in Brazil and other Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru, as well as 10 European nations.
“When I saw Cristiano Ronaldo dancing, I realized that something different was happening and that good things were on their way,” Teló said during an interview with the Diário de S. Paulo newspaper at the time.
Ronaldo wasn’t the first, and he wouldn’t be the last.
Before him, Brazilian superstar Neymar, who plays for Brazil’s Santos, was shown performing the choreography to Teló’s hit in the locker room. Afterward, videos appeared with other athletes doing the same, such as AC Milan’s Alexandre Pato, Robinho and Thiago Silva in Italy; tennis player Rafael Nadal in Spain; and NBA’s Denver Nuggets players in the United States.
Even soldiers from the Israeli army shot a video of themselves dancing to “Ai, se eu te pego.”
Sensing an opportunity to expand his market, Teló recorded an English version of the song “If I catch you.”
“It’s a song made by the people for the people, which helps to explain this phenomenon,” says music producer Carlos Eduardo Miranda, who helped launch Brazilian artists such as Skank and Raimundos and produced the “Acústico MTV” album by Lobão, which won Best Brazilian Rock album at the Latin Grammy Awards in 2007. “Plus, the naughty lyrics and the rhythm make it possible to do that little dance, which became popular.”
“Ai, se eu te pego” was created by the Bahian composer Sharon Acioly, in partnership with Antonio Dyggs and inspired by a game created by three students in João Pessoa, Paraíba.
For Teló’s fans, the success has been a long time coming.
“He deserves everything that’s happening,” says model Jarla Zimmer, who in 2009, along with two friends, created the Michel Teló Sul Fan Club in São José do Cedro, Santa Catarina. “Michel Teló has always been a humble, friendly person.”
The fan club has nearly 700 members from Brazil and other countries, 14,000 followers on Twitter and 2,000 fans on Facebook.
“Whenever possible, he thanks us for our support during his shows,” says Zimmer, who has attended 18 of Teló’s shows in the last two years.
Despite the fact that “Ai, se eu te pego” is still a success, Michel Teló is already working to promote his other songs. Also from his album “Na balada,” he has high hopes for the songs “Na minha humilde residência” and “Eu te amo e open bar.”