England, France, and Italy might have already fallen by the wayside, but today is the day that European giants will start to drop out of the World Cup race not via their own incompetence and attitude problems, but because they’ve been beaten by a superior opponent. I hope, at least. It’s Spain vs. Portgual today and I can only hope it’s the first real display of European quality at this tournament; the first one not tainted by the incompetence of the opponents, at least.
I also hope we get to see Ronaldo cry. Just because.
The most recognisable artist from Portugal amongst Sputnik’s userbase is undoubtedly Moonspell, and for good reason; they’ve proven to be one of the most enduring metal bands in the world, with their latest outing, 2008’s Night Eternal, earning enough acclaim to make you forget that it had been a full 13 years since their debut, the cult classic Wolfheart. This song is from the latter, which is as essential a part of the gothic metal canon as Mandtlion, Bloody Kisses, and Wildhoney.
Portuguese music is probably best known in the wider world for fado, however; a genre with Iberian folk origins that could be linked to blues, in the way that it incorporated African rhythms introduced to local musicians by way of the slave trade and became synonymous with songs of longing and yearning. It’s older, though, with examples dating back to at least the early 1800s, and possible mentions of it in literature from the 15th century. Back then the songs typically revolved around maritime themes, as one might expect from a country with so many major coastal cities, not to mention one that can count Ferdinand Magellan amongst its most famous sons. It evolved, however, to include more upbeat tempi and a broader range of subject matter; nowadays, fado can be loosely categorized as any popular-era music with Portuguese folk roots. This performance comes from Cristina Branco, on her Live DVD – other names of note include Carlos Paredes and Amália Rodrigues.
For a more modern twist on Portugal, though, look no further than their dance music. Like seemingly every Mediterranean country, there is a booming trade for 18-30 friendly floor fillers in Portugal, and it’s thrown up a few absolute classics. This is one of them – Rui da Silva’s eternal “Touch Me”, one of the definitive singles of 2001. It’s one of those songs that seems to get played every time you go to a club, and no wonder; the dark, sinewy groove and the gutbusting soul of the vocal not only set it apart from most club fodder of the time, but ensured that it resonated with audiences both immediately before and after 9/11.