There aren’t many 80-year-olds in the world still at the top. Roberto Carlos, who celebrates his birthday this Monday (19), is one of those very rare cases and his path is so great and unbelievable that he can only be compared to Elvis and the Beatles. Because here in Brazil, the king is completely unique.
True, the singer’s career is not pure and devoid of quarrels, anomalies and unhappy stages. Roberto did not perform well on all of his records, he sneaked several times here, ran into cafes there, bet many times on cheap sentiment and even censored a book about his life. You cannot hide or forget everything. It turns out that in the final account, in the nine, the king’s balance is above positive.
Roberto officially began his music career in 1961, when he released the album Louco Por Você. The only album that did not have its image on the cover was from Bossa Nova, with the then-young singer completely inspired by the style of Joao Gilberto. It was not successful and it did not satisfy anyone. Nor to Roberto himself, who never allowed the album to be re-released. Everyone who has vinyl at the time – one of the things collectors most searched for – has it, that they don’t have to look for pirated recordings out there or listen to them online.
Further Read: Roberto Carlos Celebrates 80 Years And Wins Celebrity Honors
Then, as rock became more popular in the world, Roberto changed his style, and in 1963, he released the album Splish Splash and was finally able to gain attention. With Erasmo Carlos as a partner, the singer’s songs were Portuguese versions of rock songs from the US as well as his own compositions. Roberto quickly became the king of youth and became the highlight of Jovem Guarda, a music movement artificially created to sell recordings and give an audience on television. It did well and revealed a lot of good people for Brazilian music.
There, in the 1960s, Roberto began to become absolutist. With successes reaching the whole country and all social classes, he became a kind of beloved from Brazil. He has been successful in music, television, graphic novels from magazines and even cinema, having worked on three films full of adventure and speed, apparently inspired by Elvis.
Roberto is reproduced in the country, observing proper lineage, the same path of the Beatles and Elvis Presley abroad. In the 1970s and 1980s, the king of Brazilian popular music also changed, as the king of rock. He left his teenage rock roots behind, maturing and adopting romance as a science. Together with Erasmus in composition, Roberto launched unprecedented classics that are now the country’s musical heritage.
Yes, our king has walked roundabout many times. Choose an easy formula for decades when you’ve decided to pay homage to genders like truck drivers, short girls, obese women, people who wear glasses, and taxi drivers, among others. These songs are usually of dubious flair, and they helped propel Roberto even further into the souls of Brazilians. There are people who hate these songs, but you can’t deny that they do their job.
But Roberto’s accomplishments, if you think about it, are greater than those of Elvis and the Beatles. The big difference is that it is stuck in Portuguese, despite releasing records in both English and Spanish. But look at this: King of Rock was 23 years old as a music professional. The English band only lasted seven years, which is strange enough. The periods of activity these two artists performed were enough to put them forever in the popular culture (and pop) of the 21st century. Roberto, in turn, has been professionally active for 60 years. For decades it was the biggest seller in Brazil, nearly always selling over a million copies. You can count on the fingers of one of the other artists who did something like this.
It is true that not everything he did is noteworthy, while the Beatles’ discography, for example, is practically end-to-end perfect – which is not true for Elvis. Roberto has bad music, yeah. She has a poor record, bad taste and even accusations of plagiarism. Roberto was so successful for so long that he got to the point where no one could stand to see him anymore, when he became “an old man” and the ultimate symbol of the Brazilian mainstream. However, it is impossible not to notice that he knows how to remain culturally influential and relevant to new generations. He no longer produces one album a year, as he has done for a long time, and his biggest recent success is Esse Cara Sou Eu, from 2012. But it doesn’t matter much nowadays when looking at the singer’s entire work.
Roberto is one of those cases where there is no way to ignore whether you like it or not. There is no way to conduct an analysis of modern Brazilian music and culture without going through your work. Their songs are part of the soundtrack for an entire country. They have been a part of Brazilian life for decades, and although he hasn’t released anything very important for years, Roberto will always be an icon of the people’s culture.
And to be honest, he is alone in this category.