Without a doubt, this is the most famous song to emerge from Brazil’s Bossa Nova scene. Bossa Nova is essentially a Brazilian take on Jazz, using Samba rhythms and classical guitar.
“The Girl From Ipanema” was written in 1962 by Antonio Jobim and Vinicius de Moreus performed most famously in 1964 by Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto. Astrud’s husband Joao sings the portuguese lyrics, although it was her who was the guest singer on the album. Getz/Gilberto , the classic album which contains this song, refers to the male Gilberto. Astrud sang because she could speak English well enough, and was not a trained singer.
The song is about a pretty girl walking on a beach in Ipanema, a trendy district of Rio de Janeiro. There is, in fact, an actual “girl from Ipanema”, who became famous because of the song.
The track has a very soft percussion part, with a swinging bass, and a classical guitar which provides the main backing melody. The singing is alternating between the male Portuguese part and the female English part. Joao Gilberto is very good, but Astrud’s vocals are captivating.
Stan Getz’s sax part is everything it should be. The instrument can be very expressive in the right hands, and Stan Getz has the right hands!
There’s also some piano, which adds to the song’s natural vibe of “sitting outside in a fancy restaurant”. In that respect it has become a bit cliched, but it is nevertheless an beautiful piece.