When one thinks of bossa nova, or perhaps Brazilian music at large, the general population might easily think of “Mas que Nada,”touting it as perhaps the most recognizable and iconic of Brazilian musical ingenuity to date. Originally written and performed by Jorge Ben, it was released in his debut album back in 1963. Eventually, Sérgio Mendes picked it up and covered it. His cover of it was so well-received, it ended up becoming his iconic song, despite it being written originally by a different artist.

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Jorge Ben, from wikipedia.org

The song is sung in full Portuguese, and is notoriously hard to translate, let alone put into the context that can be understood by English speakers. However, most agree that it may have been written simply as a celebratory song of someone who just wants to dance, suffused with some nods to Brazilian culture. The title itself, “Mas que Nada,”is a Brazilian phrase that’s difficult to be understood by those not familiar with Brazilian slang, since its meaning changes based on the context it’s used.

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But many would agree that it roughly translated to “Oh, come on!” or “Whatever!”

The song starts with a nod to the Brazilian warrior goddess Obá, with the narrator chanting to summon her, following with his desire to simply get up and dance. Thebestofbrazil.info actually translated the entire song to its closest English counterpart, and claim thatJorge originally wrote the song during his time in the Army, and is an ode to finding and keeping happiness, despite the bleakness of life.

If you ask us, we’ll have to agree with that explanation: the song, from its lyrical content, to its melody, down to how its performers are so happy to perform it, is indicative that it truly is a song that invokes positive feelings.


Sérgio, live in Manila, from ticketnet.com.ph

Regardless of which version you like best, you can catch Sérgio Mendes perform the song, plus all his other hits from Brasil ’66, this coming March 12, 2016 at his concert at the Smart Araneta Coliseum! See you there!

Which version of “Mas que Nada” is your favorite? Sérgio’s, Jorge’s, or the Black Eyed Peas? Tell us in the comments below!