The bond between football and music is as strong as ever.
The Champions League Final Kick Off Show by Pepsi has only strengthened that bond in recent years, reserving the opening moments of the biggest match of the year for talented artists to perform in front of record-breaking crowds. On 10 June, Manchester City and Inter Milan will battle it out in Istanbul to lay claim to one of football's most coveted trophies. Just moments before that, a superstar will make her own history at Atatürk Olympic Stadium, putting Brazilian music on the football-obsessed’s radar in one of her biggest performances outside of Brazil.
Lauded as the Queen of Brazilian Funk, Anitta is one of the biggest musical acts to come out of Brazil in decades, and her power continues to grow. Born and raised in a neighbourhood with one of the lowest Human Development Indexes in Rio de Janeiro, her success has defied all odds. Making hits in three different languages – Portuguese, Spanish, and English – her musical prowess has resonated with audiences far from the beaches of her native country.
Receiving her first Grammy nomination after the release of her 2022 album ‘Versions of Me,’ Anitta has officially reached global superstar status. Her discography is riddled with firsts for Brazil. Her late 2021 single ‘Envolver’ made her the first Brazilian and Latin American artist to top Spotify’s Global Top 50 chart. In 2022, Anitta became the first Brazilian artist to win an MTV Video Music Award and an American Music Award. With a career spanning over a decade, it’s about time.
VERSUS sat down with Anitta to talk about her journey from Rio to the biggest stage in club football, growing up in a city obsessed with jogo bonito, and spreading Brazilian culture worldwide ahead of her highly-anticipated performance next month.
You’re performing at the UCL Final with Pepsi, which is a big deal. What can fans expect from this performance?
Well, I’m preparing a surprise, for sure. A surprise that they are not expecting at all. I think I’m bringing culture, a lot of culture, and also, obviously, hits. I need for people to dance and my biggest hit is for sure gonna be there for people to sing and dance along to.
When you started making music over a decade ago, did you ever fathom this much international success?
Actually, yes. And it’s kind of curious because right now the Pepsi campaign is called ‘Thirsty for More’ and that’s exactly how I was when I was a kid. I used to tell everybody, all of the things that are happening in my life right now, like singing on the TV, on shows like that – I used to literally tell my family, “oh I’m going to sing here, I’m going to do this, I’m going to win that award”. We had a simple life, a simple family. I come from the communities in Brazil and they would never imagine that such big things would be happening with me right now, you know? But me as a kid, I was so sure about it and I would tell them everything. I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that, and it’s so funny. I love to see that. It’s crazy.
Your music incorporates Axé, Carioca, and a lot of Brazilian genres. How does it feel to have Brazilian music celebrated on a global scale?
Oh, it’s great. I love to show my country and represent them. And I think both things – football and music – are two things that are very connected to Brazilian culture. Big, big soccer players. They are from Brazil and also the music, we’re so connected. And I really think it’s great for me to be there, and I know Ederson will be playing on the day (hopefully), so it’s great to have another Brazilian in attendance. I’m super glad to be the one exporting our music and passing it forward.
How do you think football and music – two huge aspects of Brazilian culture – can work together to spread Brazilian culture worldwide?
A lot of players from Brazil and the musicians, we feel like it’s just one family, one team. We kind of come from the same place, even more if you come from the rhythm that I do, which is funk. It’s born in the ghetto, in the communities – like me and a lot of footballers from Brazil. So we feel each other’s stories. It’s like to overcome, to just conquer so many things that people would never believe seeing the humble place that we come from. I think Brazil has this in its veins – the energy, the creativity for music and also for football. If you see the moves that Pelé used to do, a lot of players do them now. And he was so creative when he was playing, you know? And I think Brazil has this thing in our blood – the creativity for music, for sports.
How has coming from a country and a city where football is so important impacted your relationship with the sport?
Oh, very much. Cause it’s kind of like, if you’re Brazilian, you need to understand football. You have to know. It’s like it’s your obligation to be a part of it, to know the athletes, to know the players. It’s funny. I think it’s very connected. And Brazil is very known for soccer, for football. So I think I want to make Brazil very, very known for funk music.
You’re performing at the Kick Off Show with one of the biggest afrobeats artists in Burna Boy. What do you think of non-Western music becoming such a global phenomenon in recent years?
I think it’s amazing. I said a couple years ago I think Afro music is gonna be the next big thing, I think it is right now. I just love Burna Boy. When I found out he was the one co-hosting with me I was like “Wow, I’m such a big fan.” We were together at the Met Gala recently and I told him “Oh my God, we’re gonna have such a good time,” and we talked about it. I’m such a fan of his. I listen to him everyday. He’s amazing. I’m so glad he is the person that is sharing this moment with me.
How will you prepare for the Kick Off Show? Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
I’m going to start rehearsing next week and creating the choreography, because I like creating the choreography together. I’m going to take videos of all the creation parts to share with my fans after, so they can see how it was, the whole preparation. I’m working out everyday to keep up with all this dancing and the moves that I wanna do. I think it’s going to be great. The music part was done a while ago and now it’s just the performance, styling, looks, and movements.