23 May 2010
Os Mutantes - Baby
This is inspired by my favourite radio DJ, Vicky on WFMU's Do or DIY with People Like Us, who played an English version of Baby by Fantastic Plastic Machine on her first show of 2010. Like me, Vicky has a penchant for singers who use English as their second language. Here are the originals by Os Mutantes in Portuguese and English. Baby was written by Caetano Veloso (I believe he wrote both sets of lyrics) and both versions here are sung by Rita Lee.
The lyrics don't make much sense in either language because they were meant to be a parody of a certain kind of Brazilian middle class culture that was around at the time. The line It's time now to learn Portuguese... is a kind of mirror translation of Você precisa aprender inglês... (You need to learn English). There is an interesting New York Times article on Caetano Veloso's use of English on Caetano's website. It says that the Baby, baby, I love you that ends the song is a quote from Paul Anka's Diana, which is not exactly true because that line isn't in Diana. But I guess he quoted the melody.