Local Wire

Bebel Gilberto

Dear Bebel,
It has come to my attention that you're making it a little too easy for the general public to perceive you as a Portuguese crossover artist -- seven of the 12 songs on your new self-titled album are sung in (shudder) English. Clearly this is in direct violation of our special unspoken arrangement, the one where you sing with a lot of nonsense zsa zsa syllables and I nod my head approvingly without ever comprehending any of it. I'm sure your last collection, Tanto Tempo, touched on themes of love and loss, but I prefer the mystery that allows me to empty my head of all details and make every listen feel like I was dipping my toe in a cool Portuguese pool. Now when I hear songs like "Baby" or "Jabuticaba," I realize all along you were probably singing about new ice cream flavors and wondering what tropical fruit I should be named after. I feel betrayed, as if I came to South America with a specific wish to soak up your culture and was tersely handed a Menu Touristica instead. While your nuevo bossa nova music continues to morph Latin rhythms into techno pop, I fear there may be nothing but duets with Bono and songs about General Foods International Coffees in our future together. Please promise me you'll always play midsize venues, keep the bossa nova away from people who'd just as soon be listening to Enya or Sarah Brightman, and remain our little secret, okay?

Sincerely, your biggest fan.