I’m a big fan of Latin pop, but I’ve come across few tunes lately that I’ve found to be such infectious earworms as Ai, se eu te pego! (Oh, If I Catch You!). It’s been a runaway hit in Brazil, Europe, and even Quebec since last summer, and is now starting to make a growing splash in the U.S. As the Miami Herald put it recently, this “may be the most popular song to come out of Brazil since "The Girl From Ipanema" in the 1960s. It’s been zooming up on the Spanish/Latin pop charts in the U.S. for some time now, made a splash several days ago at the Billboard Latin Music Awards on Telemundo, and racked up a half a billion YouTube hits in its various versions…the list goes on and will no doubt grow as the singer comes to tour in the U.S.

That singer is boy-next-doorish 31-year-old Michel Teló, who hails from the farming town of Medianeira in the rural southern state of Paraná (a growing ecotourism power, by the way). In fact, this dude’s more than a little bit country – he grew up singing sertanejo, Brazil’s answer to country western, and never mind samba or bossa nova – these days musica sertaneja is Brazil’s most popular genre. Teló is actually more in the vein of a subgenre called sertanejo universitário (referring to its appeal to young people), which goes in more for electric guitars and synthesizers than old-school harmonicas and accordions  (nonetheless, Ai, se eu te pego! does include liberal doses of accordion). 

Popular though the genre is, this song didn’t become a smash breakout – and ultimately international hit – until the right people took notice. In this case that would be Brazilian soccer stars like Ronaldo, Marcelo, and Neymar, who started started getting down on video at games to the tune and the little macarena-style moves that go with it. That’s what sent it viral.

Check it out, and even try following along with the lyrics below.  ‘Cause as with Shakira, Marc Antony, Ricky Martin, and other Latin popsters, chances are you’re going to be hearing more from this guy.

 

Nossa, nossa, assim vôce me mata.
[Wow, oh wow, you’re gonna kill me like that]
Ai, se eu te pego, ai ai, se eu te pego!
[Oh, if I catch you, oh, if I catch you!]
Delicia, delicia, assim vôce me mata.
[Yummy, yummy, you’re gonna kill me like that]
Ai, se eu te pego, ai, se eu te pego!
[Oh, if I catch you, oh, if I catch you!]

Sábado na balada
[Saturday at the party]
A galera começou a dançar
[Everybody started to dance]
E passou a menina mais linda
[And the prettiest girl passed by me]
Tomei coragem e comecei a falar…
[I screwed up my courage and started saying…]