"Vem Pra Rua" and the Soundtrack of Brazil Protests

A car commercial turned protest anthem and other songs of Brazil's uprising.

June 22, 2013— -- Brazilian authorities may have backpedaled on the 20 centavo bus fare raise, but that doesn't mean the country's protest movement plans to slow down anytime soon. Large-scale protests are expected to continue as demonstrators seek to use their momentum to request broader reforms from the government.

See Also: 5 Reasons Why Brazil Is Protesting

As everybody knows, a protest isn't worth anything without a good soundtrack – people need something to sing and yell in the streets, after all. Below, you'll find a guide to some of the major songs that of the movement: the dressing to Brazil's "Salad Uprising", as it were.

1. A Fiat Commercial Gets Flipped Upside Down

You could call it a sign of the times: the central anthem to the protests isn't by a folk singer or lefty rock band. It's the jingle to a Fiat commercial with the title "Vem Pra Rua" ("Come To The Streets"), and it's everywhere you look: scrawled on signs, topping Facebook memes, synced up to footage of the protests on YouTube and chanted on repeat in the streets.

The song features vocals from Marcelo Falcão, singer for the radio rockers O Rappa, and was written by a jingle-house for Fiat for a campaign centered around the Confederations Cup soccer competition currently taking place in Brazil . The lyrics, which open "Come, let's go to the streets/ Come, this is your party/ Brazil is going to be a giant/ Big like you've never seen before", were intended to pump people up to support the Brazilian national team, with the coded message of driving around the streets in a Fiat.

In an ironic twist for Fiat, the lyrics resonated with protestors who were flooding into the streets not by car, but on foot. Meanwhile the Confederations Cup has actually become a target of the protests, as a symbol of the expensive infrastructure projects untaken for next year's now-controversial World Cup.

"From time to time some jingles transcend the universe of advertising and become part of people's everyday life, and once that happens, the song has no owners anymore, it's everybody's," says Henrique Ruiz Nicolau, the song's composer. "When you're in the advertising music business, you try not to get too attached to your work, but of course I'm happy to see people singing the song. It's good to see it has transcended and people are using it to help them get what they are fighting for."

The Brazilian newspaper Estadão reported on Monday that Fiat would take the commercial off the air this week, allegedly on their original timetable for its run. In a statement, Fiat of Brazil said that the slogan "Vem Pra Rua" was made "with an exclusive focus on the Cup and on the happiness and passion that football awakens in Brazilians."

Watch Video of "Vem Pra Rua" Here

2. Old-School Rocker Goes Viral

On June 16, a song appeared on YouTube called "As coisas não caem do céu" ("Things Don't Fall From The Sky") by an artist named Leoni. Over a gentle guitar strum, a voice sings wistfully, "Why does everybody complain about what they read in the morning newspaper?... /Forget about wishing, and enter the dance/ Things don't fall from the sky." The song came alongside a video made up of clips from the early days of the protest – young Brazilians with signs moving through the nighttime streets.

The timing was perfect – just after violent police crackdowns had stirred up a lot of anger, and day before Monday's truly massive protests. And it had a "do-it-yourself" message that made a lot of sense to protesters. The video went fairly viral in Brazil, racking up half a million views in a few days.

Leoni is a well-known name in Brazil and a veteran of the country's '80s rock and roll revolution, often known as B-Rock. He played in the bands Kid Abelha and Heróis da Resitencia, and had a syrupy hit in 1993 with "Garotos." He says he didn't write "As coisas não caem do céu" originally for the uprising, but about his own apathy.

"I wrote it about being stuck and not participating in the political life of the country, and suddenly there was this movement," says Leoni. "I don't think artists can lead the people and tell them what to think – it's more a question of listening, of giving people the poetic weapons to communicate what they are trying to say."

At the start of the video, Leoni writes, "This is my homage to a generation that has taught me that things don't fall from the sky."

Watch Video of "As coisas não caem do céu" Here

3. Nursery Rhymes, Re-Purposed

I asked Brazilians that have been going to the protests what people have been chanting, and it's no surprise that there are a lot of different chants. One goes popular one goes: "What a coincidence/ No police, no violence." But some of the most common ones have been Brazilian nursery rhymes, with the lyrics tweaked into pointed political messages.

There's one popular (and depressing) rhyme that goes: "There was a house/ A very funny house/ It didn't have a roof/ It didn't have anything." The protesters have turned it into: "There was a country/ A very funny country/ It didn't have hospitals/ Only stadiums." The original is called "A Casa" and it's by Vinicius de Moraes.

Watch Video of "A Casa" Here

4. Anitta, Bring Us Your Army

Not every musician's attempts to get involved with the demonstrations have been applauded. MC Anitta, whose pop-baile funk hybrids inspire both adoration and rage in Brazil (think: Brazil's answer to Ke$ha), published alternate protest-friendly lyrics to her dance hit "Show das Poderosas" on her Instagram.

Anitta's attempts to get involved seemed to be met mostly with snickers. Meanwhile, she's become the butt of a popular internet meme going around that says, "We need to call Anitta to the protest, since her army is big and powerful." It's mostly making fun of a line in "Show das Poderosas" in which she brags about her sizeable fan-base, but hey, just imagine if her legions of teen followers hit the streets – the government wouldn't have a chance.

Watch Video of "Show das Poderosas" Here