Blame it on the bossa nova

     Triple-stumper from Saturday, 2-5 (originally 10-14-09): In World of Dance: “Bossa Nova.” (You provide the country of the dance’s origin.)  The contestants guessed Spain and Cuba before Mr. Trebek revealed that “What is Brazil?” was the correct response.  I love to dance myself, and I’m curious now about this dance and its origins.  And just because I love it, here is a video of “Soul Bossa Nova” from Just Dance 2 for the Wii (I dare you not to get up and shake it!):

     All I knew about bossa nova was the line “Blame It on the Bossa Nova,” which my mom used to sing.  For fun, here is a clip of the song, which it turns out is sung by Eydie Gorme and was a top-ten hit released in 1963. 
     Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much about the bossa nova in my books. (I wonder if I should pick up a set of encyclopedias at Goodwill or something?) One of my good ol’ dictionaries, a very beat-up yard sale copy of The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language Encyclopedic Edition, provided more information for me than I had before: “sophisticated Brazilian version of the samba, sometimes with strong jazz influence.” My bigger, usually better dictionary (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged) does not have “bossa nova” at all. So, I’ve had to break down and utilize the Internet, which I’d rather not do for these entries.

     I didn’t know that the song “The Girl from Ipanema,” which I’m only sort of familiar with, is also in the bossa nova style. It was the first internationally known bossa nova song, and possibly the best-known. I also didn’t know that Elvis Presley sang a song called “Bossa Nova Baby.” In additon, the Black Eyed Peas, who of course sung the half-time show at the Superbowl this weekend, recorded a bossa nova song in 2006 called “Mas Que Nada,” which was on a Sergio Mendes album.

     I read that the bossa nova dance and music, both originated in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  The term means “new trend.”  Its exact origins are uncertain, but the word “bossa” (in 1950s Brazil, anyway) referred to any fad.