Roupa Nova

Natal Todo Dia

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A pop vocal outfit from Rio de Janeiro, Roupa Nova had their heyday in the '80s but made a comeback on the charts with the two-volume Acustico, featuring acoustic versions of their old hits. The sextet hoped to continue its revival with a new studio release, the Christmas album Natal Todo Dia. It is important to keep in mind that, while a popular staple in much of the English-speaking world, Christmas albums are not that common elsewhere. That is certainly the case in Brazil, where a project like this appears more as a cute rarity than as a commercial concession. There is, however, another factor that should be considered, and that is that Roupa Nova are a pop group -- not a Brazilian popular music group. In other words, Natal Todo Dia is by no means a Christmas album Brazilian style, but a fairly standard Christmas album sung (mostly) in Portuguese. Expect no bossa, samba, forró, choro, or axé, but piano and acoustic guitar ballads bathed in fairly MOR synthesizer arrangements, all designed to enhance the -- remarkable, it should be said -- doo wop talents of the Roupa Nova singers. Even the repertory is mostly culled from English-speaking sources, from Christmas standards such as "White Christmas" and "Silent Night" to other feel-good songs not necessarily associated with Christmas, such as George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord," Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," and Michael Jackson's "Heal the World" (here renamed "A Paz"). This is probably most unfortunate for international audiences, since they are already so familiar with this material done in a similar way. A collection of Brazilian carols, or more originals like the two present in the record, "Natal Todo Dia" and "No Fundo do Coração," would have likely made this release more exciting. As it is, it amounts to little more than a nice language curio (check Bread's David Gates appearing in a Portuguese version of his own "Come Home for Christmas") that may appeal to fans of Christmas music or vocal groups only.

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