Is there any way to make sure a song will succeed? We at Presto wonder about that too, folks. Believing that a real case can bring good clues on this matter, we are heading to the greatest Brazilian musical success of all time (at least it was until the day we wrote this text): Michel Teló’s version of Oh, if I catch you!
For few musicians can aspire a six-figure hit on YouTube as this song did it so fast, we bet that the reasons that help to understand a bit of its huge success extrapolate the musical scope. Also, and to use a cliché generally correct, in art the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Otherwise, we are aware that there are new shortcuts to fame and for generation Y and Millennials are more important six-second videos than the traditional three minutes of songs or the infamous 4:33 of “silence”.
Even if we could individually identify all the aspects that make this song so successful, we would not have explained yet what would be the magic formula that can guarantee success for a particular song. Probably no one knows it for sure – which sounds a reasonable explanation for why success is a perennial issue in aesthetics and in the music business.
So why Oh, if I catch you! achieved so much success?
The song had already enjoyed fame in local markets.
Michel Teló is not the songwriter of this track nor was the first one to record it. In fact, there are at least three previous versions, all of them by Brazilian bands:
- Os Meninos De Seu Zeh [The Mr. Joseph’s Boys] recorded it and got some good local buzz;
- the band Cangaia De Jegue [Rowing of Donkeys] made the first commercial recording of music, making it a success in Bahia (Brazil);
- and the band Garota Safada [Nasty Girl] group re-recorded the song and increased its success in the Brazilian Northeast.
The tune has a catchy reggae vibe.
Reggae is a consolidated, internationally recognized style, and was explored and propagated by important artists of other styles:
- Led Zeppelin recorded D’yer Mak’er;
- Guns ‘n’ Roses, at Wembley, did an interlude on Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door;
- even Skrillex was inspired by reggae in First of the Year.
The musical arrangement was familiar to Brazil public, and its harmony is familiar to the world.
The musical arrangement was made in a style called sertanejo universitário, which is a contemporary, urban, Brazilian country music that bears many similarities to American country music. Sertanejo universitário is widespread in Brazilian parties, rodeos festivals and nightclubs, which makes this music more likable and acceptable to the rest of the country and to many parts of the world who were already fans of American country music.
Also, the chord progression has already been used in many songs.
The danceable rhythm took this song to countless dance floors.
The rhythm played by the drums is super dancing even for us classical musicians. The first and second sessions are based on the style called Vaneirão, surprisingly a German-born origin that resembles the Arrocha style, which is widespread in northeast Brazil. Along with the accordion, they give peculiarity to the arrangement and maintain the connection with Forró, who is the (successful) origin of this song.
You can listen to the examples on SoundCloud.
LYRICS matters too.
Oh, if I touch you!
Oh, if I catch you! lyrics describe a flirtation. Whoever sings it to someone is kind of “touching” the desired person. The efficiency of this ambiguity explains why this is a strategy so recurrent in highly successful songs.
The song was tailor-made for regions that did not know the original song.
The original lyrics were adapted to reach more people. Words that only made sense in the small cities of the bands that recorded the still unknown music were exchanged in words comprehensible to most of the Brazilian public and, later, the international audience: Sábado no Kabana [Saturday at Kabana – a nightclub in Bahia, Brazil] – and later Sábado no Forró [Saturday in Forró – forró meaning both the music style and the public dance houses] was replaced by Sábado na Balada [Saturday at a Party], term more used in the richer southeastern region of Brazil.
In addition, the accent of the singer, native of the south of Brazil, facilitated the arrival of the music to the wealthier south and southeast regions, where it was not yet known.
Repeating and emphasizing words and phonemes is a traditional, effective writing and songwriting technique feature. Songs, product releases, political speeches and graduation, everyone uses it. It is not rocket science.
A good CHOREOGRAPHY helps.
Play safe, stay cool.
If you not a good dancer but really want or have to dance, dance concentrating on one part of your body at a time, as Kiesza taught. Oh, if I catch you! choreography is the kind that anyone can venture into.
MARKETING matters indeed.
$0.00 is a lot less than $0.01…
A zero cost product does not guarantee the sustainability of its success, but it helps a lot in releases. Oh, if I catch you was released for free on Teló’s website, and launched on YouTube simultaneously, making it easier for users to hear and publicize it without entering the questioning zone that exists even in the cents sums, as explained by Chris Anderson.
English words: yes, please.
The song had an English version released by Michel Teló himself, thus ensuring that the original Portuguese language was not a barrier to international success, a formula that is enshrined, for example, with Latin and Asian artists.
Also, HAVING LUCK helps.
Celebrities sell stuff.
The song, which was already a national success, was known to many famous Brazilian soccer players, such as Neymar (then an FC Barcelona player) and Marcelo (a Real Madrid player). They celebrated some goals with the choreography of the song, creating an enormous social media buzz.
The greatest international success happened when Cristiano Ronaldo, the most influential athlete in the world and in social networks in 2015 according to Forbes magazine, celebrated with the Oh, if I catch you choreography, attracting even more attention from the press and the international public.
A real global warming alert.
Success all over the world was huge, so much so that the track ranked first in the music charts in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Colombia, Honduras, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Italy, France, Israel, among many others, and won many versions, such as Polish, Dutch, Spanish, etc.
Why Oh, if I catch you! achieved so much success? If you know or have any guesses why, please feel free to share with us. Thank you – also for your precious reading-time!