Pop Goes the World
Published: February 2011
By Heidi Mitchell
Ever wonder who’s topping the charts around the globe? Here, T+L rounds up the hottest pop stars from France to South Africa, with samples of their tunes to get you into the groove.
The millenial answer to Edith Piaf puts a modern spin on the French chanson, mixing in African, Latino, jazz, blues, and rap. The bouncy, jangly 2010 hit, “Je Veux,” was her first solo single.
South Africa: Freshlyground
Made up of seven musicians from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, Freshlyground fuses African folk pop with reggae, dance hall, jazz, and kwela. The result is an infectious, easy-listening sound that’s more Gwen Stefani than Paul Simon.
Possibly the only male pop star to hit a high C intentionally, Latvian-born Vitas has become hugely popular in Eastern Europe, not least because of his outlandish costumes and stage sets. Part opera, part chamber music, part kitschy Andrew Lloyd Webber—all rocking at the disco.
Brazil: Bebel Gilberto
Gilberto is Brazilian music royalty: her dad is the father of bossa nova, João Gilberto, and her mother is singer Miúcha. Bebel honed her voice by playing smoky downtown bars in New York City, but her silky, modern bossa nova sound is the opposite of gritty.
Korea: Wonder Girls
These K-Pop stars were factory-made by J. Y. Park, the Diddy of Korea. Their smash, “Nobody,” was the first Korean single ever to break the Billboard 100. Think the Asian Spice Girls and you’re close.