Portuguese bands in MTV awards

MESA, Gomo, Da Weasel, Toranja and Clã have all been nominated for the Best Portuguese Act awards at the forthcoming MTV Europe Music Awards 2004. The award, which was scooped by Blind Zero last year, will take place in Rome on November 18.

Clã has proved to be one of the most consistently successful Portuguese rock-pop groups over the past decade since it was formed in 1992. Led by musician Hélder Gonçalves, the band was signed to EMI in 1995. In 1996, Clã won Best Newcomer in the national Blitz Music Awards, while in 2003 it did a much-praised sellout concert in Lisbon. Among their best albums to date is the 2002 Lustro, while the group’s present album, Rosa Came, has been hailed locally as a renaissance for the band. Their style is described as intimate and sensual and the band is often seen in trendy alternative venues, such as Le Divan Du Monde in Paris and Sala Razzmatazz in Barcelona.

Mesa formed in 2000 and first appeared on a compilation entitled Pop Up Songs as well as in an alternative music festival promoted by French-Portuguese mobile phone company Optimus. After signing with small independent label, Zona Musica, in 2003, the band launched their self-titled debut album, Mesa, the same year with single Esquecimento getting strong local airplay. The band went on to record a version of Scot Walker’s 30th Century Man and was voted as one of the Top 10 Portuguese acts by local and national press.

In 2004, they signed with EMI and toured extensively, earning rave reviews in publications in the UK, Germany, Brazil and Spain. The band, made up of Monica Ferraz, João Pedro Coimbra, Jorge Coelho, Bruno Macedo, Eurico Amorim and Miguel Ramos, won the Golden Globe Award in 2003 for ‘Best Band’ and Dance Club Music Awards for ‘Best Album’.

The band that has perhaps the most international cross-over appeal for its distinctly lounge, trip-hop urban style is EMI’s Da Weasel – they are original, trendy and polished, without much of a Portuguese flavour, save the language. Catchy rhythms and upmarket videos characterise this group. Their latest CD, Re-Definitions, was launched in May 2004 and the group plugged it at the Rock in Rio Lisboa event and the annual Super Bock Super Rock Festival. Da Weasel is composed of Virgil, Pac, Guilherme, Jay and Quaresama, who describe themselves as the “perfect stress therapy for the nerves”.

Lisbon band, Toranja, first appeared at the 2001 Super Bock Super Rock Festival and the Optimus Hype 2001 Festival and were immediately hailed by national press as the ‘new saviours of Portuguese music’. They recorded a track for the unofficial CD of the 2002 World Cup and, by 2003, were in the studio recording their first album of originals. Composed of Tiago Bettencourt, Ricardo Frutuoso, Dodi and Rato, their first single The Letter was used in the TVI channel Portuguese soap opera Queridas Feras.

Described as ‘rock-pop with poetic lyrics’, the band is one of the most consistent and promising projects to emerge from Portugal in recent years. Their debut album on Universal Music Portugal, Esquissos, led Portuguese daily newspaper Público to say they were ‘the new hope of Portuguese pop-rock’.

Inspired by artists such as Beck, the Eels and Divine Comedy, Paulo Gouveia, now known as ‘Gomo’, uses quirky lyrics and electric arrangements, relishing the opportunity to explore sounds that are very different from the guitar-based American Indie-rock and the Britpop-influenced sound of his previous band, Orange.

It’s All Worth It (For the Summer), with its rubber band, disco-electro baseline and comically triumphant exercise class storyline, became a radio hit in 2002. That same year Gomo sang in Portuguese on the World Cup tribute CD. Signed to Universal, the press quickly proclaimed him the ‘Portuguese Beck and a new light in Portuguese music’. His debut album, The Best of Gomo, followed in 2004, along with first radio hit Santa’s Depression and second single Feeling Alive, which proved Gomo to be innovative and unusual.