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Arts & Culture

'Superscorer' Ronaldinho Puts Stamp on CD

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

I'm Madeleine Brand and this is DAY TO DAY.

Brazil's soccer team was bounced from the World Cup this weekend. France upset the defending champions, 1-0. The team may be disappointed, but the loss means that Brazil's soccer star, Ronaldinho, will have more time to concentrate on his other love, music.

The CD Samba Goal is a compilation of Ronaldinho's favorite songs, including one he sung himself. Music critic Sarah Bardeen has this review.

SARAH BARDEEN reporting:

Ronaldinho's song, Goleador or Super Scorer in English, opens the album in stunning style.

Playing samba, playing ball, I belong to the rhythm, he sings. Then I celebrate the night, singing the real samba, letting my feet say it all.

Okay. Cheesy lyrics. But objectively, this is a shockingly good song for a man whose talent lies far south of his vocal chords.

(Soundbite of foreign language song)

BARDEEN: The longer I listened to this album, the more I sensed the personality behind the songs. They may be frothy, but there's a method to the froth.

Gioberto Giles(ph) sings Cicletta con Banana(ph) the way Ronaldinho plays soccer, ping-ponging each note off the next, stretching out some syllables, chopping others short, and then knocking the lyric home with a casual subtle grace.

(Soundbite of foreign language song)

BARDEEN: The rocking disco of Jorge Banes'(ph) Taj Mahal evokes Ronaldinho's famous good nature. Listening to it, you can almost see that winning big-toothed smile of his, which lights up his face no matter what happens on the field. It's just a game, he seems to be saying. Lighten up.

(Soundbite of foreign language song)

BARDEEN: And just for the record, Rod Stewart ripped off that melody for Do You Think I'm Sexy, not the other way around.

Of course, there are a few disappointments. The boring pop of Ache Star Aveteh Sangalo's(ph) Festa or the faux-American Baby Baby chorus of Bambotto Novo's(ph) Bolo de Sabo(ph) are both the worst kind of bubble gum.

And while I love the Tamba Trio's version of Mas Que Nada, it's hardly a risky addition to a Brazilian music compilation. Come on. It's been covered by the Black Eyed Peas.

However, the samba-fied remake of the ubiquitous reggae-toned hit Rakata almost makes up for those slips in taste.

(Soundbite of foreign language song)

BARDEEN: But flaws and all, this release sparkles with a kind of careless joie de vivre. When Ronaldinho plays soccer, he really truly plays, defying gravity and even the laws of matter with magic little foot maneuvers that mystify his opponents and delight his fans.

On his album, some of his favorite songs may mystify you, but the overall effect sings with delight. Delight with both soccer and, I suspect, life itself.

BRAND: The CD is called Samba Goal. Music critic Sarah Bardeen lives in San Francisco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.