Brazilian singer's YouTube hit joins virus fight

Sao Paulo (AFP) –


Singer MC Fioti, the first Brazilian to garner 1.5 billion views on YouTube, has re-cast the tune from that video -- to try to go viral against Covid.

Brazil has lost approximately 213,000 lives to the coronavirus, a toll second only to the United States, and the music-maker is hoping the song -- debuting Friday -- will help push his nation's people to get vaccinated.

MC Fioti has updated "Bum Bum Tam Tam," which exploded on YouTube in 2017, for the grim new reality of a world battling to control a virus that has sickened some 8.6 million people in Brazil.

The artist has changed the song lyrics, which mention the Portuguese word for backside, to include "Butantan" -- the name of the research institute charged with producing the Chinese CoronaVac shot in Brazil.

"The vaccine is going to save a lot of people. Come to Bu-bu-tan-tan," the artist, whose real name is Leandro Aparecido Ferreira, sings in the re-make.

"My song 'Bum Bum Tam Tam' was launched four years ago but it became viral again with the arrival of the vaccine, because internet users linked it to the Butantan institute. It happened on its own," he told AFP.

After seeing what was happening on social media, MC Fioti decided to shoot a new clip inside the research institute.

"Butantan supported me 100 percent. I was very well received," said the 26-year-old artist.

The extras in his new clip are none other than institute employees, who swing their hips at the prestigious establishment to the rhythm of the tune.

- 'People will continue to die' -

The song in Brazilian-style "funk" is imbued with themes like everyday life in the nation's favela shantytowns or sexuality, but this is the genre's first foray into science.

"I find it totally normal that science and medicine are evoked in funk music, because funk adapts easily to any theme, unlike other musical styles which would not dare to do so," the singer added.

Without directly mentioning the nation's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters, MC Fioti regrets that "some people" have pushed Brazilians to doubt the usefulness of the vaccine.

Bolsonaro has minimized the risks of what he initially called "a little flu," -- subsequently catching and recovering from the virus.

"I feel very happy to encourage people to believe in (the vaccine). Through funk, I can speak a lot to the favelas," said MC Fioti, who grew up in one of the poor neighborhoods in an area south of Sao Paulo.

He now lives next to his recording studio with his wife and one-year-old daughter, and says he plans to get the shot, which Brazil began rolling out this week.

"Of course I will get vaccinated," he said. "My fear is that the pandemic will continue and that people will continue to die. If we have a vaccine that can save lives, we must save them."

Vaccination has begun for health professionals, but the logistics of distributing shots are complicated in a gigantic country where a limited numbers of doses are available.

The president of Butantan, Dimas Covas, this week asked Bolsonaro to appeal directly to China to deliver the supplies necessary for his institute to manufacture 40 million CoronaVac doses.

Only 22 percent of Brazilians oppose getting vaccinated, according to the Datafolha polling institute, including the nation's president.