Never underestimate the power of a global sporting event – aided by a supermodel – to drive interest in a song, artist or composer.
Google Trends shows that worldwide searches for “The Girl from Ipanema” spiked dramatically after Daniel Jobim performed the bossa nova classic during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Aug. 5, with Gisele Bundchen strutting across the arena in Rio de Janeiro (the graphs may take a moment to appear).
According to Google, its charts represent search interest “relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time.” A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. Spotify reported a similar boost for the song, with some 40,000 streams of the song the day after the opening ceremony, a 1,200 percent increase.
For a comparison of relative popularity, here is a Google Trends graph showing searches for the soprano Renée Fleming. The spike in February 2014 traffic correlates with her performance of the national anthem at that year’s Super Bowl.
Soprano Anna Netrebko‘s performance of the Olympic Hymn at the opening ceremony to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia brought a more modest boost in Google searches. To be fair, her material made her less the center of attention, and the performance came amid a lavish, music-heavy ceremony.
Then there’s Lang Lang. The flamboyant pianist generally has no trouble getting publicity and he’s seen as a role model for millions of young Chinese pianists. Google is officially blocked by the Chinese government, so the search engine’s data is missing one of his largest fan bases. Regardless, Lang Lang’s performance at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing also yielded a peak number of searches for his name.
Time will tell if the closing ceremony in Rio brings a similar classical flourish.
Photo: Opening Ceremony to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (photo: Andy Miah/Flickr).