Tico-Tico no Fubá

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"Tico-Tico no fubá" (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈtʃiku ˈtʃiku nu fuˈba]; "rufous-collared sparrow in the cornmeal") is a Brazilian choro song written by Zequinha de Abreu in 1917. Its original title was "Tico-Tico no farelo" ("sparrow in the bran"), but since Brazilian guitarist Américo Jacomino "Canhoto" (1889–1928) had a work with the same title,[1] Abreu's work was given its present name in 1931, and sometime afterward Aloysio de Oliveira wrote the original Portuguese lyrics.

Outside Brazil, the song reached its peak popularity in the 1940s, with successful recordings by Ethel Smith, The Andrews Sisters (with English-language lyrics by Ervin Drake), Carmen Miranda and others.

Notable recordings[edit]

The first recording of the work was made by Orquestra Colbaz (Columbia 22029, 1931).[2]

Ethel Smith performed it on the Hammond organ in the MGM film Bathing Beauty (1944), after which her recording reached the U.S. pop charts in November 1944, peaked at No. 14 on January 27, 1945, and sold nearly two million copies worldwide.[3][4]

The song was recorded by The Andrews Sisters on March 7, 1944[5] and it briefly reached the charts.[6][7]

In film and television[edit]

Year Film Director, Performers
1942 Saludos Amigos, "Aquarela do Brasil" segment Norman Ferguson / Wilfred Jackson / Jack Kinney / Hamilton Luske / Bill Roberts
1942 Rio Rita S. Sylvan Simon, Eros Volusia and her dancers
1943 Thousands Cheer George Sidney
1944 Bathing Beauty George Sidney, Ethel Smith
1944 Kansas City Kitty Del Lord
1944 Abacaxi Azul Ruy Costa
1945 The Gay Senorita Arthur Dreifuss
1945 Club Havana Edgar G. Ulmer
1945 It's a Pleasure William A. Seiter
1947 Copacabana Alfred E. Green, Carmen Miranda
1952 Tico-Tico no Fubá Adolfo Celi
1953 Estrella sin luz Ernesto Cortázar
1958 Yo quiero ser artista Tito Davison
1978 The Muppet Show Annie Sue with other pigs accompanying
1987 Radio Days Woody Allen
1994 Radioland Murders Mel Smith
2004 Ma vie en cinémascope Denise Filiatrault
2006 Zuzu Angel Sérgio Rezende
2013 Behind the Candelabra Steven Soderbergh
2016 A Luta Bruno Bennec
2020 Hunters Nelson McCormick

In Quebec the song has been used for several decades in commercials for Sico paint.

In season three of Mama's Family, episode "An Ill Wind", an intoxicated Iola briefly sings the song's chorus before passing out onto a bed.

This song can be heard on various episodes of the Belgian Kabouter Wesley cartoon.

In season one of Narcos: Mexico, episode 3 ("El Padrino"), the orchestral version of the song is played by a band during a reception.

Other uses[edit]

This song was often performed by the Grateful Dead during their tuning jams between songs. It was also played as an instrumental by James Booker with the Jerry Garcia Band.

This song was used in Tom and Jerry in the episode "Muscle Beach Tom", where Tom's rival, Butch is seen dancing with a female cat.

This song was performed in the closing ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

This song was adapted to the 2016 video games Just Dance 2017 and Civilization VI.

This song was remixed with a baile funk melody during the opening of Brazilian pop singer Anitta's set for Rock in Rio Lisboa 2018.[8]

References to the song[edit]

A biographical movie about Zequinha de Abreu with the same title, Tico-Tico no Fubá was produced in 1952 by the Brazilian film studio Companhia Cinematográfica Vera Cruz, starring Anselmo Duarte as Abreu.

The title phrase also features in the lyrics to the song "O Pato" made famous by João Gilberto.[9]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Américo Jacomino Canhoto – Discografia". Dicionário Cravo Albin da Música Popular Brasileira. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  2. ^ "Orquestra Colbaz – Discografia". Dicionário Cravo Albin da Música Popular Brasileira. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  3. ^ "Disks With Most Radio Plugs" (PDF). The Billboard. 27 (4): 16. January 27, 1945. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  4. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Ethel Smith – Biography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  5. ^ Sforza, John (2000). Swing It! - The Andrews Sisters Story. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. p. 226. ISBN 0-8131-2136-1.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 28. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  7. ^ a b Gilliland, John. (197X). "Pop Chronicles 1940s Program #20 - All Tracks UNT Digital Library". Digital.library.unt.edu. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  8. ^ "Anitta - Tico-Tico no Fubá | Abertura Rock In Rio Lisboa 2018". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-14. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  9. ^ "O Pato – João Gilberto". Letras.mus.br. Retrieved December 11, 2016.

External links[edit]