In the political turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s, music emerged as an essential form of social and political engagement in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. However, in spite of the similar historical context, the música popular brasileira (MPB) of this period is rarely considered in connection with the nueva canción latinoamericana. This paper analyzes how these distinct and parallel movements responded to social and political needs in the years prior to and during the military dictatorships in Brazil and the Southern Cone. Exploring the qualities typical of the nueva canción found in the MPB songs of Geraldo Vandré, Chico Buarque, and Milton Nascimento underscores the similarities between the two categories. Through a comparative study, I argue that these musical forms responded to parallel social and political needs in distinct ways in order to reinforce specific discursive constructions of national identity and popular culture, as well as to confirm existing understandings of politically committed music.