Whatever you thought you knew about Spanish-language pop music, Rosalía will make you rethink the whole thing. She’s a 25-year-old singer (full name Rosalía Vila Tobella), hailing from Catalonia, Spain. And she’s turning heads and turning pop trends upside down with her music.
Rosalía’s music is rooted in flamenco, which she has studied since a young age, and has found just the right way to situate her classical training alongside Justin Timberlake and Arthur Russell samples, glossy synths and hip-hop swing.
She does not rip the flamenco rule book up, but definitely adds new chapters…
The rhythm tracks are decorated with flamenco palmas and the arrangements are minimal wisps of electronics and bass, with Rosalía’s vocals front and centre.
She is, of course, a big star in her mother country, and she’s conquering new territory for each passing day, including the US and Europe.
Her first album (Los Ángeles from 2017) was full of reworks of flamenco classics, and it made Rosalía a name to watch out for. The following year she released the stunning El Mal Querer (translates to ‘a bad desire’). It’s noticeably more experimental and a concept album: each track comes with a chapter and subtitle, revolving around a toxic relationship. The critics loved it (she’s been called a “complicated genius” and a “rule-defying renegade” and her approach is “redefining pop”), and it has now made Rosalía a name to remember!
El Mal Querer earned Rosalía no less than five Latin Grammy Award nominations (she took home two: ‘best alternative song’ for hit single “Malamente” and ‘best urban fusion/performance’).
When Rosalía performs she has a dance squad with her on-stage, aesthetically playing on the snappy poise of traditional flamenco dancing. She perfectly transitions from choreo-driven moments to vocal acrobatics without stopping for a breath. Audiences are often witnessed being completely silent when Rosalía sings, in awe of her immense and intimate expression.
So, start taking those language courses and be ready for some flamenco-flavoured pop music when Rosalía plays Roskilde Festival 2019.