Spanish artist Rosalía should be next on your party playlist

Words by Kate Streader

A melting pot of jazz, reggaeton, bachata, electronica and so much more.

She’s performed on the runway at a Savage x Fenty show, acted alongside Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, and teamed up with Billie Eilish for a collaborative track that features on Euphoria.

She was the first Spanish-singing artist ever to be nominated for the Grammy’s Best New Artist Award in 2020, the same year she took home the Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album award for El Mal Querer. The award is just one of many she’s collected over the past five years.

Get better acquainted with our favourite artists at FJ’s Music section.

It feels like Rosalía is everywhere, with her finger in as many pies as she can reach.

At the age of 15, Rosalía had her first brush with fame when she appeared on the Spanish reality TV singing competition Tú sí que vales. While she didn’t win, her moment in the spotlight seemingly fuelled her dream of becoming a performing artist.

She went on to study flamenco at the exclusive Catalonia College of Music, which accepts just one student each year. The traditional Spanish music style dates back to the 1700s, though Rosalía puts a contemporary spin on the genre by incorporating elements of RnB, hip-hop and pop.

She describes her introduction to flamenco at 13 as a “turning point”, becoming obsessed with the music style over the following years. And while she doesn’t want to be known solely for flamenco, it’s served as a solid foundation for the eclectic sound she’s since built.

In 2017, Rosalía released her debut album Los Angeles, a contemporary flamenco album. Her thesis project from the Catalonia College of Music then formed her second album, El Mal Querer (“Bad Love”), released in 2018.

It’s uncommon for non-English singing artists to reach mainstream success in places like the US, UK, and Australia – especially one whose music is rooted in a traditional style of Spanish folk music – yet there is a power to Rosalía’s sound that defies language barriers.

Whether she’s rapping or singing, her voice is full of a fire that means you don’t need to understand her lyrics to feel the full force of her passion. And as for her sound, it’s unequivocally one-of-a-kind.

Fiercely feminine and unapologetically herself, Rosalía embraces her femininity and sexuality and portrays them on her own terms. Feminism is implicit in everything she does and whether it’s the focal point or an undertone, it’s ever-present in her music.

Her highly-anticipated third album Motomami is out today via Sony Music Entertainment Australia. Exploring sex, relationships, heartbreak, transformation, celebration, self-respect and fame, Motomami is the most vulnerable we’ve seen Rosalía yet.

She released three singles from the album in the lead-up to its release, ‘Saoko’, ‘Chicken Teriyaki’ and ‘La Fama’ featuring The Weeknd.

As well as touching on new themes, the record sees her expanding her sound – it’s a melting pot of jazz, reggaeton, bachata, electronica and so much more.

It’s a record that pits piano melodies against electronic beats, and draws from a spectrum of influences ranging from Nina Simone to Lil’ Kim and Patti Smith to Bach.

A concept album, Motomami is split into two distinct parts with ‘Moto’ reflecting the experimental, bold part of the album and ‘Mami’ serving as the album’s personal, vulnerable side.

It flits between danceable tracks, including singles ‘Saoko’ and ‘Chicken Teriyaki’ which are sure to become 2022 dancefloor mainstays, set alongside stripped-back, soul-baring ballads like ‘Candy’ and ‘Hentai’ which put Rosalía’s vocal abilities on full display.

A self-portrait of “a feminine figure building herself”, Motomami encapsulates the frantic energy of the world around her and the isolation of the past few pandemic years, and channels them into a collection of songs spanning joy to grief.

The album encapsulates our duality as human beings, unpacking Rosalía’s own ups and downs in life, love and the spotlight. In doing so, this collection of songs showcases her dexterity as a musician who is both a fierce rapper and a phenomenal flamenco crooner with an incredible knowledge of music to draw from.

Impossible to define by rattling off genres, the album is the culmination of things that have shaped Rosalía and influenced her in myriad ways – she draws from film, fashion, book, music and life. That’s what makes Rosalía’s music so inimitable, she pours her whole self into what she does.

Put simply, Motomami is a reflection of everyday life for Rosalía in her new world in which she’s still finding her footing as a global star. Her most honest, introspective work yet, the record tells us this is only the beginning for Rosalía.

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