The first time I heard Rosalía was through a friend, who sent me a link to her song ‘Malamente’. It was catchy, without a doubt – her modern twist on flamenco was a breath of fresh air on modern Spanish music -, but at that time she was only just gaining prominence in her native country, Spain. What was then a song by a relatively unknown artist confined to her small fanbase suddenly became a global phenomenon, turning the heads of some of the biggest musicians, including J Balvin and Dua Lipa.
Born and raised in Barcelona, Rosalía grew up inspired by flamenco and with dreams of becoming a singer. She studied the traditional dance style at the Superior School of Music of Catalonia, mentored by Chiqui de la Línea, a senior Professor in cante flamenco. This is where Rosalía would create El Mal Querer, her graduate thesis which later became a Grammy-award-winning album.
She’s no longer acknowledged as just a singer from Spain, but rather, a global sensation.
El Mal Querer, which translates to ‘Bad Loving’, is based on a 13th-century novel titled Flamenca. Like the text, Rosalía’s album explores themes of passion, love, and loss, with poetic imagery and flamenco tradition, yet she merges this with urban sounds, allowing her to transform the dance and bring it to a new generation.
Some of the biggest names in flamenco praise Rosalía for her modern twist on traditional Spanish music: it resurrected a genre which was dying out amongst the youth of modern Spain.
What is most fascinating about her is that her album, which could simply be interpreted as alternative Spanish pop, carries a much deeper meaning. The entire production honours flamenco tradition, varying from the themes, imagery, vocals and rhythm.
She’s professionaly trained in Flamenco dance, yet switches out her long-tailed skirts and heeled shoes for trainers and bodysuits
This has earned Rosalía worldwide critical acclaim. “The music is connected with my roots, with my culture, but it’s also connected with the rest of the world”, she told the New York Times in 2018.
She is one of the few Spanish singers to gain so much recognition on an international scale. Alongside her five Latin Grammys, Rosalía also took home the Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Urban/Alternative Album, and became the first Spanish musician to be nominated for Best New Artist. She’s no longer acknowledged as just a singer from Spain, but rather, a global sensation.
Rosalía is vibrant and electric – much like the equally passionate and intense dance style she favours
What is so captivating about Rosalía? She’s professionally trained in Flamenco dance, yet switches out her long-tailed skirts and heeled shoes for trainers and bodysuits. She composes traditional dance pieces but has also collaborated with reggaeton stars like J Balvin and rappers such as Travis Scott.
What she brings to the stage is truly mesmerizing, from her hypnotic vocals, psychedelic visuals, her backup dancers, and a Cuadra, which is essentially a flamenco band comprised of singers, a guitar and palmas (hand-clapping). She manages to bring together both contemporary pop and the flamenco genre – a feat not only appealing to the younger Spanish generations, but to the world beyond.
Rosalía is vibrant and electric – much like the equally passionate and intense dance style she favours. While adapting tradition to a more contemporary style, she conveys those themes nonetheless. She is undoubtedly becoming an international sensation, bringing her music to different audiences and experimenting with genres. Throughout all of this, she never fails to stick to her Spanish heritage – that is what makes her stand out.
Boar Music recommends:
- Di Mi Nombre
- Barefoot in the Park
- Que No Salga la Luna.