Rosalía evaluation – pop’s fearless queen conjures a kaleidoscopic paradise

Tright here’s a meme format going round the place a picture of an odd-looking fellow – the original being Wayne Rooney in a vacuum-tight swimsuit – is paired with the caption: “Nobody has ever seemed like this earlier than.” Even in an age of infinite bootlegs, remakes and copycats, the shock of the brand new is reassuringly enduring.

And till this yr, absolutely, nobody has ever thought they had been watching the best pop efficiency on the planet as a singer and eight dancers zipped across the stage on micro-scooters whereas making bunny-ear gestures and shouting: “Hen teriyaki!”

That is only one slice of the loco pop universe offered by Rosalía in the course of the penultimate present of her 52-date Motomami world tour, a kaleidoscopic fusion of Latin pop, people custom, avant-garde beats and TikTok-ready photos. Her marathon set –which stretches to greater than 30 songs, together with a reggaeton block-party set-piece the place followers be part of her on stage – is heralded by revving engines and blinding white lights as she and her troupe march on stage in glowing motorbike helmets.

Carrying thigh-high boots and a pink and black leather-based skirt and jacket, the Spanish singer is half biker, half butterfly. The present, just like the album, begins with the snarling jazz-reggaeton fusion of Saoko. “Yo soy muy mía, yo me transformo / una mariposa, yo me transformo” she chants (“I’m very a lot me, I rework myself / a butterfly, I rework myself.”)

Motomami is the sound of Rosalía altering lanes at excessive velocity. In 2018 she scored an unlikely hit with El Mal Querer, an album of eccentric avant-pop that requested what would occur for those who cracked open the flamenco custom with a distorted kick drum and a Justin Timberlake melody. The reply was an armful of Latin Grammys and collaborations with la flor y nata of Spanish- and English-language stars, together with Dangerous Bunny, Billie Eilish, J Balvin and Travis Scott. With superstardom already assured, Motomami – and its related tour – is targeted on the bumping rhythms of reggaeton, dembow, bachata and numerous different world pop kinds.

The stage on the O2 is just about naked besides for 2 video screens linked as much as iPhone cameras that cross between Rosalía and her dancers. They encompass her like paparazzi throughout La Fama, a sensual bachata duet recorded with the Weeknd. Later she brings a digicam right down to the viewers for La Noche de Anoche, a collab with Puerto Rican rapper Dangerous Bunny, and movies the boys within the entrance row as they nail each line.

‘Rosalía is in her own lane’ … Rosalía performs at The O2, London.
‘Rosalía is in her personal lane’ … Rosalía performs at The O2, London. {Photograph}: Samir Hussein/WireImage

There are not any outfit modifications, there isn’t a backstage. At one level Rosalía slumps right into a barber’s chair, hacks off her lengthy black plaits and throws them into the gang. She wipes off all her make-up but by some means seems to be much more pristine than earlier than. Rappers used to say “my life is sort of a film”. For Rosalía it’s a TikTok – a platform the place she has 28m followers – and we’re all behind the scenes along with her. By drawing consideration to the screens slightly than simply utilizing them to show herself, she affords an ironic meta-reading of this glittering popworld whereas giving us the intense close-up we actually need.

If one setup doesn’t attraction, there’s one other coming. A grand piano seems for Hentai, a dreamy Disney ballad about driving her boyfriend’s pistola, which she sings right into a cellphone strapped to the keyboard. When she pretends to chew gum, the gang erupts in recognition of Bizcochito, a hopscotching reggaeton rap which dropped on TikTok with a viral video.

She is fitted with an infinite black flamenco skirt that followers throughout all the stage to belt out De Plata, a windswept epic from her flamenco-focused debut album Los Ángeles. Such static moments deliver out the extremes of her extraordinary voice. There’s the fluttery soprano with its mohair scratch, gliding by way of higher registers like one other pop icon, Mariah Carey. However lurking beneath is a melismatic wail, scalding as sizzling steel and moulded by her coaching on the Catalonia School of Music. Rosalía’s grandmother, an enormous affect on the album (she seems in a voicenote on G3 N15) had needed her progeny to be an opera singer like Maria Callas.“I all the time dreamed of performing on the Royal Albert Corridor,” Rosalía tells us wistfully, visibly amazed to be taking part in a London venue 4 instances its measurement.

However there’s no time to dwell on what might need been. Squeezing in virtually each music from Motomami, Rosalía offers us the sweat from her forehead – and presumably her leathers – for nearly two stable hours. We dance, we cry, a number of individuals faint. The apex of pop artistry is to be the whole lot to everybody; to offer quick gratification and infinite complexity. One of the best comparisons appear to contain caveats: is she Frank Ocean with twice as many hits? Björk with dance routines? Kanye with a persona transplant?

Actually, Rosalía is in her personal lane. It’s one factor to put in writing an album of Spanish pop songs and watch them go viral in nations that don’t communicate the language. It’s one other to take a sweeping examine of folks custom and alchemise it right into a full-beam area expertise. And to do all of it on a micro-scooter? Maria Callas may by no means.

  • This text was up to date on 16 December 2022. Rosalía was carrying black thigh-high boots and a pink and black skirt and jacket, not pink and black thigh-high boots as beforehand said.

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