Spanish star Rosalia exporting flamenco
At 25 and with just two albums, Rosalia has converted her groundbreaking fusion of flamenco with urban and electronic music into a sensation in Spain.
Next up, the world.
“This is a dream,” said the singer as she won two Latin Grammy awards in Las Vegas on Nov. 15, including Best Alternative Song for her hit “Malamente” which she performed in a white bodysuit with female backup dancers in a slick choreography.
Still relatively unknown abroad, the brunette is already a superstar in Spain where she earned acclaim for her diligent study of flamenco, a genre she fell in love with as a teen as she heard it blasted from friends’ cars.
From a non-gypsy background in the northeastern region of Catalonia - far from the cradle of flamenco in southern Andalucia - her first, minimalist 2017 album nevertheless drew praise, attracting millenials to a genre that isn’t mainstream.
Then early this year, she announced she was going to perform at Sonar in Barcelona.
Flamenco at an electronic music festival? Something was up. Then she posted a photo on Instagram of her and Pharrell Williams, with whom she said she was working.
Rosalia and the global pop superstar? Something was definitely up.
At Sonar in June, she unleashed “Malamente”, a blend of flamenco with trap, a style of hip hop, and other tracks on her yet-to-be released second album.
“Sonar really shook things up because the next day, the media... praised her as a new star, and an exportable one at that,” says Yeray Iborra, a journalist at Spain’s Mondo Sonoro music magazine.
This month, she finally released the album “El Mal Querer” (“Bad Loving”) - a bombshell of flamenco fused with trap, electro, pop and R&B that has critics hugely excited.
Some in the gypsy community, though, have cried foul, accusing her of appropriating a genre that emerged as a cry of pain of their long-suffering people.