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On Rosalía’s MOTOMAMI, A Superstar Breaks Up with Fame

The Spanish singer-songwriter’s third album breaks genre apart entirely

motomami review rosalia
Rosalia, photo by Daniel Sannwald
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    Rosalía has been carving out new paths specific to her own artistry for as long as she’s been famous. Her debut, 2017’s Los Ángeles, was a concept album built around traditional flamenco structures, with each song using death as a central theme; El Mal Querer (2018), her second album and her baccalaureate project while graduating from college, was deeply inspired by the Occitan novel Flamenca from the 13th century.

    She’s comfortable following her own conceptual interests, but everything she does places respect in the forefront: for the long-established traditions she’s working in and for the artists she’s inspired by, for her genres, and for herself and her own artistry. Seeing this respect blossom in a wholly new yet continuous direction is part of what makes MOTOMAMI a stunning listening experience, even for longtime fans of Rosalía.

    With El Mal Querer, she beckoned listeners to meet her where she was standing, in a medieval-inspired world afflicted by the real-life, modern drama of a toxic relationship. Now she herself is standing amid a new world of fame and accolades. And if El Mal Querer was about a toxic relationship with a lover, MOTOMAMI is about a toxic relationship with fame, in which fame brings all the toxicity.

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    It makes sense to be wary of what effects a sudden acceleration of fame can have on a person, and Rosalía has had nothing if not a sudden acceleration of fame. Six years ago, she was preparing to graduate from the Catalonia College of Music. Now she has one Grammy and eight Latin Grammys, her music is the subject of worldwide renown, and she’s collaborated with artists like Billie Eilish, J Balvin, Tokischa, and James Blake.

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