Rosalía Vila (aka Rosalía) is a Spanish pop and flamenco singer. Involved in the margins of popular and traditional music since her teens, she also delves into other genres such as hip-hop, soul, and trap. Her voice has been described by no less a talent than flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela as “sharp and sweet, but with a bite, like the old ones.” After her 2017 debut album, Los Ángeles, garnered attention from the U.S. public and earned her a Latin Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, her 2018 follow-up, El Mal Querer, was a major critical and commercial breakthrough, topping Billboard’s Latin Pop Albums chart and eventually winning a Grammy. The single “La Fama” featuring the Weeknd appeared in 2021. Her third long-player, Motomami, offered songwriting collaborations with many artists and producers including Cory Henry and James Blake. The set was released in March 2022 following a performance of the single “Chicken Teriyaki” on Saturday Night Live. Rosalía was the first Spanish singer to perform solo on the program. Along with taking home three other Latin Grammy Awards for Motomami, Rosalía also became the first woman to win the Latin Album of the Year twice.
Enthralled by flamenco since childhood, Rosalía (born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1992) began performing as a teenager. She soon assembled an eclectic and intriguing curriculum, including appearances in prestigious Spanish and international festivals, and collaborations with other artists and the theater company La Fura dels Baus. She also began posting videos of her performances to YouTube and gained a substantial number of social media followers.
Rosalía relocated to California in late 2016 after signing to Universal, which issued her debut album, Los Ángeles. The recording was a stripped-down affair of classic and nuevo flamenco songs recorded by maverick producer Raül Refree (Lee Ranaldo, Silvia Pérez Cruz, Las Migas) with only a Spanish guitar as accompaniment. The pair were not only influenced by the historical lineage of early 20th century flamenco, but also by the stripped-down nature and emotional impact of Johnny Cash’s American Recordings album produced by Rick Rubin. To that end, the album’s closer was a reading of Will Oldham’s “I See a Darkness,” also covered by Cash. Issued in early 2017, Los Ángeles garnered universally positive critical reviews, a Latin Grammy nod (during the ceremony, she appeared in a tribute to Alejandro Sanz singing his “Cuando Nadie Me Ve” accompanied by a string section) and appeared on turntablist DJ Swet’s Mudra album on the track “Retsu.” Rosalía also took part in the recording/performance of “Un Largo Viaje” with Fernando Vacas and Lin Cortés all fronting the Royal Gypsy Orchestra. In November, she followed her album with the single “Aunque Es de Noche,” penned by poet San Juan de la Cruz and Enrique Morente.
In the middle of 2018, Rosalía appeared on J Balvin’s single “Billio” from his chart-topping Vibras album, and in its video. In May 2018, she issued a pre-release single and video for her own track “Malamente” that scored more than four million views during its first week on YouTube, helping to push the song onto the streaming charts; it reached number 12 in Spain’s Top 40. In July, she issued a single and video for the feminist empowerment anthem “Pienso en Tu Mirá” as a promo for her feature film debut, Dolor y Gloria, directed by Pedro Almodóvar and starring Penélope Cruz. Rosalía’s music video for the pre-release single “Malamente” garnered 20 million views in Spain within three months, as well as five Latin Grammy nominations, and won two for Best Urban Fusion/Performance and Best Alternative Song. Its follow-up, “Pienso en Tu Mirá,” racked up another 15 million views in its first month or so, which is no mean feat, given that Spain’s population comprises only 46 million people.
Rosalía’s second full-length, El Mal Querer, was produced by El Guincho (Tiga, Los Punsetes) and released in November 2018. It debuted at number one on the Latin Pop Albums chart. 2019 saw her issue the Latin trap, reggaeton, and electro-R&B-tinged single “Aute Cuture.” Another, “Con Altura” featuring J Balvin and El Guincho, topped charts in Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, and Spain, and was the most watched video by a woman that year and the second most viewed overall. She took home the Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album at the 2020 Grammy Awards, and was also nominated for Best New Artist.
2021 saw Rosalía team with Dominican rapper Tokischa on the single “Linda.” Later that year, she issued the electro-bachata track “La Fama,” the Weeknd-assisted lead single from her third full-length effort, Motomami. Appearing in March 2022, the album’s 16 tracks utilized the production talents of Noah Goldstein, Sir Dylan, Tainy, Michael Uzowuru, El Guincho, Sky Rompiendo, and several others. Highly acclaimed upon its release, Motomami topped the albums chart in Spain, reached number three on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart, and peaked at 33 on the Billboard 200. It also took home four Latin Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, marking Rosalía as the first woman to win the award twice. By the end of the year, the record had spawned several more Top 20 Latin hits, including “Candy” and “Despechá.” ~ Thom Jurek & Mariano Prunes