M from 'Motomami': Three ideas to understand (better) the new Rosalía

M from 'Motomami': Three ideas to understand (better) the new Rosalía

'Motomami' is the musical event of the year, Rosalía's return after 'El mal Quiero'. How to understand such an eclectic album? The authors develop three ideas that can help to better understand Rosalía's performative proposals


LARO OF THE RIVER Predoctoral researcher in Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature, University of Oviedo

Thursday, March 24, 2022, 10:06

If it is already difficult to talk about music in general, it is even more difficult to talk about Motomami. What for some is "funny" and "unsightly rubbish", for others is an exercise in experimentalism worthy of modern art. There are those who find virtuosity and those who find empty artificiality. Evolution or betrayal of the essence. Honesty or marketing. Casual or ridiculous. Vanguard or populism.

For all these reasons, we bring three ideas that (we hope) can help not so much to position ourselves in one of those two poles as to better understand Rosalía's performative proposals.

The potential of contemporary music to play with realism, the limits between the artistic and the advertising or social networks is undeniable. It also seems evident that Rosalía has something; beyond that she, under all the media spotlights, she still manages to transcend the forces of aesthetic "normality" ("when the horse enters Troy, you trust and it burned, uh, no").

Now we just have to learn to enjoy the fire: «I am the girl of fire», «and fire is beautiful because it breaks everything».

Motomami is a self portrait

This has been admitted in an interview by the artist herself. And, from that moment, Motomami is not consistent, he is not homogeneous. We understand that neither Rosalía (nor anyone) is. He is not completely "pretty" either, nor understandable. It's not even just music. It is necessary to think about this new celebrity Rrrosalía from a space that fragments the subject. Her identity is mobile, her self is under construction. And each song on the album gives us some pieces of a puzzle that never ends. In fact, the entire reality surrounding the artist becomes an aesthetic motif: from the nails, as was evident, to the stories, statements or public friendships.

Motomami is not a second part either, it is not a continuation of The bad love. And so she lets us know: «A motomami gladly destroys her previous works to make way for the following works» (the bug that devours itself, Ignatius Farray would say). Just as it would not be logical to ask for unity, we do not demand continuity.

It is true that the rupture that Rosalía proposes forces us to keep in mind her previous works. But that doesn't mean I owe them anything. This is how the album opens: «I am very mine, I transform myself».

That is why the symbol of the butterfly is omnipresent, although this metamorphosis should not be thought of in simple terms: before it was A, now it is B. A motomami is diverse, complex, contradictory; a motomami has irreconcilable tastes. As soon as she sings you por bulerías (“Bulerías”) or a ballad (“Sakura”) as she dances you a bachata (“La fame”) or one of those songs that could be classified as urban (“Diablo”).

In a single song, it accompanies a reference to Winsin and Daddy Yankee with jazz motifs ("Saoko"), just at the moment in which the latter retires. Or he exhausts you with a clue with an autobiographical microencyclopedia ("a for alpha, height, alien […] z of blackberry, zapateao... or fox too"). It is not a question of content or style (“fuck the style”): anything goes, everything adds up to the extent that it feeds the –impossible– image of Rosalía.

Motomami is a song to God and to sex, in that order?

With this rebirth, Rosalía once again makes it clear that her poetry is off-road (“I didn't base my career on having hits / because I have the base”) and forces her audience to stir in their seats. We have a good example in the treatment of religion and sex.

In fact, the use of faith as a place of enunciation has become habitual in music, both at the lyrical level and at the performative level (symbols, gestures, iconography...). Now then, Rosalía subverts the divine order without the need to proclaim herself an “atheist” (“You are the one who pimps / or they pimp you. / I chose my side from the day I was born”).

After the spiritual journey through the San Juan tradition in Los Angeles and the feminist liturgy of El mal querer, that is, once religion has been profaned and emptied of all content ("this is not evil wanting, / it is evil desire"), Motomami comes to resignify the body and make viewers participate in an energy that interrupts all codification: "Here the best artist is God."

In «Hentai», like a fucker, he proclaims the empowerment of spirituality and eroticism as sources of the creative act, of pleasure. Go to the paroxysm ("I beat it / until it was assembled") and to the demystification of all canon (theological or aesthetic, with that verse so overflowing with syllables and ending in "whores": in the subject of more virtuosity, the gravel emphasizes the humanity of the diva and of the orgasm). He thus locates the socio-symbolic order of sex and religion in the inconsequential and everyday (“so so good”), and adopts an attitude on stage that completely defines the human being: his happy ending (“mmmh, hentai”) .

It thus translates the immediate sexual drive, but does not require more weight than its evidence. Embracing us in rhetorical and subliminal excess, the only narrative "gestures" of the projected image, as "Bizcochito" or "La combi Versace" demonstrate, Rosalía puts capitalism, emotions, desire and consumption at the service of affections to include us in its transformation and invite us to pure enjoyment.

motomami is viral

In today's music there is a tendency to show the laws of marketing to make them art. Rosalía goes further: she not only shows them, she models them.

That is why Motomami works as a viral archive while drinking from viral aesthetics. "Chicken Teriyaki" captures the cute/kawaii in a TikTok dance. "Diablo" plays with the treble typical of Instagram voice filters. The first concert after the release of the album was broadcast online and, as was announced in a message at the beginning, the "piece [fue] created to be viewed from a mobile device.

Somehow, Rosalía manages to represent for the first time the reality of a generation still with hardly any references in the international market, taking sets as significant in the world of entertainment as Saturday Night Live.

Perhaps this explains why he has both fans and haters. While, let's say, Tangana receives constant praise for "daring" with all genres, Rosi ("without card") always appears on the edge of the precipice: she falls in love with some, but also runs into widespread rejection time and again. Her songs are almost too modern, they refer to a reality that we still don't know if she will end up seeming kitsch to us. Perhaps because they are founding an unprecedented taste.

The one who knows, knows

that if I'm in this it's to break,

And if I break with this,

So I'll break.

This article has been published in The Conversation

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