It’s happened, people: Rosalía, the Spanish worldwide pop sensation, has released her first single of 2020, Juro Qué. Surprising no one, both of our Spanish staff writers wanted to talk about it. If you have not yet heard of Rosalía, don’t worry, Ainhoa and Guillermo are here to get you up to speed! Please find their respective takes on the song below.
- co-written by Ainhoa Santos Goicoechea & Guillermo Fernandez -
In the last few years, I have seen every kind of praise fall upon Rosalía. I have heard listeners praise her wonderful vocals, her strong performances and her unapologetically gaudy style. Now, I am here to add onto that list with the following contribution: Rosalía is a wonderful storyteller.
If you know of the pop-star’s trajectory, however, that should be obvious. After all, the album that earned her international acclaim, El Mal Querer, is a captivating and nuanced retelling of a 13th Century tale of gendered violence and abuse. It is also undeniable that, in spite of everything her last couple of singles had to offer - catchy choruses, new languages, and even a darker creative direction - a narrative as such was never at their creative core.
This is what Juro Que brings back to the table. As a single, not only does it function as a return to flamenco, but as a return to one of the folk genre’s defining lyrical aspects: the telling of stories. And in the same way as Rosalía plays with flamenco by giving it her personal artistic touch, so does she twist an otherwise familiar tale using a fresh, feminist perspective.
In Juro Que, Rosalía takes on the persona of a young woman whose lover has been sent to prison. Throughout the song, one listens as her character evolves from a heartbroken victim to a proactive, determined, and even criminal subject ready to take matters into her own hands. In other words, the song rejects the idea of Rosalía’s character being a powerless victim, but as someone strong enough to fight a system that is keeping her from the man she loves.
The music video released alongside this single helps to illustrate this story. As it progresses, Rosalía’s infantile pink outfit and sparkly lip gloss are replaced by a more grown-up matte lipstick and yellow get-up as her character swaps her distress over her lover’s imprisonment for a focus on getting him out. Rosalía’s character arc then culminates with a decidedly more violent threat to join her lover in prison by robbing a bank, a statement whose seriousness and unrelenting passion are accentuated by her bright red suit and matching lipstick. As she stands on a table, towering above her awe-struck lover who watches her from his cell, one might almost think she is about to free him by breaking through the glass that divides them. In this way, Rosalía’s decidedly female-centric storytelling returns to her music, transforming an archetypal 'would-be victim' into a force to be reckoned with. A gripping story for a gripping single.
I must admit for how much I praise and speak of Rosalía to my friends and family on a daily basis, I used to dislike her. It’s not that her music was bad, because I hadn’t even tried to listen, I just did not like her. Thankfully, my close friend texted me one morning saying ‘ROSALÍA JUST ANNOUNCED A CONCERT IN LONDON, DO YOU WANT TO GO?’ to which I replied, ‘why not?’. From there on, the only thing I can do is praise Rosalía, her artistry; her aura. Literally everything she embodies and puts out is a highly stylized and quite flawless product that not that many singers nowadays can compete with. She makes me feel proud of the so-called ‘marca España’ in a globalised world saturated with Anglo-American pop culture; this is why I have a hard time being completely critical over any new project Rosalía puts out.
2019 was Rosalía’s year. Big collaborations with reggaeton artists like J Balvin and Ozuna, featured in one of Travis Scott’s remixes, as well as her solo projects and a general appraisal from western media outlets and celebrities. She tried a few different musical styles in her new releases, always bringing her own flare to them. Rosalía’s music is always trying to play with style, bringing nuance and an aesthetic quality that hits home where other popular singers like Lizzo or Billie Eilish just can’t. Rosalía transmits to me my Spanish culture, the Christian undertones that are present in her music, flamenco and her dance moves to name a few. But now we are in 2020, and new single Juro Que might just have been her biggest gamble yet though her return to the purer, flamenco-inspired pop that made her take the spotlight with the critically acclaimed album El Mal Querer.
The track begins with a guitar riff (flamenco style) and the signature clapping syncopation marking the very defined rhythm of the piece. We then hear a very distorted and autotuned voice stating ‘la Rosalía’ branding not only this song as hers, but perhaps even this genre hers; it could not feel less deserved. The flamenco inspired hollering we listen from the back up singers act to reinforce the fast rhythm, adding Spanish flavour and creating a hierarchy by placing Rosalía’s voice at the centre stage of single and using the other voices to praise her.
The sparse instrumentation of Juro Que allows each element of the song to shine on their own without it being too overwhelming, with Rosalía’s voice, Spanish guitar, electric guitar, clapping, autotune and hollering as the main sounds used one can only exclaim a very Spanish olé to her exquisite production and composition skills. Rosalía plays with the layering in her composition sometimes keeping the piece stripped down with only her voice or bringing in the electric guitar at the end of the phrase to give emphasis and anxiety allowing the creation of the storytelling that is present in the single. Juro Que is not just a single but a whole concept, it is not a reggaeton song you know will sell or a trap style single, which is so popular nowadays, but a return to her flamenco roots and to a style that until she appeared a couple years ago was losing relevance in the Spanish youth and the global market. This is the reason why I believe it is one of her best singles to this day.
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Ainhoa Santos Goikoetxea (pronounced "I-know-ah") is a culturally confused third-year English student from the Basque Country, Spain. She is passionate about film, music and politics, and she should probably know more than she does about all three.
Guille Fernandez is music lover who studied the cello for almost 10 years before moving to the UK to study English literature at King's College, London.
Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based in London, England. Subscribe to our mailing list below to be alerted every time a post is published on the site.