Review: Rosalía is an Enigma in her 'Motomami' Tour

by Christopher Ehlers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday September 22, 2022

Like so many other one-named artists, Spanish singer Rosalía is a singular creation. Her ascent began in 2018 with the release of her hit single "Malamente," which won her major attention for the first time in her career. Her sophomore album, "El Mal Querer," made her a star, winning the Latin Grammy for Album of the Year and a place on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list. Not a bad feat for an international artist who hasn't turned 30 yet.

Her third album, "Motomami," is earning reviews as enthusiastic as those for her first two albums, and some even have it shortlisted for a possible Album of the Year nomination at next year's Grammys. As for myself, I named it one of the best albums of 2022 so far, and it's grown on me even more, particularly after catching her "Motomami" tour, which will play North America through October before heading to Europe.

Rosalía is a leading figure in Latin music, and along with it one of the major players in helping Latin music become the fastest growing genre in the United States. She's so major, in fact, that she even earned a coveted Best New Artist Grammy nomination two years ago, a huge achievement for an international artist. And while her many gifts are evident on her albums, seeing her live convinced me just how special she really is.

It would be easy to dismiss someone with songs titled "Chicken Teriyaki" and "CUUUUuuuuuute" as just another kitschy pop star. But the alluring thing about Rosalía is that she can do it all, and she does it at such a high level that you can't help but be sit back in awe. Her music has deep roots in Spanish folk music, and she earned a master's degree in flamenco interpretation, which is how she began her career. She works those folk and flamenco roots into her pop music, which creates a compelling, innovative sound that can only be hers. "Motomami," in particular, takes reggaeton music and mixes it with traditional Latin music and even jazz.

In live performance, "De Aquí No Sales" was mesmerizing, weaving a Latin folk sound with cutting edge beats and sounds, creating a sonic landscape that might as well be Rosalía's trademark. Another highlight was "G3 N15," a stripped-down ballad that she wrote about not being able to see her 11-year-old nephew during the pandemic. But it was her performance of "Hentai" that has stuck with me the longest: It's lovely on the album, but it's almost otherworldly in person. Accompanying herself on the piano, her crystalline voice makes the sexually-charged ballad sound like a hymn. In fact, if you didn't know that she was singing lyrics like "I wanna ride you like I ride my bike," you'd swear she was singing something profound.

My sole gripe with the actual performance is the clumsy way in which an onstage cameraman followed her around, recording her every move for the big screen on the stage. This might be effective in a massive stadium or arena tour, but in a 5,000 seat theater it's just not necessary, and more often than not it got in the way of us watching Rosalía.

With her single "Saoko" having recently gone viral on TikTok and "Motomami" becoming the best reviewed album of the year on Metacritic, there's no denying that Rosalía's star is firmly on the rise. And after seeing her many gifts up close and personal, the sky's the limit.