The 50 best albums of 2022: No 5 – Rosalía: Motomami
An experimental album that draws on so many contradictory styles might embarrass a lesser artist – but her third LP showed the Spanish singer has the pop smarts to pull it off
“Yo soy muy mía, yo me transformo,” sings Rosalía, on Motomami’s opening track – I’m very much me, I transform – before going on to compare her shapeshifting abilities to those of a butterfly, a drag queen, a “sex siren” and the night sky during a meteor shower. Given that she’s singing all this over a backing track where jazzy drums and free piano improvisation crash into a reggaeton beat nicked from Daddy Yankee and Wisin’s 2004 hit Saoco, and a synth so filthily distorted it could find a home on a Nine Inch Nails album, it’s a lyric that amounts to stating the obvious, albeit very entertainingly.
It’s not a collection of sounds that many mainstream pop stars would chose to open the follow-up to their 2m-selling international breakthrough album. But Rosalía’s third album delights in flinging diverse, even contradictory styles together – dembow, hip-hop, dubstep, salsa, industrial, bachata, the experimental electronics of Arca, R&B, flamenco, pure radio-ready pop – and presenting the results to the listener with an insouciant take-it-or-leave-it shrug. It’s the work of an artist who clearly sees her success as a platform that enables you to do what you want rather than an end itself. “Es mala amante la fama y no va a quererme de verdad,” as the Weeknd puts it on their collaboration La Fama: fame’s a lousy lover and won’t ever love you for real. Better to exploit it to your own ends than chase it.