The BBC Sound of 2019 countdown has begun, with rising flamenco star Rosalía. The arrival of Rosalía sets a new tone for the UK charts, with the Catalan-born star introducing UK audiences to flamenco music.
Speaking to the BBC, about making the longlist, Rosalía said: “Thank you so much! I’m really happy. I’ve discovered a lot of music by listening to the BBC – but it was a big surprise that I could have a space on this list, you know?”
The 25-year-old is revolutionising flamenco by, turning it on its head and giving it a modern twist, combining its melismas and palmas, otherwise known as hand clapping, to the sounds and attitude of hip-hop. This has earned the singer fifth place in the BBC Music Sound of 2019, which celebrates acts that have been tipped for success in the forthcoming year.
James Stirling, the head of BBC Music and BBC Music Introducing, said: “For 17 years the BBC Music Sound Of list has been celebrating exciting up-and-coming talent and this year we are proud to recognise the work of such an eclectic mix of musicians. There’s a wealth of talent coming through and I look forward to seeing the artists build their reputations in 2019”.
Rosalía, who was born Rosalía Vila Tobella, in Sant Esteve Sesrovires, Spain, is already a big star in her home country. It was her 2017 debut ‘Los Ángeles’ that got people taking notice. The track spent 67 weeks in the Spanish album chart, with Spain’s ‘La Vanguardia’ describing it as a fusion of old and new world traditions, which has “revolutionised flamenco”.
Meanwhile, her striking video for ‘De Plata’, in which Rosalía performs intricate flamenco moves against a series of Instagram-friendly backdrops, racked up four million views on YouTube. The star soon caught the eye of Pharrell Williams, who invited her to record with him in LA, and Oscar-winning writer-director Pedro Almodóvar, who cast her alongside Penélope Cruz in his next film, Dolor y Gloria.
However, it wasn’t until the release of her second album ‘El Mal Querer’, that she was introduced to a global audience. ‘El Mal Querer’ is a concept record about a toxic relationship retold for the modern day, which was inspired by a 13th Century novel, ‘Flamenca’.
“I had the title before anything else, during the last year of my university degree. I wanted to explore this bad love – las pasiones. You know, like domination, the dark side of love. I wanted to make a record where every song could be a chapter, almost so you could “read” the album. Like, when you hear the third song, maybe you hear it in a different way because you know what happened in chapter two. So I just started looking for references, digging through books to find traditional lyrics,” says Rosalía, speaking about the album and the inspiration behind it.
The album earned her five nominations at the Latin Grammys, where the ominous, bass-busting single ‘Malamente’ won best alternative song and best urban track. Latin pop is continuing to rise, and a major label fighting her corner, 2019 could be a breakthrough year for the rising star, Rosalía.