Already a superstar in her native Spain, Rosalía has spent the last year conquering the Globe. A sensation at Coachella, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza and our namesake Austin City Limits Music Festival, winner of two 2018 Latin Grammy Awards and recent recipient of five 2019 nominations, becoming the most nominated female artist for the second consecutive year, the Catalonian singer brought her smash album El Mal Querer and its groundbreaking blend of flamenco, hip-hop, reggaeton and EDM to the ACL stage for a massive taping that thrilled a captivated audience.
Producer Pablo Díaz Reixa (AKA El Guincho), four backup singers and six red-clad dancers took the stage first, joined, to huge cheers, by the star in her matching red sweater, adorned in safety pins. A slow build of ambient synth and choreography led to “Pienso En Tu Mirá,” which matched an atmospheric melody with doubletime flamenco handclaps. New song “Como Alí” upped the hip-hop quotient, leading to more rhythmic dancing and complex choreography. After her dancers left the stage, the charismatic performer expressed how happy she was to be present, given how far from home she was. She introduced the clap-driven ballad “Barefoot in the Park,” her hit collaboration with producer and pop star James Blake that puts the emphasis on her songbird vocals. The dancers returned for another new tune: “De Madrugá,” which proves you can still play flamenco without the traditional guitar accompaniment. The crowd went wild, and the singer looked genuinely touched by the wave of love from the audience. Rosalía then dropped all accompaniment for the first part of “Catalina,” an early twentieth century classic originally performed by legendary Spanish cantaor Manuel Vallejo. The singers eventually added handclaps and Reixa clattering percussion, but the spotlight remained on Rosalía’s voice and her firm grip on flamenco tradition.
After a snippet of “Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero,” the singers began their claps again for “Que No Salga La Luna,” a dramatic tune that alternated her keening vocal and examples of her classical flamenco dance. Rosalía left the stage briefly, allowing the dancers to claim the spotlight for a segue featuring a remix of 70s Romani duo Las Grecas’ “Te estoy amando locamente,” which served as a tribute to an important influence. She returned for “A Ningún Hombre,” which found the singer harmonizing with vocoder backing vocals, which shifted directly to the more sparse “De Aqui No Sales.” Following a quick spotlight on Reixa’s beatmaking, the show shifted more firmly into dance territory, starting with “Di Mi Nombre,” which mixed urban pop with flamenco. “Bagdad” functioned as a ballad, focusing once again on the star’s singing, while “Brillo” – which Rosalía cut with reggaeton artist J Balvin – worked a more sensual groove. Another remix of a classic song – this time flamenco star Parrita’s “Embrujao” – allowed the singer and dancers to hit a hip-hop flavored groove, much to the audience’s delight. “Santería” served as a way to not only introduce the folks sharing the stage with her, but also to engage in call-and-response with the adoring crowd.
Yet another new song, “Lo Presiento” returned to her sparse signature flamenco pop. She then prefaced the next song by asking the audience if they wanted to hear a track she performed at the VMAs, leading to “Yo X Ti, Tu X Mi,” her latest single. Then it was on to the irresistible smash “Con Altura,” the J Balvin collaboration that’s one of the songs that put her on the international map. Strobes and beats matched in an obvious buildup, before Rosalía announced she needed a much-deserved break. Producing a fan, she cooled herself off, before handing the fan off to a lucky audience member. The beats picked up where they left off and it was into “Aute Cuture,” another new single and her poppiest song yet. She and the dancers left the stage, but only for Reixa to set up another beat. Everyone returned for the overwhelmingly groovy “Malamente,” the breakout single that garnered six 2018 Latin Grammy nominations and pushed Rosalía from Spanish pop star to international sensation. It was a great way to end the show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs early next year on your local PBS station as part of our Season 45.