YouTube’s latest figures show we’re embracing pop from all over the globe, with Catalan singer Rosalía becoming the platform’s most-streamed female artist
You’re probably still humming Despacito – the track, by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi, was 2017’s sound of the summer.
Just two years ago it was considered unusual for a Spanish language track to top the charts in 47 different countries, but Despacito was just the start of a new wave.
Latest figures from YouTube show that we’re streaming Spanish language tracks in our billions. Music from Central and South America dominates, but the most popular female artist is European. Rosalía is from Barcelona and if you haven’t discovered her yet, it’s time to.
The singer, 25, mixes traditional flamenco sounds with modern R&B to infectious effect. Last year’s Con Altura has had 603 million views on YouTube and breakout track Malamente, from the album El Mal Querer is still massive at festivals and on sound systems, as her recent gig at Somerset House showed.
“Rosalía’s popularity defies convention,” says Ferdy Unger Hamilton, president of Columbia Records UK. “Whether she sings in Spanish or is seen as a flamenco artist, her audience just love her for her. Even if you can’t understand the lyrics or don’t have any frame of reference for the music she is making, it affects you on a completely emotional level.”
Rosalía is also very willing to experiment: she has recently collaborated with artist-of-the moment Billie Eilish and the double-track single Fucking Money Man, has her singing in Catalan and weaving in elements of rumba.
The first track, Milionaría, is bouncy and infectious, but things take a more serious turn with Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero (it translates as ‘God free us from money), where she criticises a system that leaves so many people in poverty.
“One day you want to be a millionaire and the next day burn everything,” she said. “In reality, how much does money matter?” The videos for Fucking Money Man’s two tracks show Rosalía participating in a spoof game show and singing in a circle of fire. Now’s the time to join the 920 million people who have already watched her on YouTube.