F*cking Money Man (Milionària + Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero)
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3rd July, 2019
THIS is a bit of an unusual…
review for me because I am tackling two different songs. To be fair, both are pretty short and they form a sort of concept. ROSALÍA is a fantastic artist who has just dropped a double-video for a project entitled F*cking Money Man. The visuals are accompanied by two songs and, whilst I could not split them up, it does bring me to a few interesting subjects. I want to talk about ROSALÍA in the context of daring artists and female artists who are really starting to strike; the different flavours of Pop and why we should not instantly write the genre off; those fighting for equality and the artists who bravely pioneer; a bit about last weekend’s Glastonbury and why ROSALÍA is a potential headliner – I will end by seeing where the Spanish-born artists might head next. It is actually quite unusual to see a Spanish artist near the mainstream and being talked about a lot. That is no disrespect to Spain and its musical output but I do feel like, maybe, Spain still fosters U.S. and U.K. sounds and there is no quite the same proliferation of artists we have here. Perhaps it is because more traditional Spanish sounds are not as integrated into the mainstream as they should be – perhaps it is something else. I do think we look at nations outside of the U.K. and U.S. and feel they lack the same promise and scope. I recently wrote a review where I expounded the brilliant Australian artists around and I think there are more great artists in Spain that are waiting to come through – the likes of ROSALÍA will act as a guide and inspiration. It is no surprise we are a bit blind to other nations because I think, even in 20019, we are still too reliant on the same sort of music and sources. Maybe we get it into our head that Spanish music is going to be World music: we are not aware of the fact there is Pop, Rock and other genres in the country being represented by some great artists.
I think the industry does need to incorporate some new flavours and tones in order to make it more exciting and promising. I have strayed a little from what I was going to say but, when it comes to ROSALÍA, there is so much to investigate and unpack. She is an artist who, like her boldest peers, is turning heads right now. I do feel like there are so many artists around right now that lack the necessary drive and punch to really settle in the mind. I hear so much generic Pop and lacklustre music; it does start to get boring and you yearn for someone who has that passion and sense of independence. I still feel the mainstream is too generic and the less soulful and meaningful Pop music holds too much power. Consider what those artists offer to the world. A lot of the lyrics on display are pretty formulaic and staid; many of the compositions are plastic and processed and the vocals lack soul and requisite appeal. It is a shame that a more commercial and easy-going Pop vibe is still ruling over everything else. I am seeing some changes come through. The fact that we have artists like ROSALÍA making waves and coming though means, I hope, the scene will break up and diversify very soon. I will mention Glastonbury in a bit but, when watching the coverage from last weekend, it was defined by strong female artists who, before, had not been given the credit they deserve. I loved what Miley Cyrus was doing and Billie Eilish had the crowd spellbound. It was a festival defined by strong and bold women emerging and captivating. I do feel like, in future years, we will see this trend continues and, in terms of the sound of the mainstream, artists like ROSALÍA are ready to shake it up. I am going to bring in a couple of interviews she has given because, when you read the extracts, you get a sense of someone who does not follow guidelines and really wants her music to stand out.
PHOTO CREDIT: Roger Kisby for Rolling Stone
Just look at her new piece: Is F*cking Money Man (Milionària + Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero) a suite of songs or a double A-side? Is it a political statement or personal revelation? I do feel like there is much formula and marketing with modern music. Artists are too keen to stick to a pattern and not break from that. Looking at ROSALÍA’s latest tracks and we have someone who is certainly doing her own thing! I think the most interesting and exciting music being made right now is coming from female artists. I confess there are some great male acts doing their thing but when I consider all the best new sounds around, they are emanating from women. Look at what ROSALÍA is doing with Pop music right now. I mentioned Spain and, as ROSALÍA is Catalan-born, it is inevitable that sounds and flavours of her upbringing and home are going to show themselves in the music. That is not to say that there is a cliché vision of Spain in her work. Mixing in Flamenco and other genres, we have this original blend that is both cool and fresh but it has definite heat and intensity. Consider, too, what I was saying about modern Pop and the fact it is quite stale and machine-like. I hear so many songs that sound exactly the same and it seems rather pointless when you consider it. There is nothing wrong with commercial Pop but, if artists are not bringing something new to the table, the mind is going to look elsewhere. ROSALÍA has that blend of her native Spain but there are so many different colours and tones working through her music. What we get is something both daringly strident and accessible. Like Billie Eilish, ROSALÍA is remarkably accomplished and confident for someone so young. There is not this feeling (with ROSALÍA) that she needs to write about love and the same themes to attract attention and get acclaim. Sure, she has experienced heartache but that is not what drives her consciousness. Her new project is about money and the different sides of it; the greed and corruption that come with it and a sense of extravagance.
I do feel like we all get this idea of modern Pop and what it is all about. I have said how we should not dismiss it and associate it with negative impressions. The commercial artists who seem unable to project any personality and talent onto the page are the ones who are keeping this stereotype alive. Listen to ROSALÍA and Billie Eilish; take a listen to Lizzo too. Whilst these artists bring other genres together, they are very much at the forefront and gaining universal acclaim. These artists are talking about serious and less commercial ideas; they are splicing sounds together and delivering incredibly powerful music. Pop has been in a dire state for a few years now and it has been a while since there was this incredibly rich and promising mainstream. I do feel like there is a revival happening. Being led by brilliant artists like ROSALÍA, there is a lot to get optimistic about! What I love about modern Pop is the fact there is variation coming in. There are many reasons to love ROSALÍA’s work but one has to admire the boldness of her sounds and themes. F*cking Money Man (Milionària + Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero) captures you because it is slinky and cool but there is this cutting edge that keeps the song brash and alert. One can lose themselves in the song and does not need to speak Spanish to appreciate the brilliance of the music. In fact, she is actually singing in Catalan on the songs. How many modern artists do we hear that are singing in Catalan? Definitely, in Spain there are many but do we have this fear that, if a song is in a foreign language, it will not resonate and remain in the mind? I will explain the songs in more details soon but it is clear ROSALÍA is doing things differently and is a step ahead of her peers.
There is a lot to love about ROSALÍA but I especially admire her determination and independence. I want to bring in an interview from THE FADER that sort of underlines what I mean:
“Rosalía doesn’t like not being able to do something — and if anyone has said “no” to her in the last two years, it’s hard to tell. During that time, the 26-year-old has evolved from a budding flamenco vocalist in her native Spain into an international pop star and genre rebel, one who’s collaborated with James Blake, appeared on Kourtney Kardashian’s Instagram, taught Alicia Keys Spanish, and hung out with Dua Lipa at awards shows.
“I understand that a lot of people can’t connect with my music, because it’s a radical proposal and a personal proposal,” Rosalía says of her hybrid of flamenco elements and sparse electronics. “There will be people who can connect with it, and many that can’t. I understand the risk I take in making these decisions with my music.”
It wasn’t until Rosalía was 13 that the arrow of flamenco pierced her. It happened one day when she was hanging out by her school and heard a nearby car blasting a song with melismatic vocal runs and rhythmic palmas hand-clapping. “From the beginning, I knew,” she says, resolute and staring directly into my eyes. “I realized, This is my path.”
Rosalía knew very little about flamenco, a style of music and dance born out of the intermingling of Castilians, Moors, Sephardi Jews, and the Romani community in Southern Spain and codified in 19th-century Andalusia. She didn’t know about the sentimental howls of flamenco’s cante jondo style or its frantic zapateado footwork. But that didn’t matter. “It’s something I felt was important to my journey,” she says”.
There is no denying ROSALÍA is taking a few risks, I guess, in regards the personal aspect of her music and the fact that Catalan features. I feel she is being a bit hard on herself because, the more you listen, the more striking it becomes. Yes, the songs are quite challenging and new but it is quite easy bonding with them and admiring what ROSALÍA is doing.
ROSALÍA is someone who fights for equality and does not want to rest until there is balance in the industry. This year has been defined by female artists and the music they are producing. I think there is still a way to go before there is equality but, in studios and behind the scenes, there is this disparity that needs correcting. I want to bring in another interview where ROSALÍA discussed her start in music and then talked about gender disparity in the industry:
“How did you first get into making music?
Rosalía: Since I was a young girl, I have always felt a strong connection to music, in a natural way, without hesitation. I remember myself as a little girl dancing and singing around the house most of the time. When I was around ten, I decided I would devote myself and my life to music.
Barcelona is an open and multicultural city. It’s brimming with a very special creative energy. If you pay attention, you may be easily inspired by the places and people living there. I met my flamenco singing teacher in this city. He suggested I started a degree in music, and I had the opportunity to study and share eight years of my life with him in this city. El Raval, Poble Nou, or Gràcia have been essential spots where I have developed my music career.
For me, your music is about independence, especially from men. Is that how you see it?
Rosalía: The way I make music reflects the way I think. I’ll never get tired of fighting until I see equal numbers of men and women in a recording session, you know? In the studio, on the stage to companies. I’ll fight until all those women are given the same value as naturally as it is given to men”.
I do feel like 2019 is a year where female artists are speaking out more and looking to change things very quickly. In terms of music, the likes of ROSALÍA are pioneering and asking for improvement in music.
ROSALÍA will act as a role model, not only for women in music right now but for the new generation who are looking around and wonder whether women will be on equal footing with men. I do think men in the industry are not doing enough to make changes and ensure there is balance in studios and in the forefront. Maybe this will change but it is women in music doing more of the heavy lifting compared to the men. I will come to the songs in question in a bit but, before moving along, it is worth tracking back to last weekend’s Glastonbury and the fact ROSALÍA performed a blinding set. You can listen to an example of her Glastonbury set here - and you can see the impression her music had on the audience. She was mixing Catalan with English and her set was a nice balance of the sensuous and the stirring. It was a physical performance but there was this accessibility that provides sunshine, coolness and something very alluring. The songs connected instantly and, in terms of performance, ROSALÍA proves she is fully able to handle the big stages. I do think she is a possible Glastonbury headliner. Some might say she is a bit new and it will not work out so quickly but consider the likes of Stormzy – who headlined the Friday at Glastonbury – and he pulled off a remarkable set. In any case, ROSALÍA is a fantastic proposition and there is a lot to unpack when it comes to F*cking Money Man (Milionària + Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero). Rather than release a conventional single, there is this pairing of songs that investigations money and greed. From investigating gameshows and that frantic grab for money the poisonous aspect of cash, these songs are very timely and highly-charged. One feels like she is taking a shot at the U.S. and the greed of Donald Trump but ROSALÍA is looking at the wider world and how money rules everything.
From the first notes of Milionària, you are hooked and realise this is a very different artist to what is out there at the moment! ROSALÍA comes to the microphone and there is this instantly sense of authority and coolness. There is this big beat behind her and slinky electronics that gives the song a brilliant shake and rhythm! You are helpless to resist the fire and intoxicating sounds emerging but, it is ROSALÍA’s voice that resonates most. Before the chorus kicks in, ROSALÍA casts herself as this millionaire; someone who is traveling from Mumbai to Malta and, it seems, money is no object. She wants a couple of different Bentleys and there is this aspiration to be rich and not have to worry about things – she cannot have this until she gets a windfall. One might look at the song and feel like it is a young Pop artist yearning for fame and chasing something glamorous but, in reality, this is a look at vacant figures and the wealthy that do not see the struggle around and do not understand the true value of money. We hear plenty of songs where money is idolised and seen as this great thing but one senses ROSALÍA growing weary of those types who post snaps on Instagram and boast about their wealth. There are dollar signs in her mind and, whereas many of us are content with what we have, the heroine wants more and more riches. Every day, it seems, is her birthday and she can have leopards running through her garden; she can buy fine art and go wherever she pleases.
Whereas some artists might write about money in a very cliché and vacant way, there is a lot of nuance in Milionària. The coda of “F*cking money man” makes you wonder whether she means that in a rather casual and boastful way (put a comma after the ‘money’ and it has a more laidback vibe) or whether it is angered and bold – like she sees all this wealth and how it is corrupting people. That idea of chasing cash and having all this stuff you do not need builds very vivid images. Among the list of dreams/acquisitions – a yacht and star in her name; employing a kid to open her Christmas presents – there are so many big prizes and dreams that many people have. You feel that Milionària wags its finger at those who chase something empty and use their money to suit themselves and not change the world. In the song, ROSALÍA casts herself as the spoiled and money-chaser but one can tell that this life is something that she fears and hates. In terms of who the song is aimed at, maybe it is aimed at celebrities and those who so many people hanker after but, to me, it is a look at the world in general and how there is so much greed and wasted wealth. It is a truly fascinating song and one anyone can get behind. The fact the song is sung in Catalan should not put people off because, not only are there translations to the lyrics online, but the sound of ROSALÍA singing in her native song gives the song a romance and quality it would not have were it sung in English.
After Milionària and its talk of big-money spenders and those who chase after needless purchases, Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero is a more cautious and fearful song. The former song is about greed and people chasing dollars but, on the accompanying cut, the singer is asking God to free her and the world from the grip of money and how it corrupts people. Not only do we get two different sides to money but the tone is very different between the tracks. The former is a more spirited and fired-up song where Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero has more sadness and emotion on its breath. The track is gorgeous and imploring and, whilst it is hard to source English lyrics online, one enjoys the performance and the sheer potency of ROSALÍA’s voice. It is such a mesmeric instrument that gets into the head and provokes images. No$ Libre Del Dinero is ROSALÍA at her peak, I feel. It is a very short song that lasts less than two minutes but it packs so much in. The vocal weave and sound is incredible and you are spellbound by this very graceful and beautiful sound. The lyrics, as I understand, are much more cautious and wary than the vocal would have us believe. ROSALÍA is concerned about money and how it seems to dominate people; how it can corrupt nations and lead people astray. I do feel like Pop music is too beholden to formula and tradition and few artists are breaking away from that.
In the space of two songs, we have two very different stories around money. One can listen to both songs at the same time – both are part of this F*cking Money Man theme/concept. I do love both tracks and feel like they are powerful, incredible moving and memorable works. ROSALÍA shows she is one of the finest and most promising artists in music right now. Even if you not behind the lyrics and following them, the music and vocals will definitely connect. From the sunnier and more rousing spirit of Milionària to calmer and more cautious sound of Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero, ROSALÍA covers all the bases. I cannot wait to see where she goes next and whether we will get more releases like this in the future. It is clear that, the more she performs, the more confidence she accrues. It is scary to think how far along she will be this time next year considering the progress she has made in the last couple of years. If you have not listened to ROSALÍA’s previous work then do go back as well and discover so many wonderful, instantly memorable songs that will be in your mind for a long time to come!
I love the fact ROSALÍA can write a song where there are dangerous spiders, dangers and weird gameshow obstacles in the way! So many modern songs are predictable and concentrate on love and relationships. ROSALÍA has presented something a lot busier, more exciting and deeper than all of that. We see money every second of the day on screens and advertising billboards. I do feel like the importance of money is causing a lot of misery and divisions around the world. We all want more money but we look at big celebrities and figures that have a lot and aspire to be just like them. In many aspects, ROSALÍA is sending a message to those who aspire to that sort of life. That desperation to be famous and rich; the money dominates is put in the spotlight. Whether directly attacking politicians and businessmen or taking a shot at money and greed in general, ROSALÍA has created a very impressive feat with F*cking Money Man (Milionària + Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero). There is a sense of exasperation and anger in her voice but, this being ROSALÍA, she is trying to change the world and raise awareness. I shall leave things alone soon but I recommend people go and see ROSALÍA is they can. Check out her social media channels and, if she is playing near you, go and catch her! ROSALÍA is a stunning live performer and her songs are amazing. Her 2018 album, el mal querer, was lauded because of its freshness and memorability.
I am not sure whether there are plans for more music soon but make sure you check out what ROSALÍA has produced so far. She is an artist who will go very far and has many years ahead. I am captivated by everything she does and think that, in a few years, she might well headline Glastonbury. ROSALÍA is a role model and an artist that is not following the pack. Her songs are so addictive and powerful that it is hard to turn away and pass them by. Not that you’d want to because, after one listen of a track like Milionària and you want to go back for more. My next review will return to the single song but, as I could not separate Milionària + Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero – and they are part of F*cking Money Man -, that is the way things have to be today. The fact ROSALÍA has released two videos and not just been beholden to a traditional single shows that she is always pushing ahead and doing what she feels is right. Check the video(s) and you can see how much the visual nature of music means to ROSALÍA. This is a complete artist and someone who is going to go a very long way. Do not pass her by and, with new cuts out in the world, ROSALÍA is going to be on many…
PHOTO CREDIT: Berta Pfirsich
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Getty Images/ ROSALÍA