Single Review: ROSALÍA – SAOKO
Sam Godden reviews the new single from ROSALÍA, ‘SAOKO’, ahead of her new album in March.
After her critically acclaimed breakout sophomore album, El Mal Querer, in 2018, and a constant drip-feed of singles and collaborations ever since, anticipation for a rollout for the third Rosalía album was reaching fever pitch. Unfortunately, the release of the lead single in late 2021 for her forthcoming album Motomami, was relatively anticlimactic. Despite ‘La Fama’ (ft. The Weeknd) cleverly incorporating bachata styles into pop formulas, it lacked the experimental innovation or storytelling prowess of Rosalía’s previous work.
But any doubts that Rosalía had lost the innovative and experimental style that makes her work so instantly captivating are brushed aside in a mere two minutes and 18 seconds on SAOKO. The track explodes with a pounding reggaeton beat, a jazz piano breakdown, as well as a mindblowing Arca-esque bassline.
it’s hard to think of any other Rosalía song that erupts into a banger of this proportion.
It makes sense that the song that marks possibly the biggest aesthetic left turn of her career would feature the lyrics: “me contradigo, yo me transformo, soy todas las cosas, yo me transforma” (“I contradict myself, I transform, I’m all things, I transform”).
That’s not to say that her previous music hasn’t featured hints of the aesthetic of ‘SAOKO’. Revving motorbikes feature heavily in ‘QUE NO SALGA LA LUNA’ from her sophomore album, and have played a part in music videos such as ‘MALAMENTE’, the main hit from the album that propelled her to stardom – but it’s hard to think of any other Rosalía song that erupts into a banger of this proportion.
Positioned as the intro to the album in the tracklist, and with perhaps the most compelling visuals seen in a music video so far in 2022, ‘SAOKO‘ is a tantalising teaser into the world of Motomami, which could be gearing up to be one of the best releases of the year, from one of the most exciting artists on the international stage right now.