Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage
Run The World: How Rosalía Became An International Superstar And Production Powerhouse
To commemorate Women's History Month, take a look at Rosalía's colossal career, from her 'Los Ángeles' folk debut to her GRAMMY-winning experimental, flamenco-pop album, 'Motomami.'
Rosalía is the pop star the music industry has craved for so long — an unapologetic, risk-taking visionary who transforms each album release into a deliberate era, slowly immersing her audience deeper into her creative universe. She has become a vanguard for music's next generation of female leaders, paving the way through her commitment to building equality as she once promised in her 2019 Billboard Women in Music speech: "I will never stop till I find and I see the same number of women in the studio."
But before the global sensation came to be, there was Rosalia Tobella, the hopeful musicology student from the suburbs of Barcelona with a passion for flamenco and dream of becoming one of music's biggest disruptors. Her nights spent singing and dancing at flamenco venues eventually landed her in the hands of hitmaker Raül Refree, who manifested her big-city ambitions into reality, co-producing and arranging her critically-acclaimed debut studio album, Los Ángeles.
The flamenco-inspired folk album set the precedent for Rosalía's prosperous musical career after snagging the Spanish singer her very first Latin GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist and producing a slew of live appearances that led to her catching the attention of her label, Columbia Records. Today, Rosalía's flamenco roots continue to paint her discography on award-winning albums El Mal Querer and Motomami.
As a part of GRAMMY.com's ongoing celebration of Women's History Month, we're looking back at Rosalía's monumental career, from Los Àngeles to Motomami, in this installment of Run The World. It's not just Rosalía's artistic genius that makes her story so remarkable, but also her trailblazing achievements and strides to make space for like-minded women.
What distinguishes Rosalía in a saturated market is her consistency. Without coming across as repetitive, Rosalía seamlessly innovates new ways to transform flamenco as she fuses its essence into different genres on each release. This level of brilliance garnered Rosalía praise from Billboard for "changing the sound of today's mainstream music" at the 14th Women in Music event, acknowledging the artist with a Rising Star Award.
Over the past six years, Rosalía has amassed nearly 60 awards in total, most notably her 11 Latin GRAMMY wins. Three years after winning the Latin GRAMMY for Album Of The Year for El Mal Querer in 2019, she took home the award again in 2022 for Motomami — becoming the first woman in Latin GRAMMY history to win the category twice.
In 2020, Rosalía marked her GRAMMY stage debut with a medley performance of "Juro Que'' and her breakthrough single, "Malamente." Earlier that night, she celebrated another groundbreaking achievement as the first all-Spanish-language artist to be recognized in the Best New Artist category, as well as her first GRAMMY win for Best Latin, Rock or Urban Alternative album for El Mal Querer. (She won the category for the second time at this year's GRAMMY Awards for Motomami.)
"It's such an honor to receive this award, but at the same time, what I'm most excited about is that I'll be able to perform a flamenco-inspired performance for all of you," Rosalía said during her 2020 GRAMMY acceptance speech, noting her position as one of the leading voices in sharing flamenco culture with American media. "Thank you for embracing [this] project with so much love."
Above all the accolades remains Rosalía's women-first attitude, taking into account the legacy of women who built the foundation for her empire. "I want to thank women like Lauryn Hill, WondaGurl, Björk, Kate Bush, Ali Tamposi, Nija — all the women in the industry who taught me that it can be done," exclaimed Rosalía during her acceptance speech for Best Urban Fusion/Performance at the 2018 Latin GRAMMYs.
And now, she's leaving her own impact on our future leaders.
In a full-circle moment, Rosalía was honored as the inaugural Producer Of The Year at the 2023 Billboard Women in Music ceremony, presented to her by one of her aforementioned heroes, WondaGurl. "To me, it feels special because this is not usual. I make my own music, I produce my own songs, and I write my own songs. I want to dedicate this award to all the women who are going to be producers," she beamed.
Press play on the video above to revisit the defining moments in Rosalía's revolutionary stardom, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Run The World.
Listen To GRAMMY.com's Women's History Month 2023 Playlist: Swim In The Divine Feminine With These 40 Songs By Rihanna, SZA, Miley Cyrus, BLACKPINK & More
Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images
Run The World: How Lady Gaga Changed The Music Industry With Dance-Pop & Unapologetic Feminism
In celebration of Women's History Month, get a glimpse of Lady Gaga's influential career as a luminary of dance-pop and her outspoken advocacy for women's rights.
Born Stefani Germanotta, Lady Gaga is one of the best-selling female artists in history. Rightfully so, Gaga's years of training — from taking piano lessons at 4 years old to briefly studying at New York University's prestigious Collaborative Arts Project 21 musical theater program — prepared her to become one of the most technical pop singers of all time. With the addition of her innovative creativity to her musical skill set, Gaga forged the perfect formula to become one of the biggest stars of her generation.
Lady Gaga created music under the pen name — a reference to Queen's hit "Radio Ga Ga" — years before she finally caught the eyes of Interscope executive Vincent Herbert, who she now credits for discovering her. Eventually, Lady Gaga was introduced to award-winning songwriter and producer RedOne to make her breakthrough album, 2008's The Fame, under Interscope imprint label Cherrytree Records.
Speaking to The Independent in 2009, she recalled her struggles to get radio airplay after releasing The Fame. "They would say, 'This is too racy, too dance-oriented, too underground. It's not marketable,'" she said. "And I would say, 'My name is Lady Gaga. I've been on the music scene for years, and I'm telling you, this is what's next.'"
And right she was: the year following The Fame's premiere, Lady Gaga received her first GRAMMY nomination for "Just Dance" at the 2009 GRAMMY Awards. Over a decade later, she's won 13 GRAMMYs and counts 36 GRAMMY nominations in total.
By 2016, Lady Gaga had four No. 1 albums under her belt, from Born This Way to Joanne. In 2018, she signed on to be the lead actress in Bradley Cooper's remake of A Star Is Born, also doubling as the songwriter and producer for the soundtrack. The release was an immediate success, debuting at the top of the Billboard 200 Albums chart and making Lady Gaga the first woman with five No. 1 albums in the 2010s. In 2019, Lady Gaga became the first person in history to win a GRAMMY, Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globe in a single year.
As a part of GRAMMY.com's ongoing commemoration of Women's History Month, we're looking back at Lady Gaga's influential career as one of the music industry's pop legends in this episode of Run The World. Extending Lady Gaga's impressively successful career as an entertainer is her philanthropy and advocacy work as a proud, outspoken feminist.
During her 2018 ELLE Women in Hollywood event, Lady Gaga gave an inspiring speech to bring awareness to sexual assault. "For me, this is what it means to be a woman in Hollywood. It means I have a platform. I have a chance to make a change. I pray we listen, believe, and pay closer attention to those around us in need. Be a helping hand. Be a force for change," Lady Gaga concluded after courageously sharing her story as a survivor.
"I would like to dedicate this song to every woman in America. To every woman who now has to worry about her body if she gets pregnant. I pray that this country will speak up and we will not stop until its right!" - Lady Gaga talking about abortion rights at The #ChromaticaBallDC pic.twitter.com/YjwlC0rg7C— Ryan | Lady Gaga 🏳️🌈 (@ryanleejohnson) August 9, 2022
She has also used her platform on stage to advocate for women. During her Chromatica Ball tour in 2022, she dedicated "The Edge of Glory" to women after the government overturned Roe v. Wade two months prior: "To every woman who now has to worry about her body if she gets pregnant, I pray this country will speak up, and we will not stop until it's right!"
Lady Gaga isn't just a musician or actress. She is a pioneer in change, a spokesperson for those whose voices might not get heard. She wants to see women, especially in entertainment, win while being able to claim their authentic femininity, as she told Glamour in 2017.
"I hope to see women thriving and happy, loving what they're doing, and being in control and powerful of what they create," she explained. "As much as we all love the fashion and the makeup and glamour, this isn't a beauty pageant. It's about the heart and the drive and the work."
Press play on the video above to revisit some of Lady Gaga's historic achievements throughout her groundbreaking career, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Run The World.
Photos (L-R, clockwise): Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation, Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella, Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images, Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ACM, Terry Wyatt/Getty Images
Listen To GRAMMY.com's Women's History Month 2023 Playlist: Swim In The Divine Feminine With These 40 Songs By Rihanna, SZA, Miley Cyrus, BLACKPINK & More
Who run the world? Harness positive energy during Women's History Month with this immersive playlist honoring Beyoncé, Rina Sawayama, Kim Petras, and more female musicians.
In the words of recent GRAMMY winner Lizzo, it's bad b— o'clock. To kick off Women's History Month, GRAMMY.com is celebrating with an extensive playlist spotlighting women's divine musical artistry. Perpetually shaping, reinvigorating, and expanding genres, women's creative passion drives the music industry forward.
This March, get ready to unlock self-love with Miley Cyrus' candid "Flowers," or hit the dancefloor with the rapturous Beyoncé's "I'm That Girl." Whether you're searching for the charisma of Doja Cat's "Woman" or confidence of Rihanna's "B— Better Have My Money," this playlist stuns with diverse songs honoring women's fearlessness and innovation.
Women dominate the music charts throughout the year, but this month, dive into their glorious energy by pressing play on our curated Women's History Month playlist, featuring everyone from Dua Lipa to Missy Elliott to Madonna to Kali Uchis.
Listen below on Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora.
PHOTO: Gladys Vega/ Getty Images; John Parra/Getty Images; Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images for The Latin Recording Academy; Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Latin Recording
2022 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Latin Music
2022 glowed with abundance in every region and style — from Chilean folk and Mexican sierreño to Argentine synth-pop, Dominican dembow and good old fashioned rock en español.
Years from now, 2022 is likely to be remembered as a moment of expansion and inspiration for Latin music. It’s not only that the unstoppable reggaetón beat and its multiple permutations brought people to their feet as the entire world danced to the sounds of Bad Bunny, KAROL G and Rosalía.
After years of pandemic-related suffering, 2022 glowed with abundance in every region and style — from Chilean folk and Mexican sierreño to Argentine synth-pop, Dominican dembow and good old fashioned rock en español. Forgotten genres were resurrected and given bright new outfits, while a wave of daring young producers experimented with cutting-edge textures and studio effects. Globalization shook up the Latin spectrum, and the results are splendorous.
Here are some of the notable trends that emerged during the past 12 months.
The New Epicenter Of Global Pop? Puerto Rico
As the mainstream embraces Latin trap, EDM and folk genres like champeta and bachata in this brave digital world of neo-reggaetón hits, Puerto Rican vocalists and producers have mastered the recipe of success. 2022 marked the third consecutive year in which Bad Bunny was the most streamed artist in the world on Spotify. An intriguing combination of raucous party hedonism and melancholy self-reflection, Benito’s musical universe continues to evolve, but his hold on pop culture is part of a wider trend.
The year also saw the release of excellent new tracks by Ozuna, Rauw Alejandro, Daddy Yankee and Myke Towers, confirming San Juan as the avant-garde capital of Latin futurism. La isla del encanto’s dominance shouldn’t surprise the most studious observers of popular music, though. Just like Jamaica, Puerto Rico has given birth to countless legends in the past, from Tito Rodríguez and Cheo Feliciano to El Gran Combo and Héctor Lavoe. Further, there is a solid threadline that unites the early salsa sizzle of 'Maelo' Rivera with the 2000’s narratives of Tego Calderón and the melodic brilliance of a Rauw Alejandro.
The Seduction Of Retro Lives On
Much of today’s Latin music relies on the-future-is-now sonics, with the use of autotune, synth patches and all sorts of studio gimmicks to create the slick patina of today's hits. At the same time, a number of artists prefer a return to analog warmth and the formats that hypnotized their ears in younger times.
Growing up in Texas, multi-instrumentalist and Black Pumas leader Adrian Quesada developed an obsession with the intoxicating strand of psychedelic baladas that flourished throughout Latin America between the early ‘60s and mid ‘70s. Quesada had already recorded a reverential cover of "Esclavo y Amo" by Peruvian combo Los Pasteles Verdes, but in 2022 he recorded an entire album, Boleros Psicodélicos, with mostly original songs that capture the sinuous beauty and baroque harpsichord lines of the original genre.
Following a similar vein, Natalia Lafourcade’s stunning De Todas Las Flores favored a retro approach with songs such as the breezy tropi-pop gem "Canta la arena." The album was recorded live on tape, with every musician present in the recording studio and no previous rehearsals. And if the intro to the solemn "Llévame viento" reminds you of Claude Debussy and French impressionism, it’s no coincidence. The Mexican vocalist showed producer Adán Jodorowsky pictures by Claude Monet for inspiration while they worked on the record.
Dembow Transforms The Urbano Landscape
Hypnotic and repetitive, the Dominican genre known as dembow is instantly addictive, but at the same time a bit of an acquired taste. Because of its aggressive pattern, it can be successfully transplanted to mainstream reggaetón — a prime example being Bad Bunny’s eye-opening use of dembow in his mega-hit "Tití Me Preguntó."
The indisputable king of the format remains El Alfa, the incredibly prolific, 31 year-old singer/songwriter from Santo Domingo who has turned the native riddims and hilarious slang from his homeland into a cottage industry of feverish dance anthems. El Alfa (Emanuel Herrer Batista) releases singles and videos at a breakneck pace, and 2022 found him riding a creative wave. A collaboration with Braulio Fogón and Chael Produciendo, "Tontorón Tontón" grooves with a fervor that borders on insanity, as El Alfa spits out rhymes that fuse hilarious vulgarity with surreal impressionism.
Last Night A Lo-Fi Songstress Saved My Life
While the ubiquitous stars of the Latin pop firmament compete for hundreds of millions of streams, indie artists from Argentina to Mexico continue doing what they do best: writing awesome songs. Easy access to recording equipment has allowed a young generation of female bedroom-pop and lo-fi rock performers to blossom undeterred by any record label interference.
On her brilliant and darkly hued EP Misterios de la Plata, Argentine singer Srta. Trueno Negro channels her devotion to the Velvet Underground. Hailing from Culiacán in Sinaloa, Bratty collaborated with Cuco on the hazy reverie of "Fin Del Mundo." In Brazil, São Paolo native Brvnks flexed her angular, guitar-based hooks on "sei la," an atmospheric duet with Raça. Seeped in the sugary vibes of ‘80s Argentine bands like Metrópoli, "Tuna" — an under promoted single by young Buenos Aires composer Mora Navarro — is probably one of the most gorgeous Latin songs of the decade.
Bachata Officially Not A Niche Genre Anymore
All those Dominican aristocrats of the early 20th century who looked down on bachata as the filthy music of the lower classes would shake their heads in disbelief if they saw the place of honor it occupies today. Prince Royce and Romeo Santos made headway in bringing the authentic strains of música del amargue into the mainstream.
But just like salsa in the ‘90s, bachata is now part of the pop lexicon, and artists from different genres delve into its mystique. Most famously, Rosalía, whose majestic "LA FAMA" distorts the expected guitar lines into jagged, digitalized objects of beauty. The autobiographical lyrics are poignant, and the diva’s decision to enlist the Weeknd helped to further the cause (as it turns out, bachata’s wounded feelings sting even more deliciously as a duet.) In Colombia, Elsa y Elmar aimed at the very roots of the genre with "atravesao," complete with skittish bongó beats and a vocal delivery that bleeds unrequited romance. Even in Buenos Aires, bachata has attracted the muse of talented songwriters such as Silvina Moreno, whose "Ley de Atracción" muses philosophically on the perverse contradictions of erotic desire.
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
10 Moments From The 2022 Latin GRAMMY Awards: Rosalía's Big Wins, A 95-Year-Old Best New Artist & Christina Aguilera Goes Ranchera
Soulful, sensuous and visually stunning performances from Marco Antonio Solís, Ángela Aguilar, Anitta and others prove the vibrancy and multifaceted nature of Latin music.
There’s still hope in these uncertain times of ours when a nonagenarian singer of sweet boleros can win a Latin GRAMMY in the Best New Artist category.
The 23rd edition of the awards not only gave audiences hope, but thrilled with a sprawling, vibrant banquet of sounds, colors and textures from more than 30 countries. The star-studded show demonstrated — one soulful, visually stunning performance at a time — that Latin music is not a single, monolithic genre.
From anthemic Mexican rancheras to bouncy reggaetón riddims and stark confessional ballads, these are the highlights of a ceremony that gave us many moments to cherish.
The Spirit of Salsa Lives On
At a time when salsa is often remembered as a beloved artifact from decades past, Marc Anthony deserves accolades for remaining true to the genre that made him a tropical icon during the ‘90s.
Backed by a seasoned orchestra led by keyboardist and producer Sergio George, Anthony performed a feverish reading of "Mala" — off his 2022 album Pa’llá Voy — heavy on the trombone riffs and byzantine piano tumbaos. "I’d rather sing than talk," the 54 year-old quipped when receiving the Latin GRAMMY for Best Salsa Album. "Mala" was also victorious in the Best Tropical Song category.
Rauw Alejandro Is Here To Stay
In a way, Rauw’s tight, intense performance celebrated his confirmation last year as one of Latin music’s biggest global stars. A medley including bits from "Desesperados" and "Lejos del Cielo," felt both smooth and urgent, and showcased his multiple talents as dancer, songwriter and vocalist.
The finale, a kinetic reading of "Punto 40" — his remake of the classic reggaetón cut by Baby Rasta & Gringo — proved that the Puerto Rican tastemaker has found a creative sweet spot. He is also listed as a contributor on MOTOMAMI, the Album of the Year winner by girlfriend Rosalía.
Christina Habla Español
Accepting her award for Aguilera in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category, Ecuadorian/American diva Christina Aguilera remarked that she had wanted to record another Spanish language album since the release of Mi Reflejo in 2000.
The two-decade wait was definitely worth it, as her voice sounded deliciously gritty on her performance of rousing ranchera "Cuando Me Dé La Gana" with Christian Nodal, whose EP #1 FORAJIDO won the Best Ranchero/Mariachi Album race. Fittingly, their duet concluded with fireworks.
It’s Never Too Late — Seriously
As a rule, ties in award ceremonies leave behind a lukewarm aftertaste. In the case of this year’s Best New Artist, however, the joint victory of 25 year-old Mexican songstress Silvana Estrada and 95-year-old Cuban singer Ángela Álvarez was hands down the most emotional moment of the evening.
Both women recorded luminous albums marked by a deep reverence to the folk roots of Latin America. "This is for my dear homeland, Cuba — a place I will never forget," said Álvarez, standing next to her grandson, Los Angeles-based producer Carlos José Álvarez. After receiving an ovation, she left behind some inspiring artistic advice. "Even though life is difficult, I promise that with faith and love, it’s never too late."
An Album For The Ages
Released in March of this year, Rosalía’s MOTOMAMI is a cultural landmark — a conceptual work of limitless imagination and wondrous stylistic plurality. It won awards for Best Album Of The Year, Best Alternative Music Album, Best Recording Package and Best Engineered Album.
The Spanish singer’s performance reflected MOTOMAMI’s own opulence. Wearing sunglasses and bright red lipstick, she played the piano and performed an achingly vulnerable "HENTAI," before launching into a gorgeous version of post-modern bachata "LA FAMA." The buoyant "DESPECHÁ," a recent single, found her dancing among the crowd, with a brief pit stop to greet boyfriend Rauw Alejandro.
Moving Urbano Forward
2022 has been a particularly creative year for Karol G. Her ongoing collaboration with fellow Colombian producer Ovy On the Drums expanded the urbano landscape with a cinematic scope.
Her deeply emotional performance functioned as a summary of her recent achievements. It began with a languid quote from "GATÚBELA," then quickly morphed into the familiar strains of mega-hit "PROVENZA," which she performed walking down the aisles of the venue, followed by her dancers. Back onstage, she beamed dancing to the progressive post-reggaetón beat of brand new single "CAIRO," with Ovy playing ominous keyboard patterns.
Past And Present Of A Mexican Legend
A prolific singer/songwriter with a Midas touch for timeless romantic hits, Michoacán native Marco Antonio Solís was honored as the 2022 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year with a special gala held the night before the awards.
Solís performed twice during the ceremony — first as a solo artist with majestic readings of "Si No Te Hubieras Ido" and ranchera-pop "La Venia Bendita," and then a sentimental "La Cárcel" with former group Los Bukis. "You’re not only the pride of Mexico, but of all Latinos," enthused presenter Emilio Estefan Jr. Solís expressed his gratitude and underscored the relevance of younger artists carrying the torch of Latin sounds around the world.
A Brazilian Diva Channels Reggaetón
A native of Rio de Janeiro, Anitta conquered the mainstream on the strength of a cosmopolitan musical palate that embraces reggaetón beats and lush strains of Latin pop. Her performance at the Awards was appropriately electric, beginning with the booty-grinding "Envolver," then segueing into the tribal excesses of "Rave de Favela," her orgiastic collaboration with Major Lazer. Far from relying on musty bossa novas, the Latin GRAMMYs found in Anitta a glimpse of Brazilian futurism.
An Uruguayan Maestro Wins Big
A perennial Latin GRAMMY favorite, Jorge Drexler added seven trophies to his collection, including the coveted Record and Song Of The Year awards.
The veteran troubadour appeared genuinely surprised as the Latin GRAMMYs kept piling up, but anyone who listened to the lovely orchestral arrangements of his album Tinta y Tiempo could have anticipated this moment. A collaboration with Spanish enfant terrible C. Tangana, "Tocarte" is an electro-canción gem, and Drexler performed it with Elvis Costello. "Vamos, Elvis," he exclaimed, just as the British legend launched into a blistering guitar solo. In one of his acceptance speeches, Drexler showed his generosity of spirit by thanking urbano artists for disseminating the beauty of Latin sounds internationally.
The Future Is Now
Having Nicky Jam perform a moody rendition of "El Perdón" — his smash collaboration with Enrique Iglesias — is in itself cause for celebration. But the singer went a step forward and created an indelible moment by inviting four young artists to join him onstage. Xavier Cintrón, Valentina García, Nicolle Horbath and Sergio De Miguel Jorquera are recipients of the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation’s Prodigy Scholarships. The pairing of veteran stars with talented new voices was magical.