‘Bagdad’: Rosalía Quite Literally Cries Herself a River

Rosalía takes Justin Timberlake’s Britney break-up anthem quite literally.

“For all those who were heartbroken and drowned in their sorrow.”

Rosalía is, without a doubt, one of my favorite discoveries of 2018.

I haven’t written anything about her until now on MuuMuse, but I did hop in a car with her as she made her way from her record label to a meeting at YouTube headquarters a few months ago for a feature for Paper. I recommend reading that for the full story, but to summarize: she is a very cool, passionate, talented (insert lady-gaga-adjective.GIF here) singer who is fusing the classic sound of Spain’s flamenco with modern electronic flourishes and #SomethingMoreUrban beats – and supplying next-level, symbolism-filled visuals while doing so. Her stage show is also incredible. I can’t swoon enough: I really think she represents the best of true artists on the horizon who are actually moving the dial ahead in music.

In any case, before the year comes to a close, Rosalía released a Helmi-directed music video on Tuesday (December 4) for a standout from her fantastic new record El Mal Querer. And yes, as you might notice within the first few seconds of a song: that is, in fact, an interpolation of the iconic melody from Justin Timberlake‘s “Cry Me A River.”

But why stop at merely a musical nod?

In the accompanying video, Rosalía goes for a rather literal interpretation of the classic breakup track, playing a stripper sobbing herself an actual river of tears inside of a bathroom after a phone call goes south.

Arguably, the JT interpretation dives deep: the blonde wig, the oh-so-“Oops!” red latex ensemble. I know I’ve solely got Britney on the brain at all times (subscribe to It’s Britney, Bitch!) – but is she not serving up the entire Justin-Britney breakup ’00s fantasy? There’s also the strip club set. “Gimme More”? Perhaps – but more likely a reference to the erotic club in Barcelona that this song gets its name from: Bagdad.

Rosalía’s music and videos are loaded with cultural references, including folklore and religious imagery – very much me to very, very niche Britney references. (“Go to the light and see Jesus!”) Accordingly, in her darkest hour, she ascends to deity status.

Like any good artist, there’s room for interpretation. And, like all good art, it all eventually comes back…to Britney, bitch.

El Mal Querer was released on November 2. (iTunes)

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