Madrid-based songwriter and producer Juan Casado debuted as Ralphie Choo in 2019 with a distorted, lullaby-like remake of Rosalía and Ozuna’s “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi” and a series of muffled indie pop songs that could pass as we give Named after a the Simpson character, the 23-year-old has since experimented with a broader swath of musical styles; he’s played with bouncing electronica, anthemic R&B, and trumpet-driven melodic rap. His latest single, the thunderous “Bulerías de un Caballo Malo,” is a breathy, computerized version of flamenco. Like Rosalía, Choo takes the traditional genre into exciting new terrain.
While the song’s message is ambiguous, Choo seems to be telling the story of a girl who dresses up for attention, rapping sharply about dancing and bad gambling. With breathy, screeching vocals, a mechanical hand-clapping rhythm, and an arpeggiated synth, the song’s robotic shuffling is reminiscent of early Arca mixtapes. The bulería rhythm supposedly takes its name from the Spanish words for “booze” or “hurry,” nodding to the lively, boisterous nature of flamenco. But an alternative report suggests that bulería comes from “bulero”, the regional term for a con man, hinting that the hoax is afoot. “They throw flowers to make him fall in love,” Choo sings delicately over flamenco handclaps and plucked guitar, before a high-pitched voice hints at “what they don’t know.” Harsh and delicate, glitchy and fluid, the song is as compelling as its lead.