Sensuality and a mechanical bull: Rosalía’s music video for the provocative ‘Hentai’

The song is the fourth track to be released from the Catalan singer’s latest album ‘Motomami,’ which comes out on March 18

A still from the music video for Rosalía‘s ‘Hentai.’
A still from the music video for Rosalía‘s ‘Hentai.’

Just two months ago, on January 16, Spanish singer Rosalía gave the world a preview of the song Hentai, a ballad from her new album Motomami, which comes out on March 18. In the 24-second clip, shared on TikTok, the pop star sang a part of the track as she traveled up a cable car in the snow. The overtly sexual nature of the lyrics, with phrases such as “Te quiero ride / Como a mi bike” or “I want to ride you like my bike,” made it clear the singer was taking a new direction from her album El Mal Querer (2018), which shot her to global fame.

The lyrics, co-written by Pharrel Williams – the singer behind hits such as Blurred Lines and Get Lucky – Rosalía and her sister Pilar, feature a more urban vocabulary than the singer’s previous work, and also more Spanglish. They are also filled with sexual and sensual imagery, a pattern that is also seen in the music video for the song.

Directed by Mitch Ryan, the music video begins with Rosalía in a green field, bathed in golden sunlight. As the song progresses, the light fades until it is nighttime. That’s when the singer climbs on top of a mechanical bull and sings: “Lo segundo es chingarte / Lo primero es Dios” or “Second is fucking you / First is God.”

The other scene in the music video is in an American rodeo, where Rosalía lies on a bed in the middle of the ring. She twists and turns on the mattress, while a white horse stands in the background, then crawls on the orange-red dirt.

Hentai is one of several slow songs included in Motomami, an album that showcases Rosalía’s vocal range and powerful falsetto. The song becomes more industrial and aggressive as the song progresses, while string instruments and an explosive percussion build on the piano chords.

This is the fourth music video to be released from Motomami, following La Fama, Rosalía’s bachata with Canadian artist The Weeknd, Saoko and Chicken Teriyaki. Two days ahead of the release, the Catalan singer shared a video of herself reciting the lyrics of the track, as though it were a poem. It was a daring sneak peek, not without controversy, which showed Rosalía was capable of mixing sex and religion in the same ballad.

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