The Madrid-based songwriter and producer Juan Casado debuted as Ralphie Choo in 2019 with a warped, lullaby-like remake of Rosalía and Ozuna’s “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi” and a string of muffled indie pop songs that could pass as demos. Named after a Simpsons character, the 23-year-old has since experimented with a broader swath of musical styles; he’s toyed with ricocheting electronics, hymn-like R&B, and horn-driven melodic rap. His latest single, the clattering “Bulerías de un Caballo Malo,” is a choppy, computerized take on flamenco. Like Rosalía, Choo pushes the traditional genre into exciting new terrain.
While the song’s message is ambiguous, Choo seems to be telling the story of a girl dolling up to attract attention, rapping gruffly about dancing and bad wagers. With squeaky, chopped vocals, a mechanical clapping rhythm, and an arpeggiated synth, the song’s robotic shuffle recalls Arca’s early mixtapes. The bulería rhythm allegedly takes its name from the Spanish words for “uproar” or “hurry,” gesturing to the lively, bustling nature of flamenco. But an alternative report suggests bulería comes from “bulero”—the regional term for a swindler, insinuating that deception is afoot. “They throw flowers at her so that she falls in love,” Choo sings delicately over flamenco handclaps and fingerpicked guitar, before a high-pitched voice hints at “what they don’t know.” Tough and delicate, glitchy and fluid, the song is as compelling as its protagonist.