New Rosalía single ‘LLYM’ celebrates the lovefool in all of us

By Isabella Vega, Correspondent

Shimmering Catalan songstress Rosalía has released her new flamenco pop single, “LLYLM.” The song comes just weeks after she released a series of TikTok videos teasing the chorus, sending fans—including myself—into an impatient frenzy.

The single cover art, released via Instagram not long after the TikTok videos, hinted at the song’s meaning even before its release: the feeling of falling in crush-love for the first time. The cover art shows Rosalía jumping for joy on a bed littered with artifacts of an archetypical girl in love—a journal with a white pen, her cellphone with a color-coordinated case to her boots, a folded hoodie, and a bracelet. And while the prominent pink boots seem out of place at first glance, it ends up being a perfect metaphor for how weightless and camp love makes us all feel. 

Through the cover art, Rosalía painted for her listeners the unrequited love story that “LLYLM” tells.

“LLYLM”—an acronym for the chorus’ refrain “lie like you love me”—tells the story of unrequited love, where Rosalía lays herself bare and unrelentlessly fawning for all to see. This track is a milestone for the singer, marking not only a return to her flamenco-dominated style, but also as her first single to be sung in both Spanish and English. Rosalía not only sang LLYLM, but contributed to the writing, production, and composition of the track.

The song begins with a repetitive hand-clap and low bassline, which serves as the heartbeat for the song. Rosalía’s unmistakable lilt enters, laying out the theme for the song in one go, “El que quiero, no me quiere como quiero” (The one I love doesn’t love me how I love him.”) 

This story bleeds into the levitational chorus, where Rosalía sings, “I don’t need honesty, baby, lie like you love me, lie like you love me. Cover me in a dream, I’m yours or fantasy. Who needs the honesty? Baby, lie like you love me, lie like you love me. Maybe at the end, it becomes real enough for me.” 

Through these lyrics, Rosalía tells the story of being so deeply in love that she doesn’t care if her potential lover doesn’t actually love her back; she just wants to believe they do—blurring the line between authentic feelings and an illusory dream of this person. The chorus features an interpolation of A-ha’s mega hit, “Take on Me,” which is noticeable in the alluring synth pattern. 

The bridge, however, is where “LLYLM” truly shines. The larger-than-life production of the song cuts out, and the listener is left listening to Rosalía vocalizing in her traditional flamenco style. 

The artist weaves a lustful story in a folkloric tone, hypnotic and transcendental, singing, “Ay, dame esa, esa pulsera de flores, Me la pondré en la muñeca. Cuando despierte, así yo lo sabré. Así yo lo sabré, yo sabré que fue real. Será mi tótem, lo sabes tú y nadie más.” (“Give me that bracelet of flowers, I will put it on my wrist. When I wake up, I will know. Then I will know, I will know that it was real. It will be my totem, only you will know and no one else.”)

Rosalía so desperately wants her potential lover to give her the same energy she is giving them; to give her a piece of them that she can wear to keep them alive in her reality, while she begs them to keep her alive in theirs.

“LLYLM” is Rosalía’s first release of 2023, following up the smash-hit success of her second studio album, “Motomami,” which showed the singer moving in a more alternative reggaeton direction than her previous, more flamenco-inspired work. There is even a reference to “Motomami” in the second verse of “LLYLM”, which says “Vengo en moto, soy una mami” (I’m coming in a motorcycle, I am a mami). 

Since “Motomami,” she has released two tracks: the cumbia-inspired “Despecha,” and a remix of “Despecha” featuring rapper Cardi B in 2022. “LLYLM” marks her third post-”Motomami” project.

For me, “LLYLM” marks a welcome return to the core of who Rosalía is as an artist,  reviving the flamenco style (a cultural heritage both her and I share) for an audience of mainly pop listeners. 

Layered, rich, and deeply pining, “LLYLM” celebrated the silly girl in love I try so hard to snuff out lately, for fear of showing any real vulnerability. A wise friend once told me, “What are you if you’ve never in your life been a pathetic fool in love?” Rosalía found a way for me to celebrate the “pathetic fool in love,” one who campily jumps on her bed when her first love asks her out to dinner, or the one who spends most of her time daydreaming about her unrequited crush.

If “LLYLM” is any indication of what’s to come, Rosalía’s flamenco pop era is here to stay, with a whole heap of love songs making its way to us in her new musical era.