“SAOKO” by Rosalía

The title of this song (“SAOKO”) is reportedly an African term pointing to the concept of movement. And movement apparently is what the Puerto Rican colloquialism “saoco” is derived from. Accordingly, based on Rosalía’s own explanation, the lyrics of this piece “revolve around transformation” and “celebrating oneself through the different phases of change”.

So in the first verse for instance we have references to water freezing, night turning into day. The chorus into the second verse is apparently meant to point to an idea like even though the vocalist goes through her own transformations, she keeps it real internally, or something like that. 

So even though life may have its changes, Rosalía isn’t afraid to go out and face the world. Or phrased alternatively yet again, it is this malleability, if you will, which empowers the narrator to face various challenges.

Outside of that, the way the lyrics jump during the latter part of the song give the impression that it is a dance piece. And we would have to presume that the thesis sentiment being put forth, as detailed above, comes across clearer in Spanish. This is the language in which the lyrics were actually dropped in. But conclusively, in asserting that she ‘transforms’ and ‘is all things’, it reads as if the vocalist is expressing, most simply put, that she’s empowered to face anything that may come her way.

Lyrics of Rosalia's "SAOKO"
Rosalia explains "SAOKO"

Facts about “SAOKO”

On 4 February 2022, courtesy of Columbia Records, this track was released. Columbia released it as the second single from the “Motomami” project. This project is the title of Rosalía’s 2022 studio album. 

Rosalía, a pop singer from Spain, gets songwriting and production credit for “Saoko” alongside the writers mentioned below:

  • Noah Goldstein
  • Sir Dylan
  • Michael Uzowuru

And others who are credited solely in a writing capacity are:

  • Justin Quiles
  • David Rodriguez
  • DJ Urba
  • Yomi
  • Wisin

Wisin is a reggaeton artist from Puerto Rico. A similarly-entitled track he dropped in 2004 entitled “Saoco”, which served as the inspiration for “Saoko”, was also interpolated into the track. Relatedly, Rosalía intended this piece to serve as her “most direct homage… to classic raggaeton”.

Another stylistic influence on “Saoko” is said to have been derived from the following:

  • Kanye West’s 2013 album Yeezus
  • Nine Inch Nails’ album entitled The Downward Spiral (1994)
  • The works of Arca, a Barcelona-based Venezuelan musician

Rosalía first teased this song, via Rolling Stone, in November of 2021.

The director of this track’s music video, which was filmed in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, is Valentin Petit.

SAOKO

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