Music gives everything, to express yourself with your language, to paint landscapes, so that others enter the private prism of your world, but above all to touch the deepest fibers…Miguel Bosé
Miguel Bosé is Spanish Pop Culture Royalty and I am a devoted fan. Through following his career over the years, I have learned much about Spanish media (which he has been relentlessly hounded by) and Bosé was, in fact, my introduction to Spanish pop culture and music history. When the film Billy Elliot was released, the gossip in Spain circulated that it was based on the early life of Bosé. While there is no evidence to prove this, certainly Bosé’s own story has a few points in common with the fictional Billy Elliot — except instead of being the son of a coal miner, he was raised as the privileged only son of a renowned Spanish bullfighter, Miguel Dominguín. His mother is Italian actress Lucia Bosè. Born in 1956, Miguel Bosé decided to pursue a dance career in the early 1970s, taking classes in London with Lindsay Kemp, in Paris with Martha Graham and with Alvin Ailey in New York.
Trivia: In Dario Argento’s Italian horror masterpiece Susperia, Bosé has a small part as one of the ballet students.
His music career began in the late 70’s with catchy if not very memorable pop songs. By the early 1980’s, the Movida Madrileña — the counterculture creative movement begun in the first years after the death of Franco — had rapidly changed the landscape of Spanish Pop Culture. Movida Madrileña helped prompt Bosé to create a more experimental, mature sound which has allowed his music to keep evolving and, at its best, is filled with imagination, profound romanticism, social reflection and even playfulness.
Trivia: Movida Madrileña icon, director Pedro Almodóvar, featured Bosé in one of his most eccentric films, Tacones Lejanos (1991), translated as High Heels. The male lead was difficult to cast, as the actor had to be believable as both a drag queen and as an investigating court judge. The casting of Bosé gave the film a boost in publicity long before its release.
While he still tours widely — with quite a global large fan base — Bosé is not one of the Nostalgia Acts. I have selected eight songs (in order of release, though some videos are later versions) that are very well-known including a few that are an essential part of the Spanish pop music history.
Linda (Beautiful) 1977
Linda is a song from Bosé’s early pop music career that has had long-lasting (just over 40 years!) success —and this version, recorded as a duet in 2012 with Spanish singer Malú, demonstrates the creative way Bosé can successfully revive an old hit without even a hint of nostalgia.
Amante Bandido (Bandit Lover) 1980
The first Bosé song I ever heard, Amante Bandido is a wildly popular, enduring pop hit that elevated him to super-stardom in Spain, and beyond.
The music video, filmed in Italy, is a classic itself.
Como un Lobo (Like a Wolf) 1980
Another well-known pop song that gained even more popularity when it was revived in 2007 as a playful, upbeat version featuring a duet with Bosé’s niece, Bimba. When Bimba Bosé died of cancer in 2017, this duet version was once again heard on the airwaves here as a tribute.
Sevilla is one of Bosè’s best-known songs, with an enduring popularity due to its subject: the city of Sevilla (Seville). It is brimming with romantic imagery associated with the Andalusian city. Interestingly, the typical music of Sevilla, flamenco, is not incorporated into the production — this is a personal, unique love song to a city. My favorite version of the song is from Bosé’s 2005 concert in Mexico City, with orchestra and chorus.
Aire Soy (I am Air)1986
A great example of Bosé elevating a simple love song into a hauntingly memorable pop masterpiece. The glimpses of Madrid and his dance mirroring the moves of a bullfighter make the video memorable.
A powerful song, despairing of an indifferent, dystopian world — with this, Bosé expands his musical horizon once more.
Verde Canalla (Young Scoundrel) 2005
Verde Canalla is from my favorite Bosé album to date, Velvetina, which he has called his most personal work. A mixture of pop, electronica and chill-out, it was critically acclaimed and even controversial for its social/sexual openness.
Encanto (Enchantment) 2014
I spent Christmas 2014 in Cordoba and Encanto was all over the airwaves there — no, it is not a holiday song, but it seemed to blend well with the historic city. A beautiful production.
For more information about Miguel Bosé, visit his website.
The photo of Miguel Bosé is from his Facebook page.