There is no doubt: Nebulossa’s ‘Zorra’ is in a good moment. Honoring its lyrics, the song that won the Benidorm Fest last Saturday and will represent Spain in Eurovision 2024 has reached levels of popularity this week that are inappropriate for almost any Eurovision proposal. While the Spanish candidates from previous editions went practically unnoticed by the general public, this year’s option has grabbed the main headlines of the week and has unleashed a wave of conflicting opinions about the supposedly feminist and transgressive message it champions.
According to a Gad3 survey, 87% of Spanish citizens have heard the song since his victory in the tourist city of Alicante and practically half consider that it has a powerful and relevant message. Its diffusion has been such that the performance of the Nebulossa adds more than four million views in seven days on YouTube (if we add the views on the RTVE Música channel and the Eurovision channel) and it has remained within the top 10 of the most listened to on Spotify. In fact, on Wednesday it became the second most viral song globally on the famous Swedish streaming platform.
Dizzying data for a musical duo that before embarking on the Benidorm Fest adventure barely exceeded a thousand monthly listeners on Spotify and played in small venues for just twelve fans. “When I heard the song for the first time I knew it had something. It was like a small event, something very necessary that had to be in the contest no matter what,” points to questions HuffPost Rayden, member of the RTVE selection committee for the Benidorm Fest. Along with nine other professionals, the musician chose the 16 songs that last week competed for the precious bronze microphone and the ticket to Eurovision. “‘Zorra’ defends a series of issues that have to change Spain, such as the issue of ageism in the arts. I like to think that the Benidorm Fest is not only a showcase, but also a place for vindication,” he maintains. .
But not everyone sees in this song a plea in defense of women’s freedom, as could initially be assumed, but rather the opposite. In the last daysconservative sectors of society and part of the feminist sector have been convulsed by the disruptive force of a proposal that seeks to resignify a denigrating insult towards women to turn it into an expression of freedom and empowerment.
“‘Bitch’ is a word that I have carried within me for a long time. In fact, all women have felt insulted, marginalized and denigrated at some point. Therefore, I decided that I had to leave that word aside, empower myself and get rid of everything that had made me feel bad for a long time. It is very curious that a vowel can change the radical meaning of a word. Why is ‘fox’ used when we talk about someone cunning and ‘bitch’ is an insult?“explained María Bas in an interview in December to HuffPost.
But not all of her ‘colleagues’ have understood the song that way. The Feminist Movement of Madrid has filed a complaint about the election, considering that it is “nonsense to attempt to settle the grievance of insistently repeating the word ‘bitch’ as empowerment of women,” it states on the social network X, where it denounces that It is an offense to reason and to the women’s rights movement to describe the lyrics of this song as “feminist.” The Alliance against the Erasure of Women, which was also against the trans law, regrets that “misogyny and nastiness are assumed to be empowering and very much feminist” in this song.
On the other hand, conservative media have called the proposal “vulgar” and a product of “woke ideology.” “Only from an ideology that clouds reason and good taste can something like this be defended to represent Spain in an international song festival,” noted COPE, the bishops’ radio station, in its editorial this past Monday.
Bitch, whore, witch… and now, slut
The truth is that the resignification of insults to turn them into a flag for vindication has never been foreign to music. The LGTBIQ+ collective has appropriated the term “faggot” and in many of the artists’ songs queer It is sung in a ‘normalized’ way. And, within feminism, Artists such as Rigoberta Bandini, Zahara, Mala Rodríguez and La Zowi have wanted to appropriate terms such as “bitch”, “whore” or “witch” through their different works. Nothing new under the sun.
Nor is it new to ‘resignify’ the word ‘Bitch’. In the eighties, the Vulpess came out playing on the program Beatbox a retitled version of the Stooges I like being a slut and the Episcopal Conference – the same one that now criticizes Nebulossa’s song through its station – asked for the head of Carlos Tena, director of the program. The band’s career also came to an end. “I still like to say that I’m a bitch, it still empowers me, because it means that I feel liberated, that I don’t care what they call me (…) Those who criticize are the same ones who did it more than 40 years ago, including the feminists who attacked us for how we were dressed,” Loles Vázquez, a member of Las Vulpes, told La Ser when asked about this ‘resurrected’ controversy.
If Rigoberta Bandini wondered in Ow mom why are our tits so scary, one might also wonder why zorra It is still considered almost a taboo word. “The lyrics of the song couldn’t be whiter. It’s a way to neutralize an insult and it’s made so that Cro-Magnons like Carlos Flores (Vox leader convicted of mistreatment) can hear it.”“, defends Rayden.
“Nebulossa did not expect this repercussion”
The debate has been of such intensity that the Government has had to speak out on the matter. For the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, it is part of “a fair and fun feminism”, and for the Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun, “it is a groundbreaking song that will represent us wonderfully.” Only the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande Marlaska, has hesitated in defending him. “Culture usually uses other lexicon,” he assured this Friday.
The foreign press has also echoed the controversy and media such as the BBC, The Times, The Guardian and Le Figaro speak of a “national debate” that breaks with the “Spanish reputation for insipid titles and letters.” Some reactions that do not cause concern in María and Mark, the members of Nebulossa. “They are very calm. They did not expect this repercussion, but they trust their song and their message. They are already focused on the challenge of singing at Eurovision”, say people close to this now successful duo. This Friday, in fact, they performed at the Lanzarote Drag Queen gala.
And despite the incessant complaints, RTVE proudly displays the success of the song on digital platforms, although it has also suffered the resignation of its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion delegate. “I apologize to the victims of gender violence. ‘Zorra’ is neither empowerment for women nor feminism,” Montserrat Boix noted on social networks.
Spain’s options in Eurovision
And strictly musically, what can we expect from Nebulossa at Eurovision? After her election, the candidacy has been received with a certain lukewarmness among international Eurofans and, in betting houses, Spain has dropped to 19th place. “It is a weak proposal in principle because Eurovision tends to penalize poor vocal performance, especially the jury. Furthermore, the staging that we saw at the Benidorm Fest is quite hackneyed and does not have much relation to the concept of the theme,” he assures HuffPost Odi O’Malleyinfluential music analyst.
The expert predicts that Spain will once again remain “at the bottom of the classification” this year, but applauds the audience’s brave decision. “For once we bring a song that we like without thinking about what might work at Eurovision. We always go with the idea of competing and this year the goal is to have a good time,” she adds.