Lao Ra’s Subversive Pop Music Creates Beauty From Heartbreak

Photo: Ana Sting

Meet Lao Ra, the Colombian singer who uses her pop-punk energy and beaming Latin vibe to make wickedly passionate subversive pop music.

Spending part of her youth in Bogota, Ra found the city influenced her perception of music in various ways. At the start of the singer’s career, her music took on a symbolic Catholic undertone due to her roots in such a predominantly religious town. Fittingly enough, it would be her single 2016 single “Jesus Made Me Bad” that would put her on the map. 

Ra’s sound settles itself somewhere between modern reggaeton and lively Latin pop. Her set of 2018 singles, “No Pressure,” “Patrona,” and “Me Gusta,” effectively fused English and Spanish over bouncing tropical beats. Each of those songs gave a comprehensive look at Ra’s wild-child style. She spent her childhood not only in Bogota but also in the UK. The darker and more hard-hitting elements in her music she attributes to her time in London, being immersed in the city’s ever-present punk and rock cultures.

Her newest release, “Picaflor,” is the first of many upcoming releases slated to make waves at the top of 2020. “Picaflor” is a dramatic song that pulls the curtain away revealing a battling couple. Ra sings about her tumultuous relationship with a man who only wanted to have her “tiger stripes,” so “he could wear them as a coat.” Ra spoke further on the passionate track, sharing

“‘Picaflor’ offers a sultrier and more melancholic version of me. It’s a song about a hunter and a prey, where a hunter is hunted and where hummingbirds fly and flowers grow in the foreground of chaos. The song is a metaphor for a toxic relationship.”

The feature from notable Spanish rapper, C. Tangana, gives the song a conversational aspect. He reacts to Ra’s vitriol with understanding, because he’s not blind to the mess he made. However, his attempt to win her back is futile. Ra is like a wilting flower. Without water, without love, she seems to become brittle. Soon she breaks. Directed by Hector Dockrill, the visual accompaniment to “Picaflor” paints an all but muted picture of Ra’s descent into destruction. 

Watch the video for “Picaflor” below:

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