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The blossoming of Kali Uchis through “Orquídeas”

In her brand-new studio album, Uchis combines raw talent and a passion for sonic exploration to form an artistic triumph

<p>Reggaeton plays a huge role in this album as an influence, giving the album a melodic, groovy aura.&nbsp;</p>

Reggaeton plays a huge role in this album as an influence, giving the album a melodic, groovy aura. 

With the brand new release of the Spanish-language album “Orquídeas,” Kali Uchis shines, proving her range of talent and stellar ability of self-expression. Her new album taps into her more reggaeton-inspired, Latin pop side, swaying a bit from her softer, R&B roots.

Other artists featured in this album include Peso Pluma, El Alfa, JT from City Girls, Karol G and Rauw Alejandro, creating a nice sonic variety in features that don’t overpower Uchis.

The intro track, “¿Cómo Así?,” starts with Uchis’ signature intensely-reverbed vocals upon a fast-flowing beat, setting the stage for an album that highlights uniquely structured beats that masterfully ebb and flow with her vocals. 

Reggaeton has a huge influence on the album, giving it a melodic, groovy aura.  The basic rhythm found in songs in this genre is the repetition of three notes in a row, with a kick drum added. This structure is found in plenty of songs in “Orquídeas,” such as “Me Pongo Loca,” “Diosa” and “Labios Mordidos.” 

Moving further into the album, “Igual Que Un Ángel” stands out as a spunky, pop collaboration with artist Peso Pluma. She smoothly sings over the energetic beat, with the words, “Un corazón como el tuyo está en extinció-o-on / Heaven must have sent you, love.” Her lyrics are stunningly ethereal and well-suited to her dreamlike, soft voice. 

A bit later on in the album, “Te Mata” stands out as a song with intense bolero roots. Bolero is a Cuban genre of music dating back to the 19th century and is characterized by dramatic, romantic lyrics. 

Uchis twists the bolero tradition by aiming the lyrics towards a past lover whom she is detached from now, singing “Si eso me hace mala, pues diabla es lo que soy / Nunca vas a poder cortar mis alas / Y eso es lo que te mata.” This roughly translates to “If that makes me evil, thеn the devil is what I am / You will nevеr be able to cut my wings / And that's what kills you.” She shows the sheer power behind her vocals as she belts her journey towards personal growth and self-love. 

Uchis also utilizes a wide range of instruments, which are built by the refrain to be a blend of strings, trumpet, drums and guitar, all energetically propelling her message and melodies through the song.

“Muñekita” quickly starts with a fiery beat and addictively repetitive chorus with the lines “Tu angelita es lo que necesitas / Dale, gata, dale, muñequita.” The song features El Alfa and JT. El Alfa starts as the first feature, and his part starts off on a similar beat then slows dramatically before ebbing back into Uchis’ chorus line. This fast-to-slow transition happens again in verse two when Uchis switches into a slower flow, and then JT’s verse picks up the faster pace once more. 

“Muñekita” has a  hyperfast beat and sensual, provocative lyrics that serve as a call to Dominican dembow music. Dembow has been making a splash in Latin pop recently with its hyperfast beats, as seen in songs such as Bad Bunny’s “Tití Me Preguntó,” which was the first dembow song to win a Latin Grammy back in 2022. 

Towards the end of the album, “Heladito” is a clear call back to Kali Uchis’ traditional personal style of music as she sings delicately over a simple drumline. It is reminiscent of the bulk of her earlier albums, and especially songs such as “After The Storm” from her first studio album in 2018 called “Isolation.” It has heavy R&B influences and is an easy, smooth listen. 

Uchis’ bold exploration of genres, especially in the realm of Latin American music, pays off generously to create her bold and incredibly catchy new album. Many reviews from professional critics and fans alike are raving about the album, and music website Pitchfork even gave it a 8.4 rating out of 10, adding the album to their esteemed “best new music” category. “Orquídeas” is stylistically different from Uchis’ other music, but it is a prime example of unbounded artistic potential and growth from an extremely talented musician. 

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