A Frothy Spanish Singer-Songwriter Establishes her Bona Fides


Maybe you have to be there, but the highlight of any Bebe show usually comes when she pretends to be a Bush twin. She puts on a blond wig, flounces around—it gets pretty involved—and makes jokes to the effect that the electric chair would be a lot more efficient if it were an electric sofa. Or something like that.

Eddie “Bushleaguer” Vedder was never able to get away with this sort of thing back in the early Oughts, but these days it’s Bebe’s way of establishing her bona fides. The Spanish singer-songwriter, unnoticed stateside until her recent Latin Grammy win, hit it big back home with “Malo,” a fiery depiction of domestic violence that was Spain’s answer to “Luka,” except catchier and more detailed (“Every time you call me a whore/Your brain gets smaller”).

Bebe’s debut, Pafuera Telarañas (roughly translated as “Out With the Cobwebs”), is a frothy, fulminating mix of dance-pop, flamenco, rap, and ska that’s intended to position her as a more antic Ani DiFranco; more Urban Outfitters, in other words, less Putumayo. But Pafuera is at once pretty great and a little disappointing. Given the cultural confines of Spanish pop it’s adventurous enough, but it’s still mostly conventional love songs—ultimately more radical in spirit than in deed.