Madrid in 10 music videos

  • Fotograma de Cómo te va querida (2019). Rels B y Don Patricio.

Bloggin Madrid

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the streets and buildings of Madrid have provided the backdrop for some of the best music videos ever to be recorded in the language of Cervantes. In this post, I’m going to run through the videos that have shown the city at its best. The list includes songs of love and heartbreak and styles that range from pop to trap and from rock to Latin. So, in reverse order, from number ten to number one, here goes! By Ignacio Vleming. 

10. Madrid (2010). Ariel Rot & The Cabriolets.

Ariel Rot & The Cabriolets are at number ten with the cover of Mexican composer Agustín Lara’s chotis that they recorded for the Tourism Department of Madrid City Council. A towering Bimba Bosé stomped along the pavement of Gran Vía avenue to a rock ‘n’ roll beat to celebrate the centenary in 2010 of what is undoubtedly the most frequently filmed street in the entire city of Madrid.The Capitol Building which appears repeatedly in the video is also the backdrop to such huge hits as Pablo Alborán’s Solamente tú (2010) and Bailando por ahí (2011), by Juan Magán. 2010 wasn’t the last time Agustín Lara's famous song was covered, though. In 2017, to promote the Flamenco Madrid festival, the City Council launched a video that went on to win numerous national and international awards. It features a select group of Flamenco dancers and singers performing in such places as El Retiro Park, Atocha StationBarajas Airport, the Temple of DebodLa LatinaLa Cuesta de Moyano, the Plaza Mayor and, of course, Gran Vía avenue.

9. Un, dos, tres… al escondite inglés (1969). Los Bravos, Fórmula V, Los Íberos…

Although not strictly speaking a music video, Iván Zulueta’s film added images to the music being made by many of the so-called “Yeyé” pop bands of the time and it did so in some of the most recognisable places in Madrid, such as El Retiro Park, Gran Vía avenue, Plaza de España, the Ciudad Universitaria… Today it is considered a precursor of a genre that would have to wait until the 80s to become a regular feature on the small screen. Of course they made some really good music films in the 60s, but the one I’ve chosen to occupy slot number 9 was filmed as if it were a music video, in other words, with the same kind of rhythm and narrative freedom that has made them so popular.

8. 32 escaleras (2017). Rulo y la Contrabanda with Dani Martín

This video shows the entire city, from above and at dusk, as if they’d used an Instagram filter. If you want to sing on a rooftop, as the Beatles did in their last and now legendary concert on the roof of the Apple Corps recording studio, then you’d be best advised to choose a much taller building that’ll put your source of inspiration to shame - that’s how cool we guys are in the capital. The building I’m talking about is the Torre Europa, in AZCA, and from its lofty vantage point we can see Torre Picasso, Torre BBVA, the Torres KioTorre España (El Pirulí) and the Paseo de la Castellana.

7. Hablarán de ti y de mí (2017). Vanesa Martín

If it’s a question of art direction and historical setting, then that makes the choice much easier. And the award goes to… Vanesa Martín and the song that was theme tune for the popular TV series Cable Girls. This video brings us back to the Gran Vía avenue, albeit the Gran Vía of the 1920s and 30s, and to the Delicias Railway Station which is nowadays the Railway Museum.

6. Embrujada (1983). Tino Casal

If it’s hard enough to talk about Madrid without mentioning the Movida movement, then there’s no way you can talk about the Movida movement without humming some electronic pop song or other. The jewel in the crown is the music video they made for Embrujada, a collage of images pulled from cartoons, fiction films, documentaries and scenes filmed in a city that still had red buses and buildings in need of a good coat of paint. While some of the veterans of the Movida movement still hark back to that era, their progeny, however, prefer to show our neighbourhoods the way they are today, like Lavapiés and the Cerro Almodóvar in Hinds’ Finally Floating (2018).

5. Cuarteles de invierno (2014). Vetusta Morla.

If almost all of Paris fits into the Cour du Commerce Saint-André, then a good part of Madrid is in its museums. Vetusta Morla decided to shoot the video for their song Cuarteles de invierno in the ballroom of the Lázaro Galdiano Museum with quite spectacular results. The Museum of Romanticism and the Cerralbo Museum wanted to regale us with a similar image when they put on pop and rock concerts for a number of years, under the title A las veinte cero cero (At Eight PM).

4. Digital Witness (2014). St. Vincent

Sometimes it’s not so much that the entire city is condensed in just one place, it’s more that the most unsuspected places in Madrid are hidden in the shots of music videos. In the enigmatic Digital Witness, by the North American singer-songwriter St. Vincent, the new suburbs on the outskirts of the city and a water treatment plant are transformed into a retro-futuristic city somewhat reminiscent of films like Metropolis, according to its director, Chino Moya. It’s probably not one of our best postcard images, because the fact is, very few people will recognize any emblematic building in these images, but there’s no way we could leave out of this list what is undoubtedly the most arty piece, one that could easily adorn the walls of the Reina Sofía Museum itself.

3. Así estoy yo sin ti (1994). Joaquín Sabina

As you might expect, Joaquín Sabina occupies one of the top positions. There is no doubt that the singer-songwriter has composed some of the best songs about Madrid, with such cryptic lyrics as “Más triste que un torero / al otro lado del telón de acero” (Sadder than a bullfighter / on the other side of the iron curtain) or “Extraño como un pato en el Manzanares” (Strange, like a duck in the River Manzanares). The year was 1994 when he wrote this song and although the USSR had already collapsed a few years prior, some people still couldn’t believe it. And it would still be two decades before the riverbed was restored to its natural state! Even so, despite these inconsistencies, the video is a heartfelt tribute to the endless nights of a city where you can always find a bar to drown your sorrows in.

2. Te dejo Madrid (2002). Shakira.

A singer who managed to do something radically intoxicating with clichés was Shakira. Back in 2002, she released this music video that distorts and exaggerates everything we know about the art of bullfighting in what is one of Hispanic music’s most kitsch productions (and that’s saying something!). Some people may think it’s really pretty awful, but I think it’s actually one of the best portraits ever made of the city. Many of its principal attractions appear in the video, painted in a rather metaphysical style that emulates De Chirico: the Las Ventas Bullring, the Arquería Exhibition Hall in Nuevos Ministerios, the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, the Puerta de Alcalá Gate, the Puerta de Europa Gate, and Atocha Station. More recently, other major Latin stars have also had their eyes on us. Madrid (2020), by Maluma and Myke Towers, begins with a shot of the Telefónica Building and the statue of the Winged Victory on the Metropolis Building and then, as pretty as a postcard, we feature heavily in the latest video by Tini and Alejandro Sanz, Un beso en Madrid  (2020). The song in fact could just as easily be called a kiss in El Retiro Park (the Glass Palace, the Monument to the Fallen Angel, the Monument to Alfonso XIII), in Callao, by the Temple of Debod, or in Delicias Railway Station, the site of the Mercado de Motores, the monthly market organised amidst all the station’s trains.

1. Tú me dejaste de querer (2020). C. Tangana

Although other trap artists and urban singers have cast their eyes on the city, the number one spot could only go to this artist who goes by the name of “El Madrileño” (the Man from Madrid) and has recorded many of his music videos right here in Madrid. Comerte entera (2021), features the Royal PalaceLhardy and Casa Carvajal, one of Madrid’s most outstanding examples of brutalist architecture; while Tiempo (2017) contains shots of the Vallecas Eco-boulevard and the Cuatro Torres Business Area and Los chikos de Madriz (2016) highlights the Monument to Calvo Sotelo in Plaza de Castilla. But my winning vote goes to this music video that was directed by Little Spain, which offers a familiar and personal view of a Madrid seen from the rooftop of the Hotel Riu in the Edificio España, a view that materialises with all the beauty of nostalgia.


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