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El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

‘Orquídeas’ embodies the elegance of the orchid

Kali Uchis’s fourth studio album, while predictable, delivers emotional depth
Geffen Records
The “Orquídeas” album cover portrays Grammy-winning musician Kali Uchis submerged in water, covered in orchid petals and surrounded by vibrant cool tones.

“Por fin me di cuenta que me merezco mucho más / Y eso te mata” [I finally realized that I deserve so much more / and that kills you] (“Te Mata,” Track Six)

Colombia’s national flower, the orchid, or “orquídeas” in Spanish, symbolizes three characteristics: pride, passion and desire. Colombian-American singer and songwriter Kali Uchis embeds these traits in her fourth studio album “Orquídeas,” released Jan. 12, 2024, with its 14 tracks tracing the spectrum of emotions after a breakup. Known for her catchy lines and distinct style of flawlessly intertwining English and Spanish lyrics, Uchis rose to fame in the mainstream R&B genre with her 2012 mixtape “drunken babble.” In “Orquídeas,” she chooses to stray away from this distinction with the majority of the album being in Spanish, creating a familiar yet fresh listening experience. 

“Orquídeas” features five artists, four of whom are Latinx musicians. In her past work such as albums “Red Moon in Venus” and “Isolation,” the majority of her featured artists were popular American musicians such as Steve Lacy, Tyler the Creator and Bootsy Collins. Nonetheless, the selection of featured artists in “Orquídeas” is impeccable, as each showcases a unique aspect of Uchis’s diverse style. 

The first collaboration of the album is track three titled “Igual Que Un Ángel,” which features Mexican artist Peso Pluma. The song represents personal gratification and pride after a romantic relationship has fallen apart as a result of superficial aspects including money and fame. The two artists complement each other brilliantly, with Pluma’s raspy voice beautifully contrasting Uchis’s perfectly enunciated words. Their overlapping voices create a euphonious listening experience that perfectly reflects the song’s lyrical meaning. 

“Todos quieren plata, otros quieren fama / Un amor superficial / Pero ella quiere calma, no dañar su alma / Nunca se olvida de lo real/ Un corazón como el tuyo está en extinció-o-on / Heaven must have sent you love” [Everyone wants money, others want fame / A superficial love / But she wants calm, not to harm her soul / She never forgets what is real/ A heart like yours is on the verge of extinction / Heaven must have sent you love] (“Igual Que Un Ángel,” Track 3)

While Peso Pluma’s feature portrays a more melodious version of Uchis, “Muñekita,” featuring El Alfa and JT, evokes a more seductive and upbeat style. This track stands out on the album, due to its portrayal of passion which is conveyed through the hard-hitting beats paired with sensual lyrics and repetition. Similarly, “Labios Mordidos,” featuring Colombian artist KAROL G, emphasizes personal desires and follows themes of women empowerment. However, while “Labios Mordidos” holds significant meaning, it is the one feature in the album that lacks differentiation, with both KAROL G and Uchis’s voices blending together, failing to show both artists’ distinct vocals. 

Apart from her featured songs, “Orquídeas” feels somewhat monotonous, following the same outline: EDM beats overlaid with Uchis’s unvarying voice. Without the featured artists, it feels as if Uchis lacks the ability to create unique music that stays true to her R&B genre. The one exception to this is the sixth track on the album “Te Mata,” with the song’s vibe completely differing from other tracks. Rather than using hard-hitting beats, it utilizes a more instrumental background featuring drums, cymbals and the string family. Alongside this, Uchis’s vocals gain maturity, with her voice inflecting to convey deeper emotions. Paired with the background instrumental, it produces an old-fashion ambiance that is a mixture of Uchis’s R&B genre and the traditional Cuban bolero genre. Additionally, Uchis’s lyricism tells the story of moving on from a toxic relationship and self-growth, using contrasting references to the devil and angel wings to amplify the song’s emotion. The strength in the lyricism accompanied by Uchis’s raw vocal emotion creates a story that even non-Spanish speaking listeners can recognize and relate to.

“Pues eso ya pasó, esa ya no soy yo / 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” [Well that’s already happened, that’s not me anymore / If that makes me bad, then devil is what I am / You will never be able to cut my wings / And that’s what kills you] (“Te Mata,” Track Six)

The cinematography in the “Te Mata” music video creates a retro ambiance that complements the song.

Uchis’s ability to connect her music to her Colombian roots and convey genuine emotion to her audience despite language barriers is truly astounding. However, despite the strong connection to Latinx culture, “Orquídeas” falls short in terms of variety causing a sense of predictability among the tracks. In spite of its few flaws, “Orquídeas,” as intended, embodies the symbolism of the orchid, as seen by Uchis’s passionate delivery of empowering and prideful lyrics, leaving listeners with the desire for Uchis’s next album.


About the Contributor
Ananya Chaudhary
Ananya Chaudhary, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Ananya is currently a junior and Arts & Entertainment editor for El Estoque. She enjoys reading, watching "How I Met Your Mother" (all nine seasons) and going on walks with her dog.
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