Karol G Talks ‘Mañana Será Bonito,’ Working With Shakira & Finneas and Letting Go
"I got tired of being the 'bichota' for everything."
Despite featuring “TQG,” her vaunted post-breakup collaboration with Shakira, do not for a second think that Karol G’s new album is born out of scorn or heartache. Instead, Mañana Será Bonito (out today on Universal Music Latino), which literally translates to “Tomorrow Will Be Pretty,” is a snapshot of Karol G’s moment today — a moment she describes as “authentic and genuine, now more than ever.”
Coming off the highest-grossing 2022 tour for a Latin woman in 2022, as well as a slew of milestones –including being the first woman to hold Nos. 1 and 2 simultaneously on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart since Selena in 1995 — Karol G has released an album that includes several of those smash hits, but also a cadre of surprises. There’s her collab with Shakira, something both fans and pundits had long yearned to hear from the two Colombian stars, as well as the beautiful title track, which unexpectedly brings in the soulful/alternative Carla Morrison into a gentle reggaetón groove, and the very sexy “X Si Volvemos” with Romeo Santos.
For Karol G, the stakes were high to deliver a strong set after a year of being lauded as the top woman in Latin music, and particularly after the huge success of 2021’s KG0516. With help from longtime producer and collaborator Ovy on the Drums, and an intriguing list of guest artists that also includes Spanish rapper Quevedo and Panama’s Sech, Mañana Será Bonito strives to cover the many sides of Karol G, using a bold reggaetón and electronic palate and relying on immediately relatable, yet sophisticated lyrics.
In a heartfelt conversation with Billboard, the Colombian star delved into the importance of this moment, why being a bichota isn’t always a good thing, and yes, how that Shakira collab came about.
You’ve said this particular moment in time is very emotional and very important to you, more so than other major milestones. Why?
Everything you do in a career like this becomes important. But definitely, I spent many years working toward a moment where I could demonstrate, where I could elevate – so to speak— the female genre, and represent us in a strong, powerful way. And I think this is that moment, because I’ve been able to garner the attention and establish myself in a position where people are expectant. Although I didn’t create this album thinking about this; I simply made music.
Describe Karol G right now, in two words.
“Authentic” and “genuine.” I definitely stopped thinking about what people would say, the stories, the comments, the news, and I made the music I wanted to make.
Was it difficult to divorce yourself form the onslaught of social media?
We haven’t divorced yet! [Laughs.] It’s a complicated relationship. I think it’s something you never really toss out. At the end of the day, you’re not on social media to see what people think — but there are certain things you need feedback on. If I do a show, I want to know how people felt, for example, and it’s not a bad thing to sometimes get feedback that doesn’t sit well with us. But I no longer let it affect me at a personal level.
Why? Do you feel more sure of yourself?
Yes. And I got that confidence from my followers. I’ve always said they and I have a very close relationship, even if we don’t know each personally, and with my music and my personality I make them feel a certain way, and they do the same. It’s continuous positive feedback.
Mañana será bonito is such a beautiful album name. Was that always the theme of the album or did it come from the title track?
When the album began, it had no name. The first songs I wrote were very dark, full of anger and ire. And I’m not speaking only about love; in a way, I was in a dark personal moment.
At some point I had to recognize that I was an even bigger bichota if I admitted to myself that it wasn’t OK to pretend that everything was perfect when it wasn’t.
Mm. It’s hard to imagine even your darkest moments not filled with light…
You know, there came a point when I got tired of being the “bichota” for everything. At some point I had to recognize that I was an even bigger bichota if I admitted to myself that it wasn’t OK to pretend that everything was perfect when it wasn’t. Mañana Será Bonito came about when I started to write songs that were no longer dark. I started to write songs more about freedom. More explicit songs about women who are up for anything to feel better. I hadn’t written a love song in a long time, and I arrived at a love song with “Tus gafitas.” Everything simply began to come more beautiful to me.
So, what name do I give this process? Every time I was going through issues, I’d tell my friends: “This is happening, that’s happening — but tomorrow will be pretty.” It became a mantra, and that became the album title.
Everyone has yearned for a Shakira-Karol G collab for such a long time. You grew up looking up to her. What was the importance of Shakira in this album?
All of us as Latinos have to recognize she’s the one who represents us as Latinas around the world. When I was on set shooting the video and I was watching her, I was realizing all the amazing and legendary moments in her career, and a lot of things I need to work on to get to that point. But it was such a blessing to have her.
This song was born the same day I wrote the verse for “Mamiii.” It was a good day! We were in the studio, I was with Becky G finishing some details for “Mamiii,” and I stayed in the studio. I was with my team, with Ovy, with [writer/producer] Keityn. And we were trying to figure out what we were going to do, because I had said “yes” to Becky, and now we had two songs — but the topic was the same [heartbreak diss tracks].
Then when I saw the story about Shakira and her situation, this song again gained meaning. I really want songs to have a meaning and connect with real stories. I called Shakira, in October of last year — I said, “Hey, I know you’re going through this, and I’m sorry to be so direct.” [But] when she heard the song, she said, “I love it!” Then she explained she had this song coming with Bizarrap and I said, “OMG what are we going to do?”
She asked me to wait to launch this song, so we moved everything. [Even then I said], “Hey, you have ‘Te Felicito,’ “Monotonia,’ the Bizarrap session and then ‘TQG’ with me. It’s four songs [on similar topics].’ And she said, ‘You know what? It doesn’t mean I’m singing this song for somebody [specific].'”
So, you’re saying the song goes beyond your personal heartbreaks or personal situations?
I would love for people to simply listen to this song, as a song. Obviously as artists, we write songs based on personal situations we’ve lived — but at the end of the day, those songs aren’t aimed at anyone in particular, or are meant to hurt anyone. I’d love for my music to be divorced from a ton of situations and that people could enjoy them for what they are: songs that tell stories so people can identify with those stories.
You produced “Tus Gafitas” with Ovy on the Drums and with Finneas. Tell us about that?
I met Finneas last year in Austin and we spoke about working together. I told him, when I do that, I want it to be with a song that has special meaning, something big, something beautiful. I wrote “Tus Gafitas” on a plane, on my way to Cairo to film the video of “Cairo!” And when I landed I said, “I have the song.” I called him, I sang it to him — I told him I wanted a rock vibe, because I wanted a special sound for that track. And the fact that that song is so mine, so special and I have such a maestro working on it, is incredible.
You’ve done so much the last 18 months. Are you still learning? And if so, what lesson stands out?
I’ve learned an infinity of things, as an artist and as a person. Something very beautiful is that I reached a point where I was tired of trying to fit into many situations: The way I talk, they way I dress, the way my body looks. I needed to let go. I want people to see Carolina beyond Karol G, beyond looking perfect all the time because I’m an artist, beyond speaking perfectly, telling perfect stories, looking perfect. The fact that I allowed myself to flow naturally and that people connected shows me the world is eager to see peoples’ true personalities.
This generation is always told how to be all the time: how to post a photo to get more likes, how to talk so you’re seen as nice or cool, how to dress. When at the end of the day, they should be teaching that it’s amazing that you’re you — because everyone needs to meet different people to continue to grow and evolve and learn.