Camp! 10 Artists Keeping Spanish Pop Witty & Queer

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla.
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla.
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Humor has always been the LGBTQ+ community’s most powerful weapon. Throughout history, biting satire and razor-sharp wit have empowered us to cut down our bullies and aim at the social structures designed to keep us quiet and obedient. But queer people are different—non-normative by definition—and art is where much of that rebelliousness has blossomed, leading to a unique narrative and aesthetic style we now refer to as camp.

Much more than a collective shorthand for something silly and queer-coded, camp is the exaggerated, theatrical art of failed seriousness. Fight scenes in telenovelas are camp. Juan Gabriel interviewing himself is camp. Peso Pluma getting the David Guetta treatment is camp as hell, though perhaps now he’ll also top the circuit party charts. Camp is everywhere if you know what you’re looking for, and though once upon a time it was more directly conflated with bad Hollywood acting and over-glitzed pop stars, it’s still very much a tool of resistance. 

Spain has a long-running relationship with camp, most notably exemplified by La Movida Madrileña and the wave of uproarious, sex and gender-defying art that flooded pop culture in the 1970s following the end of Francisco Franco’s decades-long military dictatorship. The punk-disco wiles of Alaska y Dinarama, as well as Pedro Almodovar’s boundary-pushing melodramas, have become essential queer canon. And camp has continued thriving through the years with everyone from provocative trans bombshell La Veneno to electropop satirists Las Bistecs and Ojete Calor to a parade of scene-stealing stars on “Drag Race España.”

“We’re always distrusting of things with no sense of humor,” reflects Catalonian surrealist art-pop duo Hidrogenesse over email. “We’re suspicious of art meant to be 100 percent serious. It can be dark humor, naive humor, a subtle turn of phrase, or a dash of unexpected mischief. That’s normal to us.”

The pair highlights how the contemporary Spanish pop landscape still nods to their predecessors of the ‘80s, like Miguel Bosé and Dinarama’s musical directors Carlos Berlanga and Nacho Canut. And even they, as well as Alaska, were avid fans and collectors of campy Spanish films and music from the ‘50s and ‘60s. So much of the queer experience is tapping into the legacy of our forebears while also acknowledging the fight is far from over. While stateside attacks on queer and trans rights have spiked in recent years, Spain is also grappling with the rise of TERF groups and the virulent far-right political party Vox.

“To me, humor is essential in the LGBTQ+ fight because through laughter and dance we can take a message to wherever it needs to go,” adds Madrid-based singer and activist Rocío Saiz. “We in the community already know that a revolution can happen through dancing, but for those who don’t understand our struggle, we’re more likely to reach them through joy than anger.”

Spain’s camp canon is already massive, and in 2023, the art form is still going strong. Rainbow-hued joy and humor are more important now than ever, so here are some essential Spanish artists keeping camp alive and feisty.

Samantha Hudson

Blasting into the stratosphere with their hilarious and controversial 2015 debut single “Maricón,” Samantha Hudson was able to quickly chart the trajectory of their career as a gender-rebellious pop agitator. They have since released a string of EPs and high-profile collaborations, once again tapping into transgressive magnificence alongside Papá Topo for 2022s “Por España,” which highlighted how those most vulnerable always bear the brunt of violent nationalism.

Papá Topo

For the past 15 years, Papá Topo has been a staple of Spain’s indie scene, oscillating between punky oddities, twee ditties, and psychedelic electro. Early singles like “Oso Panda” and “La Chica Vampira” gained cult status right out of the gate, even leading to a re-cut version of the latter with Mexican electro-pop maven Maria Daniela in 2020. While the melodramatic disco of “Ópalo Negro” and “La Telenovela” alongside drag star La Prohibida have kept the band in constant dance floor rotation, it’s their demented, absolutely rave-tastic ode to mermaids titled “Sirenear” that has become essential at every Pride celebration since.

Las Dianas

Sometimes camp comes in shimmering packages and other times it’s wrapped in snarling defiance. Granada-born Las Dianas broke out mid-pandemic putting the anger of constantly underestimated young women up front and funneling that rage into their hook-filled debut LP Lo Que Te Pide El Cuerpo. On “Beef Mac,” Las Dianas eviscerate the dudes that snicker at them backstage at festivals, while on “Hetero” they take a sledgehammer to the proverbial closet, all over a delicious cocktail of garage-punk. And get into their covers of Julieta Venegas’ “Me Voy” and Olé Olé’s “No Controles” (later made a cross-Atlantic hit by Flans), which bring their gleeful screams into sunnier territory.

Rocio Saiz

It was about time singer and activist Rocío Saiz broke out with a solo career. After a decade of cutting her teeth fronting slick-tongued punk band Las Chillers and transitioning into electro-pop as half of Monterrosa, she officially embarked on her solo journey in 2020 with a delightful cover of the Wham! classic, “Last Christmas.” Galvanized and unrestrained, her climb has been steady ever since. She called out online punitivism on the searing “Autocensura,” and the video for recent single “El Hartazgo del Mundo” name-checked casual misogyny from gay men with galactic panache.


Hidrogenesse has been confounding the masses since the late 1990s. Thumping fan favorites “Disfraz de Tigre” and “No Hay Nada Más Triste Que Lo Tuyo” introduced its delightful brand of danceable surrealism to global audiences in the mid-2000s. But their catalog also includes beautiful studies of gay WWII-era decoder Alan Turing’s erased romances in 2012s Un Dígito Binario Dudoso, as well as their own ongoing love affair with Mexico in 2019s Joterías Bobas. The band also veered into film soundtracks with this year’s sci-fi opus Cielo repleto de naves extraterrestres, and with their label Austrohúngaro, the flames of camp continue growing with a roster that includes artists such as Masoniería and Lidia Damunt.

La Prohibida

Before Supreme Deluxe stepped up as the host of “Drag Race España,” there was no question La Prohibida was the country’s most internationally beloved grand dame. Discovered in the late ‘90s by Alaska, La Prohibida—then a burgeoning drag cabaret star—joined Fangoria on tour as their opening act, which launched her career with early low-budget hits “Flash” and “Amor Eléctrico.” She has since recorded a string of excellent electropop albums, including 2015s 100k Años de Luz and 2019s Ruido, also touring constantly through Latin America to evergreen fanfare.

Ladilla Rusa

Some jokes get out of hand. In the case of Ladilla Rusa, journalists Tania Lozano y Víctor F. Clares started a band because they thought it would be fun to skewer tired archetypes through an electropop lens. And then they went viral. Bizarre, hysterical hits like “KITT y los coches del pasado,” “Macauly Caulkin,” and “After Party” take aim at the suffocating culture of nostalgia and the campy pomp of Eurovision, delivering an unrelenting barrage of winks and jabs over thumping bass lines.


Chenta Tsai is so ahead of the curve they might just be a time traveler. Under the moniker of PUTOCHINOMARICÓN, the acclaimed artist has shaken the table of Spanish pop with cutting diatribes on Instagram activism (“Tú No Eres Activista”), the indignities of aging (“Se Me Da Mal Ser Mayor”), and the always relatable topic of hating someone’s guts (“Gente de Mierda”). Unbound by genre, electropop, and the emo revival have all bent to Tsai’s will. And on 2022s spastic JÁJÁ ÉQÚÍSDÉ (Distopía Aburrida), hyperpop became a strobing canvas for catchy meditations on Y2K tech and corny boy bands.


Since breaking out in 2018 with the indie rock cover of C. Tangana’s “Llorando en la Limo” we didn’t know we needed, Cariño has pulled off an impressive balancing act of ironic pop songwriting and heartfelt torch songs. “Canción de Pop de Amor” and “Bisexual” off the 2018 debut LP Movidas took a deadpan approach to tired romantic tropes, while “Tamagotchi” off 2022s self-titled follow-up broke from their tried and true rock format with a refreshing dose of hyperpop. Cariño is whip-smart, unpredictable, and the most fun you’ll have in a mosh pit.

La Casa Azul 

Like the lovechild of Fangoria and Daft Punk, La Casa Azul hit the Spanish scene at the top of the 2000s with a euphoric mix of disco, europop, and bubbly optimism packaged in futuristic android imagery. Frontman Guille Milkyway’s dance floor fixation can be mapped from the band’s Myspace-era deep cut turned breakout smash “La Revolución Sexual” through their blockbuster 2019 comeback record La Gran Esfera to their current status as a music festival staple. And the next time you hear Camilo Sesto’s classic “Vivir Así es Morir de Amor” at the club, note that you’re more than likely listening to La Casa Azul’s phenomenal disco remix.