One of the gutting things about working in magazines right now is probably trying to anticipate what projects are actually going to come out, and who will own the next moment when there are so many fewer ways to do that. Maluma was a smart and solid choice. Even if his movie with J.Lo — Marry Me, also starring Owen Wilson — doesn’t come out as planned, he’s performed and released music with her and had a hit song with Madonna in 2019, in addition to his own work. Late in 2020, he remixed one of his songs with bilingual lyrics from The Weeknd, which makes me wonder whether he’ll get a Super Bowl moment this year (The Weeknd is slated for halftime).

All of which is to say: J.Lo is an obvious evergreen cover subject — and she got one, too, and we’ll cover that next today — but Maluma is both a creative pick for Elle and a comfortable reach. He’s got Stuff Going On even if that one project gets pushed, and yet as a person he’s still an unknown quantity to a lot of us. The story is a wide-ranging read — this is only one of many chunks that were highlighted by Elle:

“I feel like the artists right now, the modern artists, are losing their spirituality, and that’s kind of sad,” he says. “I don’t feel like they pray or meditate, and that’s why I feel connected with artists like Madonna, Shakira, and Jennifer. Sometimes people tell me that I’m an old soul because of that, but at the end of the day, you can be the biggest star in the world, but if you are not spiritual, you are empty inside.”

Knowing whether he might be emotionally aligned with a fellow artist is “an energy thing,” he adds. “With Ricky Martin, you just feel his aura is so blue, so clear. But then you go to a music session in Miami with these guys my age, and they’re talking about material things, and I’m like, ‘Okay, it’s nice to have a Lamborghini, it’s nice to have a big Rolex, it’s nice to have a huge house, but when are you going to have a big soul?’ ”

I may not agree with him that spirituality is a required element of life, but there is something very gentle about a 27-year old heartthrob worrying about the size of your soul.

[Photos: Micaiah Carter for Elle, styled by Alex White; the issue is on newsstands Feb. 2]
Tags: Elle, Maluma