I’ve never been into instrumental music, apart from the occasional jazz or classical album that slips through the cracks. I hate jam bands. I like verses, choruses and bridges. I like words in my music.
So I never found room for foreign language artists in my collection. I’ve enjoyed a Puccini aria or two, sure, but no international pop or rock stars. I just didn’t see myself getting into songs performed in another language.
And then I found Shakira.
I feel protective of Shakira, the way you might feel about a neighborhood girl who wears suggestive clothing to get the attention of boys who aren’t worthy of her. She has been marketed to death, greased up and flopped on stage to belly-dance her way to pop stardom.
Maybe it’s all her doing. Maybe she’s pulling all the strings, laughing at the knuckle draggers who’ve been tricked by a pretty body into buying her CDs. But I still hate it.
Because Shakira is exceptionally talented, as both a songwriter and performer. So talented she demolished my prejudice against foreign language songs and I now own 3 1/2 whole albums sung in nothing but Español.
Shakira is sort of like Penelope Cruz in that she does her best work in her native tongue. Her English songs are good but there’s a certain something missing from her vocals. I guess it makes sense… it’s hard enough speaking another language, let alone singing or acting emotionally in one. She also has an unfair advantage, I suppose, in that her Spanish-language lyrics could be total crap and I’d be none the wiser. Most of the time I have no idea what she’s singing about (although my Cuban wife tells me it’s usually a boy).
This song, ‘Moscas en la Casa,’ from her best album, Donde Estan Los Ladrones?, is about flies. I think. Anyway, it’s great and she’s great.