Shakira writes the oddest lyrics. Her left-field sensibility is refreshing given her sexpot persona — you’d expect the lyrical complexity of a Britney Spears song from a woman whose stomach is the featured performer in every one of her videos.
Shakira is relatively new to the English language, and I’m guessing that’s the source of some of her weirder turns of phrase.
Shakira’s next, and most recent, album was 2009’s English-language She Wolf. She threw her international listeners a bone by putting out a Spanish version of the lead single (titled ‘Loba’) a month before the album’s release.
She Wolf was a departure for Shakira in that it was more tightly focused than anything she’d released before. In part that’s because the album clocks in at around 30 minutes (not counting some bonus live tracks and alternate versions) and therefore doesn’t leave much room for rampant experimentation.
But mostly Shakira was going for a dance club vibe on these tracks, utilizing every studio trick at her disposal to deliver a slick modern sound heavy on beats and bass.
Best Songs of 2009 – #3
Shakira is like the villain in a horror movie. Whenever you think she’s down for the count — thanks to some absurdity like, say, the video for ‘She Wolf’ — she emerges stronger than ever. That was the case with She Wolf the album, which I’d come to sort of dread after the acrobatic unitard silliness of that first video. Why was this woman squandering her talent?
But she wasn’t, not at all. She just has very bizarre ideas about how she should express it. She Wolf (the album) turned out to be fantastic, full of thick beats, infectious melodies and the sort of continent-hopping musical experimentation for which Shakira is known. I’ll never doubt her again.
Of all the artists I listen to regularly, Shakira is perhaps the biggest test of my recent conclusion that it’s music — not lyrics — that means the most to me.
For one thing, Shakira’s best work has been recorded entirely in Spanish, so I have very little idea what she’s saying at all (and I don’t care). And second, her English-language songs alternate between generic love proclamations/condemnations and some of the most oddball, head-scratching lyrics you’re likely to find in a contemporary pop song. This is a woman who once titled a song ‘Poem to a Horse.’