Shakira means “thankful” in Arabic, and as history has proven, she has a lot to be thankful for and proud of in her short life. She’s a Columbian singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, philanthropist and a prodigy. She is a native Spanish speaker who can also converse in fluent English, Portuguese and Italian. She has an IQ score of 140, which many scholars consider borderline genius. She’s not only started her own charity foundation that creates special schools for poor children around the world, but she also serves as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has been honored by the United Nations for her work. She has won two Grammy Awards and seven Latin Grammy Awards. She is the highest-selling Columbian artist of all time. S he is also the only recording artist from South America to reach the number-one spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, Canadian Hot 100, the Australian ARIA chart and the UK Singles Chart. She has one of the most successful songs of the 21st century to date under her belt. Forbes has ranked her as the fourth top-earning female artist in the music industry. She will also soon be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And most importantly, to quote the words of the great prophet Paul Stanley, “she’s hot, hot, hotter than hell.” But seriously, her accomplishments aren’t bad for someone that’s barely over the age of thirty and was once told she sings like a goat from a second grade school teacher.
Growing up, Shakira heavily preferred rock and roll music as her main listening preference. With such musical influences as Nirvana, Metallica, The Beatles, U2, AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ramones and many more it’s no mystery as to why her music has appealed to me throughout the years. We share a number of similar interests, Shakira and I. Although, I think she has meet beat in the dancing category. That’s OK. I will gladly stand on the sidelines, any day, and exasperately watch her move her hips ever so hypnotically.
One topic of discussion or debate, however you may see it, that I would like to conjure up is that of Shakira’s sexual charisma. Forget Britney Spears, forget Beyonce and forget Madonna. Shakira has always had that sexual edge over her competition no matter how innocent she comes across. Her natural beauty, gyrating dance moves and sexual promiscuity that translate into her performances have always been just an added bonus to me, being a fan of her music first and foremost (a thousand fingers are pointing to me yelling “BS!”). However, there’s little room for debate. With the gestation of the She Wolf album we come to find Shakira’s reliance on her sexuality formulating very heavily into her newest bodies of art. I apologize if my statements of formal logic seem a little cryptic. Don’t worry! You are about to be schooled on everything She Wolf. This is one class you can’t fail.
As you can clearly see from the many Shakira posts that recently graced the pages of Why So Blu, I tend to take the release of my favorite artist’s albums pretty seriously. My expectations are usually at an all time high as I suggestively treat the new release Tuesday’s like they are part of an important holiday tradition. Such is the case with Shakira’s She Wolf. It’s been a long time since I last had new Shakira music and I have grown quite hungry. I was galvanized to learn that I would be getting my hands on the new album a week early before its November 23rd U.S. release date. I decided to do something I have never done before. I wanted to try something bold. I committed to write a music review. So here goes nothing. I have opted to include some rather amiable images, in my personal opinion, of various Shakira She Wolf photo shoots to break up the monotony of text. I hope you don’t mind. Let me know your thoughts below in regards to my critique of the album. I would love to hear if I got the content right or if I am dead wrong. Thanks for reading!
1. She Wolf
First of all, have you all seen the video for the title track “She Wolf?” If not, then drop everything you are doing and watch here right now! All right, now that we have all seen the video we can carry on. Did all the guys have to take a quick cold shower after that one? Admittedly, some of her dance moves may seem a bit strange and borderline ridiculous, but there’s no denying that “She Wolf” is one hot music video. It doesn’t get much better than this! So yeah…the song…umm…let’s move on.
When I first heard the song several months ago I felt a tad disappointed in Shakira as I did not think that it was that great of a song despite the steamy eye-popping video that can accompany the music if you so choose. However, after a month of repeat listens it really cultivated in the area of my brain that controls my musical likes and it eventually became an infectious groove that I could not shake. That’s when I know I like a song, obviously. The song has raw hidden power and if you tap into it the possibilities are endless. Take that opening bass line, the subsequent dance floor pulse and then add that subtle yet funky guitar riff and before you know it you have the dance floor erupting in a wild frenzy. It’s a darn shame that “She Wolf” did not catch on that big in the U.S. I am not a big fan of dance music, but I can appreciate the good stuff when it comes around and with lyrics like “I’m starting to feel just a little abused, like a coffee machine in an office,” how can you ever spurn the lyrical powers of Shakira?
2. Did It Again (featuring Kid Cudi)
There’s a little history behind the song “Did It Again.” The song was supposed to be Shakira’s second single off the She Wolf album, but instead it was only billed as so outside the United States. Inside sources claim that Shakira’s management was expecting greater success and acceptance of the first single “She Wolf” so they decided to delay the initial retail date of the U.S. album from October 20th to November 23rd in hopes that they could record a trendier track they and attach it to the last minute pressing of the CD. Thus, the Timbaland produced track “Give It Up To Me” (track #13 below) was conceived.
“Did It Again,” officially the second single off of She Wolf outside the U.S. is a seductive sexually charged track. The video is definitely a romp on the wild side within the bedroom, for lack of better terms. You can check it out here if you have not seen it yet. Don’t ask me what’s with the female bathhouse scene. I’m not sure myself and I don’t have the answer to that one. What I am confused about is the fact that this edition of “Did It Again” features a hip hop artist named Kid Cudi (I have never previously heard of him before), while the rest of the world and fans who purchase the Deluxe version of the CD gets the above track without Kid Cudi, as does the music video too. I’m not quite sure how to explain why that is. Anyway, the song’s theme conveys Shakira’s usual pattern of picking the wrong guy and mistakenly finding false love. Isn’t that the story of life anyway? Just kidding! Shakira expresses her sexual fascinations with the man in reference here and how she wishes she can’t take back all her mistakes. I must admit that much like “She Wolf,” this song also grew on me since I originally seen the debut performance of it last month on Saturday Night Live. I really like the groove developed here as well as the sexual moans Shakira brilliantly interjects into the repeated chorus response lines. My favorite line of the song actually comes from Kid Cudi as he raps that “all day and everyday I dream of only you…and those hips.” I mean really, who can deny those hips.
3. Long Time
“I wish I had longer legs that I can fasten to your body so you can take me everywhere.” When a song contains lyrics like, especially from Shakira, I find myself momentarily taken aback and essentially speechless. I know. Imagine that. Me speechless? “Long Time” is a quick, but sexually charged anthem where Shakira languishes over how she cannot wait to be back in the arms of her lover. However, that does not stop her from dropping quirky verses such as “I’m so happy I should get sued.” That kind of comes out of nowhere at you, Shakira style.
The song has quite the odd, slow and transient beat to it. It’s really hard to describe. If I had to categorize it I would say it would fit right at home on Paula Abdul’s third studio album, Head Over Heels.
4. Why Wait
The first time I heard the introduction to this song I instantly thought of it as a Britney Spears track. Thank God my opinion changed significantly after repeat listens, as I actually like this track. It has a catchy chorus line and Arabic undertones that perfectly compliment Shakira’s infectious Latin style. The sexual promiscuous theme of this song doesn’t sound like the good girl I know, but it’s undeniably Shakira. When you hear Shakira sing “nothing in the world you could think of that I won’t do to you” your mind instantly goes places it probably should not, if you get my drift. My favorite line of the song is “why wait for later…I’m not a waiter.” That’s the goofiness you come to love and expect from a Shakira track. It’s good to know she still has her sense of humor.
5. Good Stuff
I got excited when this track first played, as I heard the gong intro, and I was immediately transported back to fond memories of “Ojos Asi.” However, that moment of nostalgia was short lived. The song is one sexual moan after another. I’m not complaining. In fact I am jealous. I wish I was smart enough to craft interludes full of moans. That’s why Shakira has a brilliant IQ and I do not.
The song has a very synthesized slight Middle Eastern sound with a hint of Mexican and a dash of Mediterranean. The xylophone Caribbean choruses are beautifully formulated and the ever changing tempo structure keeps you hanging on wanting more. Three minutes goes by very fast, but at least we will always know “the grass is much greener with us on it.”
6. Men In This Town
This is probably my favorite song off the new album, taken into consideration that it has accumulated a massive 70+ plays on my Sony Walkman thus far since Monday. Not only does she mention Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie’s name in the song, but it also has an infectious No Doubt/Gwen Stefani vibe to it. I like it for the raw energy Shakira expels here as she allows her vocals to cross new boundaries, dynamics and styles I never heard her reach before. This track is fresh and youthful! It feels like a new product that has potential to be a big hit, if not here, then perhaps in Europe. I can envision this one infectiously taking over the discotheque dance floors over seas.
The song sees Shakira exploring her move to California and the repeatedly failed attempts to find her prince charming that perfectly compliments her small town girl image. Exhibiting great patience, she never gives up hope that she will find him one day. You go girl! My favorite line from this one is when she refers to her move to California Shakira sings “I never believed I’d come here to be the next Jolie.”
Almost every album has to have a rotten apple or two, doesn’t it? Well if I had to consider any track here as a runt of the litter it would be “Gypsy.” It’s not that it is a bad song by any means, but it just does not appeal to my taste buds, much like a sour apple. That’s OK though. Shakira is allowed to have a few diamonds in the rough. She had one on her last album and I quickly forgave her for it and the same forgiving principle applies here. I mean after all, I’m generally a nice guy.
“Gypsy” starts out with a subtle acoustic guitar introduction that quickly sets the stage for a folk-like outing. Make no mistakes here folks. This is not a dance track by any stretch. This is Shakira at her most serious. The song title implies exactly what you would expect to find here with chorus lyrics such as “I’m a gypsy. I might steal your clothes and wear them if they fit me.” My personal favorite is the line where she says “only run with scissors when you want to get hurt.” How poetic is that? After many listens I am bold enough to confidently label this as her flirtation with the Alanis Morrisette genre of sound. Wait! Is that a banjo I hear? Why yes it is. It’s a very eccentric track to say the least. I found myself skipping over track #7 throughout the week.
8. Spy (featuring Wyclef Jean)
Following in the footprints of Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie,” she invites Wyclef Jean back for another collaborative effort. While it’s not going to knock any doors down, one can hardly call their latest joint venture a weak effort, quite the opposite. It’s a tempting tale of flirtation and seduction masterfully mixed to an infectious jazzy-disco tempo.
Shakira hits all-time highs with her dynamic falsetto vocal range as she proclaims “there’s a spy in the window…” The Bee Gees would be very proud. We are definitely seeing the many facets of Shakira on this record. The 32-year old has really matured. Shakira lets her listening audience in on the fact that she knows she has a secret admirer as she lustfully interacts and plays along through mind games and verbal transactions of seduction with Wyclef, who sounds ecstatic to be along for the ride. And why shouldn’t he?
9. Mon Amour
I would rank “Mon Amour” as my second favorite song off the album. It’s a tale of revenge between two lovers. Who doesn’t love a good case of revenge? We find Shakira at her lowest, suffering from having her heart broken by her cheating boyfriend and we see how Shakira still obsesses over him. If the lyrics “every night I pray that you don’t knock her up because I still want to be the mother of your child” doesn’t convey her overwhelming thoughts of regretful loss, then I don’t know what does. You can practically feel the jealousy and the torment that Shakira feels seeing her ex with a new girl. It’s evidently apparent that Shakira is not over him, but it’s also clear that Shakira has only one thing on her mind. She wants to see him suffer for the pain he has caused. And rightfully so! C’mon dude. It’s Shakira. You go girl!
The No Doubt-like track later features musical moments of distortion as Shakira professes in a trance like state that “passengers with destination to hell please proceed to your gate, we are ready to board now.” That’s a classic hate formula if I ever heard one. You gotta love the genuine sentiments of both anger and confusion, in which Shakira sprightly explores on this track.
This is the Spanish version of the title track “She Wolf.” It’s nothing you really have not heard before. I prefer the English version better, end of story, so let’s move on.
11. Lo Hecho Esta Hecho
This is the Spanish version of “Did It Again,” oddly without the inclusion of Kid Cudi. Now why can’t the English version of this be on the album? I can’t comprehend this decision. Can you help me out here Sony?
12. Anos Luz
This is the Spanish version of track # 4 “Why Wait.” Again, there’s nothing you have not heard before so let’s continue on to the last track of the Standard CD release.
13. Give It Up To Me
If you read about what I had to say in regards to track #2 “Did It Again,” then you already partially know the story behind this song. Actually, this really does not come as a surprise to me because after all, the hit song “Hips Don’t Lie” was introduced at the last minute to the American audiences in much the same way. But with that song, they actually made a second pressing of the Oral Fixation 2 CD and guess who now has two copies of that album. Yep, that’s me! Call it a gimmick. Call it what you want. Thankfully here, this is not the case as the U.S. album was actually delayed a month to make sure this song was included on it at the last minute. See, thee record companies do care about us (interject big smile). The theory and rationale behind this song is that they are banking on the hopes that this song will dominate the American billboards and make Shakira a household name in the States, something that she is definitely trying to capture and achieve with the release of She Wolf. Do I think it will work? Read on and find out you will.
Is this a Timbaland/Nelly Furtado track? It sure sounds like one. Anyway, “Give It Up To Me” is about achieving all your dreams by conveying the message that what you get out of life is what you give in life and you will never know what you can achieve if you don’t try. Isn’t that life’s golden lesson? The song grows on you with repeat listens (approximately 22 for me today), but I don’t think it has what it takes to be her breakthrough U.S. hit. However, what do I know? I once thought the same of “Hips Don’t Lie” and look how wrong I was about that. I first heard this song performed on David Letterman’s Late Show last week. I was unimpressed, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I mean, it’s Shakira after all! Shakira looks beautiful as usual, but she looked uncomfortable performing this track like you could almost tell she was forced into it. My favorite lyrics from this song actually come from guest star Lil’ Wayne when he raps “I’m the cashier…I change girls…you can go up my crane girl and I’m gonna go down that drain girl.” Hmm…I wonder what he means by that (a facetious smile overcomes my face)? After repeat listens the chorus does become quite catchy as I caught myself singing it several times around the house today. Heck, it must be a hit if I am singing it, right?
Highlights: “Did It Again,” “Men In This Town;” “Mon Amour”
Overall: Although we truly only have about 44 minutes worth of new material from Shakira, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend that time. One thing I have to give Shakira credit for is that like or not, Shakira is not cookie cutter artist churning out the same thing over and over. She strives to make each album dynamically different from the other so they stand on their own. As a result, Shakira touches upon just about every genre of music from Arabic to queen disco pop. She Wolf is no exception to that rule. The album features a mostly electronic synthesized beat mixed with world sounds that is sure to set the dance floor ablaze into the next decade. Fans of Shakira will be won over instantly by the diva’s newest effort, while newcomers may require a few spins to come around, but I promise that you will.
My only major complaint is the fact that this is her third U.S. release and she still continues to put duplicate songs in Spanish on the albums. Can’t those tracks have been saved and used on her Spanish release rumored to be coming out early next year? We could have then fit a few more English tunes on here. I’m not a musical connoisseur by any means, but it does not take a degree in rocket science to figure out that the key to successfully conquering the America pop world is to give the public what they want. In this case, that’s more Shakira! Nonetheless, the quick pace nature of the album’s brief runtime will leave you wanting more, but isn’t that always the case with Shakira? It’s a far cry from ever being considered a historic opus, but it’s still a dynamite effort from a favorite artist of mine. Grade : A -
FYI… Make sure to pick up the Amazon release of She Wolf. It seems to contain 3 extra tracks not found on the Standard U.S. release.
1. She Wolf
2. Did It Again
3. Long Time
4. Why Wait
5. Good Stuff
6. Men In This Town
8. Spy (featuring Wyclef Jean)
9. Mon Amour
11. Lo Hecho Esta Hecho
12. Anos Luz
13. Give It Up To Me (featuring Lil Wayne)
14. Did It Again (featuring Kid Cudi)
15. Gypsy (Live)
16. She Wolf (Live From T4)
Check out the fan site ShakiraIsabel.com for the latest Shakira videos, pictures, news and more!
Order your She Wolf CD and other Shakira goodies today with Amazon’s everyday lowest prices and know that 1% of your purchase will go directly to making a difference in the life of a child at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Just follow the links below!