How many contemporary artists are worldwide pop sensations who maintain their creative integrity even under the scrutiny of the harshest critics? One.
A 5’2” Colombian woman with frizzy blonde hair known simply as Shakira. Initially known as the “Alanis Morissette of Latin America,” Shakira Mebarak has, over the span of a 13 year international career, proven herself as an artist who can evoke almost any emotion while blending genres.
Shakira won over Latin America when she was seventeen with her major-label debut, Pies Descalzos, and was part of the “Latin explosion” of the early 2000s in the United States with her first English language venture, Laundry Service.
The singer-songwriter’s musical stylings have changed tremendously as her catalogue has grown. Her previous album, Fijacion Oral /Oral Fixation was released in two volumes, each in a different language.
But being bilingual was not the album’s only feat: Songs in both volumes jumped and mixed genres. It included styles as dissimilar as electronic pop and bossa nova while containing tracks with Shakira’s familiar alternative rock backing.
And, incredibly, it worked. The album is a solid work of art. There are songs that make you want to hold a loved one closely, some that make you want to cry and others that will make you leap out of your chair and dance.
In 2006, with the help of Haitian artist Wyclef Jean, she took the world by storm with a #1 English-language single called “Hips Don’t Lie”. The track is a genre-bending Latin dance song with influences from cumbias to reggaeton. It went two times platinum and became the decade’s most successful single to date. Nearly two and a half years have passed since the release of the single and her worldwide “Oral Fixation” tour, but Shakira wont be staying away for long.
Since Shakira always manages to keep her sound varied while being very comfortable in her musical skin, it is no surprise that her upcoming single sounds nothing like what she’s done before. She has released a new song for radio airplay from her upcoming, still untitled English language album - in Spanish.
The cut is called “Loba” or “She Wolf” and, with 120 beats per minute, it will be an absolute smash. Even though it is an electronic dance track, the song sounds like nothing on the mainstream charts; typical Shakira.
And “typical” Shakira is, by definition, entirely atypical. That’s what makes her accessible to different listeners - whether you like bubblegum pop, smooth folk music, hip-hop or classic rock there is room in Shakira’s catalogue for you.
Though the English version of “She Wolf” has not been released yet, the Spanish version - “Loba” - shows us exactly what is to come. When I pressed play on the track I thought I had started playing a funky indie electronic song, reminiscent of indie electronica favorites, Justice. But then Shakira’s instantly recognizable voice filled my speakers, spewing lyrical gems at a million miles per hour. Similar smart, rapid-fire lines were a staple of Shakira that lead her to win two Grammy awards for her 1998 alternative folk-rock album, Donde Estan Los Ladrones?
She hadn’t performed her trademark tongue-twisting verses very much in the Oral Fixation series, so it was a welcome addition to this track. It grounds “She Wolf” for longtime fans of the songstress while, as always, creating a sound that is superbly unique.
The song chronicles the voracious appetite of a wolf that lurks within woman. The appetite is both the animal desire for men and a dreamer’s desire for adventure; she doesn’t want a boring man - she wants to domesticate a wolf of her own. The chorus warns man against the she-wolf he has caged in his armoire: “Let her eat the neighborhood before you go to sleep.”
The track culminates in a break from the electronica to an army of strings echoing the melody of the chorus. It is not initially the catchiest track in the world, but incredibly bold. The track hits the recent prominence of electronica based pop music at its stride, while giving other artists a run for their money: this isn’t a candy pop track like Lady Gaga’s electronica - it is a funk infused female empowerment gem.
“She Wolf” is slated for airplay and digital release July 14 and her album will be released sometime in October.
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