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Shakira: 'Shakira.' Album Review

Rania Aniftos |
March 25, 2014 | 4:26 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Shakira's album cover is just as breathtaking as she is. (Photo via @shakira, Twitter)
Shakira's album cover is just as breathtaking as she is. (Photo via @shakira, Twitter)
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Shakira? "Hips Don't Lie," duh (along with a swiveling of her body so enviable that we can only dream of moving like that).

Needless to say, Shakira has come a long way since her "Hips Don't Lie" days back in 2001, with her constant booty-shaking hits that one can't help but dance to. On her self-titled tenth album, "Shakira.," which has already debuted as #1 in 60 countries, Shakira experiments with various styles of music and shows a more mature side to her, keeping in mind that she is older and now has a family.

Although this new album is slower and more emotional, the songs still allow for the portrayal of a vocal ability and sensuality that is undeniably Shakira. 

The album opens with "Dare (La La La)," which has recently been revealed to be the theme of the 2014 World Cup, and rightfully so. The song combines a catchy dance beat as well as playful, alluring lyrics that seem to transport the listener to a wild party on the beaches of Brazil. This fun tune is sure to be a summer hit when the World Cup begins, playing on repeat both on the radio and in all the European clubs.

"Dare (La La La)" then transitions into "Can't Remember to Forget You," a duet with pop singer Rihanna released in mid-January. The song has a mix of subtle reggae notes as well as some rock elements, which culminate in a sultry, yet upbeat, track describing a guy that the two singers just can't let go of. The music video is just as seductive as the song, accurately depicting the alluring vibe that the entire album encompasses.

In her track commentary, Shakira described the next song, "Empire," as "very grand and epic, and at the same time intimate." The track includes piano and profound echoes in Shakira's voice, and there is an interesting contrast between soft notes and big, bold ones. This eccentric mix results in a cosmic sound, appropriately accompanied by celestial lyrics, such as "And the stars make love to the universe/You're my wildfire every single night/We are alive."

"You Don't Care About Me" has an alternative sound, paired with angst-y lyrics about a toxic and unreciprocated love. The track has a steady and consistent beat, which comes across as somewhat boring in comparison to the rest of the album. It should not be neglected, though, for it portrays Shakira's multifaceted abilities and musical curiosity. 

Along the same lines of experimenting with new genres, "Cut Me Deep," which features Canadian reggae-pop band Magic!, begins with a strong reggae style and eventually incorporates some rock with guitar instrumentals that are reminiscent of "Loca" from her 2010 album, "Sale el Sol." Reggae works incredibly well with Shakira's rich, Latin voice and provides a fun, laid-back track with a catchy beat that the listener finds him or herself inevitably swaying side to side with.

The next few songs on the album are clearly personal and written about the important people in Shakira's life. "Spotlight," "Broken Record," and "23" are profound love songs about her partner, Gerard Pique. "23," which tells the story of the time she met Pique and her belief that he is her destiny, has sweet lyrics which are heightened by the light acoustic guitar and a drum beat that almost sounds like a pounding heart. The track even ends with a baby (presumably her son) cooing, which adds to the delight of the song.

Similarly, "Broken Record" describes her love for her partner and also includes acoustic guitar. The instrumentals become stronger at the chorus and the bridge, which makes the listener truly feel the passion Shakira has for Pique. "Spotlight," which is a heavier rock song, according to Shakira, explains "the exposure that [she] and [Pique] are constantly under" but that their love is so strong, it is unfazed by the constant attention. These three tracks are refreshing, for they provide an insight into Shakira's new life and her true love for her partner, feelings that many people will undoubtedly relate to.

"Medicine," written by some of the top country songwriters in Nashville, is yet another manifestation of Shakira's desire to experiment, for she mentioned to Ryan Seacrest on his radio show that she recorded it eight times before coming to the conclusion that it must be a country song. The track is a duet with hit country singer Blake Shelton, whose rustic voice adds to the country vibe. Although it is natural to believe that Shakira's strong voice will clash with Shelton's, the track actually works quite nicely and allows for a smooth country-rock song.

"The One Thing" is a stand-out on the record, for it is another personal track, which has an upbeat, pop-rock sound that reminds the listener of Shakira's previous work (think "Whenever, Wherever" off her 2001 album, "Laundry Service"). The song was written about her son, Milan, which the lyrics describe is the one perfect thing in her world.

The last two songs are in Spanish, which is a must to include on a Shakira album. "Nunca Me Acuerdo de Olvidarte" is the Spanish version of "Can't Remember to Forget You," and allows Shakira to sing the lyrics more passionately in her native language and seemingly make the entire song sound richer. "Loca por Ti" is a love ballad, which sounds similar to her 2009 hit, "Gypsy." Even non-Spanish speakers can feel the sensuality and emotion in her voice and the track is a perfect ending to an overall romantic record.

In general, Shakira's new album proves her musical versatility and fearlessness. Although she makes a few nods to her previous albums, she is more mature and the record is overall unlike anything she has done before, giving fans everywhere an insight into Shakira's mind and life while still providing songs that will be stuck in their heads for days.

Read more of NT's album reviews here.

Reach Staff Reporter Rania Aniftos here.



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