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Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira emerged as a musical prodigy in the Latin American music scene in the early 1990s, releasing the first Shakira album “Magia” when she was only 13 years old. She has gone on to become one of the most famous women, not just in the Spanish speaking world, but in the whole wide world. Born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, Shakira revealed many of her talents in school as a live performer, demonstrating her distinct vocal ability with rock and roll, Latin and Middle Eastern influences and her own original twist on belly dancing. She is also an excellent guitarist, harmonica player, drummer and percussionist. Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” was chosen as the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The song received generally positive critical reception and became a worldwide smash hit and the biggest selling World Cup song of all time.

Native Spanish speaker Shakira also speaks fluent English, Portuguese and Italian and occasionally sings in classical Arabic. She found her stride in 1995 with the release of “Pies Descalzos”, which brought her fame in Latin America and Spain and the 1998 Shakira album “¿Dónde Están los Ladrones?” was a critical success. In 2001, aided by heavy rotation of the music video “Whenever, Wherever”, she broke through into the English-speaking world with the release of the Shakira album “Laundry Service”, which sold over 13 million copies worldwide. Four years later were released two Shakira albums called “Fijación Oral Vol. 1” and “Oral Fixation Vol. 2″ that caught a lot of people by surprise. When I first heard the single “La tortura” from “Fijación Oral Vol. 1” I must confess to not being very happy. I was a die-hard fan of the early material and “La Tortura” suddenly introduced a dance beat and thumping bassline, with Shakira, at first glance, more interested in her hip thrusts on the video than her singing. It took me a little while to assimilate, but of course I eventually realised that La Tortura was one of, if not the, best single of Shakira’s career.

Like most amazing albums “Fijación Oral Vol. 1” takes a bit of time to get into, but once you are there you never want to turn it off. Singles “La Tortura” and “Las de la Intuición” are aimed squarely at the dancefloor and are undoubtably fantastic fun, but much of the rest of the album is slow, heartfelt and emotional. Particular slow favourites of mine are “Día Especial” and “La Pared”. “Oral Fixation Vol. 2″ continued the momentum, this time with the singing in English. I don’t love this Shakira album as much as “Vol. 1”, but it does still contain some fine tracks. The most important of these is “Hips don’t lie”, featuring Wyclef Jean, which proved unbelieveably popular and a massive hit all over the world reaching number one in the charts in at least 55 countries. “Hips Don’t Lie” is a Latin salsa pop song based on Haitian Jean’s 2004 song “Dance Like This”.

From “Hips Don’t Lie” onwards Shakira really started to experiment with her music, pushing the boundaries with each new single. It could be fair to say that her style became generally more “dancy” and “clubby” and this lead some of her old school fans to criticise her of “selling out”. I personally have come to appreciate Shakira’s experimentation. There are bound to be some “misses” along the way, but surely a true artist should be constantly trying new things and never afraid to make a mistake. The 2009 Shakira album “She Wolf” was a lot of fun and contains an impressive variety of styles. The title track “She Wolf” is the obvious stand out song and the one that fulfilled every man’s fantasy with its video featuring Shakira writhing about in a cage wearing a skin tight, skin toned, cat/wolf suit. “She Wolf” was quickly followed in 2010, by the equally flamboyant and refreshing “Sale el sol”, with its popular singles “Loca” and “Rabiosa”. Critics have denounced Shakira for over-sexualising and dumbing down her music, and she has probably quite a few of her original fans along the course of her career, but I have to say that I am not one of them and I see each new album as a further affirmation of Shakira’s genius.

Watch some Shakira vdeos with lyrics:

La Loba
Estoy aquí
La Tortura
Waka Waka (Esto es África)

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