Shakira

I know that for a while now, many of you have been asking–well, “shamelessly begging” is probably a more appropriate word choice–for me to do a blog post about Shakira. So, here you go.
After living in Costa Rica for almost 5 years, I should probably understand Shakira’s Spanish lyrics better, but I don’t. My only consolation is that I can’t understand her English lyrics very well, either. I’m wondering, though, why she makes English and Spanish versions of much of her material (yes, I know the answer is “more market, more money,” but artistically, I don’t really get the point).
I remember 11 or 12 years ago, when I was an exchange student in Germany, we saw the video for her song “Wherever, Whenever”:
I’ve got a couple of things to say about this video:
1. Sure, she’s very pretty, but I guess I’m one of those guys who’s just not turned on by those weird gyrations. To paraphrase Seinfeld, it’s like a full-body dry heave.
2. “Lucky that my breasts are small and humble / So you don’t confuse them with mountains” may be some of the stupidest lyrics ever sung in English, and I’m including songs by Raffi here.
3. No one likes the pan flute.
Still, after seeing this video, I believe I had a conversation with my friend Christa, who assured me that both Shakira and Ricky Martin were much more sophisticated and “deeper” in Spanish, but something had gotten lost in the translation. I had to listen to them in Spanish, I was told.
And I think she was right; Shakira is better in Spanish, especially if you don’t understand Spanish. Maybe it’s something about her beats or rhythms that loan themselves to being accompanied by Spanish lyrics, but it just seems better. Check out these two recent examples, “Loba”/”She Wolf” and “Rabiosa.” First, the Spanish version of “Loba”:
And now the English version:
Do you see what I mean? In the first one, you’re somewhat distracted by a pretty girl, and you quietly wonder to yourself if she’ll accidentally snap her spine dancing like that. But in the English version, you can understand the lyrics, and you just think, “Hmm, this song is kind of stupid.”
Let’s look at Exhibit B, “Rabiosa”:
And here it is in English:

So, yes, exact same video. The weirdest thing about this song is the lyrics; they’ve translated “Rabiosa” as “Rabiosa,” “boca” as “boca,” and “Oye mami” as “Oye mami.” Maybe someone’s taken the hint that her songs are better in Spanish, and so the English versions are just gradually becoming Spanish versions, one word at a time.
In any case, here’s my favorite Shakira song and video, which as far as I know, is only in Spanish:

So, there’s your Shakira post. Now shut your bocas.

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Sitzman

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