Shakira. You’ve no doubt heard of this Latin sensation by now, unless you’re living in a cave. And if you have Internet access, I’m still unsure as to why you haven’t heard of her. I’ve liked Shakira’s songs ever since her debut English album “Laundry Service.” I listened to her singles occasionally and was always very impressed that she wrote her own lyrics even though English isn’t her first language. In a day and age where we can’t get anyone to write their own lyrics (Madonna and Britney Spears come to mind), it’s refreshing to see someone who is creative, has an extensive vocabulary in the English language, and who has a very new way of singing, putting her talent where it belongs: in the mainstream.
This is the first Shakira album I’ve ever bought, and I loved it. Here’s a track-by-track album review:
1. How Do You Do — This song is absolutely fantastic. It begins with a mock Greek choir singing the Lord’s Prayer, a church bell, and quite the interlude. The song begins with Shakira asking God what language he speaks, a series of questions that I’ve often wondered myself, and some I never even thought to ask. She also asks him if ever cries (with quite a catchy sped-up chorus telling him that she sometimes cries). She also asks if he feels pride, or shame, when people kill and hurt in his name. It’s an extremely powerful song, and I can’t think of a single pop song that was more meaningful than this.
2. Don’t Bother — This song is also very interesting. Shakira is (presumably) talking about a woman her previous boyfriend moved onto. This song mainly talks about how much better the girl mentioned before is “far better” than Shakira herself. Shakira sounds very bitter in this song. She’s either a very good storyteller or the guy she’s talking about was an idiot. Sorry, but I could never dump Shakira.
3. Illegal In “Illegal” — This is a song with the very talented Carlos Santana playing guitar. It is a slow ballad with Shakira talking to an ex-boyfriend. I didn’t really care for this song, but it’s pretty different (something you can always count on from Shakira).
4. The Day and Time — This one’s another love ballad from Shakira. I’m a little biased with love songs. They’re just not for me, especially the sad ones that make you think. It’s a good chorus, good songwriting (as usual), and good singing. Not my favorite, though.
5. Animal City — This is quite a song! It’s the most creatively composed song on the album and probably one of the most creative songs out this year. She tells her audience how it feels to be a celebrity, that people want to grab your money, and how to survive the apparently stressed life of being a celebrity (and trust me, I know from expierience — it’s no picnic!). One of the most humorous lines of this song, you ask me? By far, “And once you have become a star, you’ve got no right to bitch.” If only certain celebrities could keep this in mind. I won’t name names. (Britney Spears, Jennifer Aniston, Paris Hilton…)
6. Dreams For Plans — I did not like this track at all. It’s total filler. Just skip this track, I ask of you.
7. Hey You — One thing you can always count on Shakira for is a creative ballad. In this one, Shakira is talking to a man she wants to be with. Her not-usually-seen arrogance is seen here, and I gotta admit, I love it! The chorus consists of Shakira telling whoever she’s talking with to stop playing adamant and not to be so arrogant. She says no one would ever refuse her offer (some of which includes her being his maid), and I have to confess, I wouldn’t refuse myself.
8. Your Embrace — De-press-ing. That’s all I can say about this. Slow and, I must reiterate, depressing. She’s talking to some man who she’s lonely without. I didn’t like this one.
4/10 for good songwriting.
9. Costume Makes the Clown — This song was pretty damn good. She’s addressing a man she cheated on. The beginning starts out with confessions. The first one tells us that she’s not really comfortable with her breasts (a reference to her hit single “Whenever, Wherever” from her first English album Laundry Service). She tells us she wants to take her makeup off and show whom she really is. She tells the man she’s addressing that it’s his turn to cheat on her. I have to say, Shakira may be morbid, but she’s very, very interesting.
10. Something — A pretty interesting song. Shakira is addressing her boyfriend (as usual) and tells him everything she loves about him, including the shape of his lips, the size of his nose, and even the smell of his breath. Judging from the chorus, she can’t resist him.
11. Timor — This is, by far, my second favorite on the album. With an 80’s new wave beat and a child chorus singing “Timor” in the beginning, I knew this was going to be different from the start. “Timor” is a protest song referring to the independence of the country East Timor, how it was huge news a couple of years ago when it happened, but now that they’re in poverty and in less-than-pleasing conditions, everyone has forgotten about them. It’s more than that, though. Shakira brings to light a lot of things that are wrong with the world’s society. This song is extremely sarcastic and I love it. She begins by saying that the system never fails, that “The good guys are in power, and the bad guys are in jail,” and that everything’s all right so long as everyone can vote because we live in democracy and “That’s what we promote.” She asks why no one cares that the news says “half the truth” and tells us that hearing what we want is the secret of eternal youth. She says we don’t care if the planet splits in three, since she’ll keep selling records and we’ve all got our MTV. I think that’s a very powerful message that we need to get out to teenagers and Shakira’s peers. This song was absolutely great. I would’ve paid twenty bucks for this song alone, but I only had to pay 14!
Overall, this album is great. There are a few unnecessary filler songs and too many love songs for my own personal taste, but the good outweighs the bad. Shakira is a very talented woman. She writes her own lyrics, she can dance, she has an IQ of a genius (140 if you want to be picky about it), she plays guitar, and she’s gorgeous! Who could ask for more? Not I.
By all means, pick this album up! If all you’ve heard from her so far is “Don’t Bother” and “Hips Don’t Lie” (a bonus track on this album) and liked it, then you have no idea what you’ve been missing out on. Pick it up. Today!
Total Album Score: 8/10