‘Shakira’, a name that was synonymous with the pop genre of music. Anybody from the 90’s who shared any sort of affinity towards the said genre has certainly grooved to her songs, and had the time of their lives while doing so.
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‘The Queen of Latin Music’: A long journey from, ‘Whenever, Wherever’ to ‘Hips Don’t Lie’
Born as Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, journeyed all the way from her home town of Barranquila to the top of the charts, a feat that is significant on multiple levels. However, contrary to her current popularity, this journey was not at all an easy one, and rarely comes up in a conversation. We know about the legend but not the journey, therefore let’s dive in and see the moments that made Shakira ‘The Queen of Latin Music’.
Magia (1991), the failure:
Shakira made her debut at the age of 13 with a three-year contract with Sony Music Colombia, a promising start to a career. However, the first two albums of Shakira’s discography were commercial failures with sales estimated at between 1,000 and 1,200 copies. Magia, which was her very first album consisted of pop ballads that were inspired from her own life experiences with boys, and her dream about living a life at the coast. Still, the live performances of the album brought her recognition from the audience and even earned her an award at the Viña del Mar International Song Festival. Hence, putting Shakira on the map of the Latin music scene.
Pies Descalzos (1995), the breakthrough:
Following the commercial failures of her first two albums, Shakira went all in with this project. Spearheading the production along with Luis Fernando Ochoa, Shakira made some experimental choices with her sound. Shakira experimented with Latin Pop by infusing it with Pop rock which reflected well with the audience that was craving for newer sounds. The album went on to become a commercial as well as a critical hit, to some even considering this as the actual debit album of the artist. Its lead single “Estoy Aquí” peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Latin Songs. Furthermore, the album won ‘Diamond Prism’ in Colombia acknowledging 1 million copies sold in the country, and establishing that Shakira was one the best singers of her generation.
Whenever, Wherever (2001), Hips Don’t Lie (2006), a new frontier:
After earning her place in the Latin music scene, Shakira set her eyes on Hollywood. A single from her first official international album release ‘Laundry Service’, ‘Whenever, Wherever’ garnered worldwide attention for the Colombian singer. The song was written, composed, and produced by Shakira, with additional musical composition and production from Tim Mitchell, and additional lyrics written by Gloria Estefan in the English-language version. The song topped the billboard charts, ranking at number six. This was later surpassed by another song from the Shakira named, ‘Hips don’t lie’ which peaked at number one. These achievements made Shakira a household name.
Waka Waka (2010), the cultural phenomenon and controversy:
Late 2000’s was an interesting time; social media was still a toddler and people were just realizing the power of internet and how it connects people. It was also the year of FIFA world cup. All these individual events led to the release of ‘Waka Waka’, the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was held in South Africa. The song mostly received positive reviews and general praise. With the help of internet, the song quickly became an instant hit among football fanatics and Shakira’s fanbase. Yet, some people argued that FIFA could have gone with a native South African artist to make the FIFA anthem culturally more appropriate. Moreover, ‘Waka Waka’ was also compared with, ‘Wavin’Flag’ Coca-cola’s promotional song by Somali-Canadian artist K’naan. According to many, K’naan was able to capture the sound of Africa better, and that Shakira was still very much rooted in her Colombian heritage. Still, if you ask anybody, both of these songs were absolute bangers. This transitioned Shakira from just a Colombian or Hollywood singer to a cultural phenomenon whose influence can be felt to this day.
Shakira, came from humble beginnings and left a huge mark on the music landscape. With a total of 95 million records sold, she is hailed as one of the best Latin-female artists of all time. One of the prominent characteristics of her work is that she actively introduced newer sounds with her music, which helped her to grow her audience.
This also helped her to grow beyond the borders of language and culture. Forbes magazine have noted that Shakira’s influence “knows no boundaries”, whether in the fields of music or philanthropy, because Shakira was one of the first prominent artist who advocated for an inclusive educational model for children.
She believes that education is a birthright to every child and cannot be denied by any institution. The world is a dark place, and rarely we find people who, instead of adding to the darkness, tries bringing light and comfort to the world. Shakira is one such individual, who is lighting up the world with her music and philanthropic endeavors.