Last time around, Shakira touched upon so many styles she couldn’t be contained on one album, splitting Oral Fixation in two. This time, she focuses on one sound only: a pulsating electro-disco that crosses all boundaries and welcomes all nationalities. Such concentration behooves Shakira, freeing her to release her inner She Wolf, a wild wacko who’s as cuckoo as she is carnal.
”I’m starting to feel just a little abused, like a coffee machine in an office,” Shakira warbles on the title song from her third English-language album. It’s an image so bizarre you’d laugh if you stopped to think about it — which you won’t, because you’ll be too busy dancing to the scratchy funk guitars, elastic bass line, and steady house pulse behind those words. Similarly mesmerizing sounds abound on the rest of She Wolf, as the Colombian star dives headfirst into the omnivorous disco style she’s often flirted with in the past.
Shakira is music's fourth-richest woman, after Madonna, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand. They'll never trump a lyric like 2002 breakthrough single Whenever, Wherever's "Lucky that my breasts are small and humble/So you don't confuse them with mountains", though. Sure, a combination of Latin licentiousness and English self-taught via Bob Dylan lyrics and a thesaurus means you're never quite sure the Colombian singer knows what she's saying, but third English language album She Wolf certainly supports September's announcement concerning her eight-year engagement to Antonio de la Rúa, the son of a former Argentinian president: "Yah! We're so ready to reproduce!" The title track's video sees her exploring a pink fleshy cave, then humping a cage floor.
She looks like a diva and has the sales to match, but Shakira is too eccentric to be lumped in with the Whitneys and Mariahs. On this album, produced by Pharrell Williams, she is odder than ever. The electro title track may sound similar to half the other dance-pop singles in this week's chart, but nobody else is singing lines such as "I'm starting to feel just a little abused, like a coffee machine in an office", or howling at the end of the verses.
Shakira has always been a bit of an unconventional pop star, largely because her paths to success have been about as unconventional as they get. It all started when Shakira Ripoll was a kid growing up in Colombia, a love of poetry and performing eventually leading her to audition to become a fashion model—where instead she got signed as a Sony recording artist and then had her first album released when she was only 13 years old. By the time she was 17, she was finishing high school and starring in a soap opera (El Oasis) after refusing to promote her second album, whose production she thought was tampered with without her consent.
RIHANNA“Rated R”(Def Jam) Rihanna glares from the cover of “Rated R,” concealing one eye with a hand. “Rated R,” her fourth album, arrives nine months after Chris Brown, her boyfriend at the time, blackened her eye in a beating as they were driving back from a pre-Grammy party. The ….