Shakira: When ambition sells you out

In celebrities, music, sexuality on September 9, 2010 at 8:56 am

There was a time when a 22 year old black-haired Colombian captured the hearts, soul and rhythm of Hispanics across the globe. Her music meant something and said something to anyone who had ever experienced feelings of heart-break, questioned life and went against the status quo.  You could feel her emotion with every lyric. That was 1996 and things have really changed since then.

I’m Colombian and while I can’t be anymore proud of the tremendous success and cross-over appeal Shakira has had over the past few years; I am even more proud at the exposure and good name she’s given all Colombians around the globe. And yet, I still have a love-hate relationship with her.

Let’s start with the love. She’s extremely talented as a singer songwriter, she can definitely move her hips like no other…she even taught Beyonce how to shake it. As a human being, her philanthropy is to be admired.  The park she created in Medellin, Colombia called “Parque de lo Pies Descalzos” (Barefoot Park) named after her first album, is a fabulous way of helping locals as well as tourists enjoy an oasis in the middle of the city; where you can simply kick off your shoes and relax! She was even a part of the ‘one goal’ program during this past World Cup with the Waka Waka song where she supported the cause to have education for all.

So, why would I even dare to have a love-hate relationship with an artist that is obviously amazing?

I understand there is a lot of pressure for Hispanic artists trying to breakthrough to the Anglo market; especially with competition like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Beyonce…and the likes. That’s why it was only natural for Shakira to show the world how a Latina moves her hips in order to stand out.

And, believe me when she did it in “Hips Don’t Lie” and with Alejandro Sanz in “La Tortura” the world was pretty mesmerized. Not only did she look sexy, she had changed her look from black hair to red hair to becoming this blonde bomb shell.  So far so good. I was excited about her career and was pretty clear as to what her strategy was to cater to a heavy pop culture, lollipop music type of audience.

From 2001 to 2006 Shakira established herself by giving us enough hip shaking, sexy moving, mud dancing, snake like moves (where her chest and shoulders move without moving her hips), and outfits that don’t go further than bikini tops and tight leather pants.

So, when it was known that Shakira was coming out with a new album in 2009, I was excited to see how she would re-invent herself in order to stay fresh and new. Now, with her “She Wolf” album, Shakira has taken her sexuality to a whole new level by dancing inside cages, humping speakers at concerts and making semi orgasmic sounds. And, while this may help her sell millions of records, I wonder if she’s ever asked herself if she’s taken this too far?

I don’t want to hate for the sake of hating. I just expect more from the intelligent, highly intellectual, don’t have to sell-my-body for you to like my music type of woman that I once knew. I miss the substance she used to give me with her music. And it seems I’m not the only one that feels this way, as I hear the “she sold out” comment a lot more now than ever before.

So, now I ask you. Has her ambition sold her out to the millions of fans who helped sky rocket her career and have been patient with her while she ‘makes’ it in the general market?

What do you think, has she sold out?

  1. Honestly no. Let me tell you why.
    Shakira is very intelligent, she has an IQ of 140, she is booksmart, visionary and very light hearted. You can not expect that such a clever individual does all of this, trying to just be cheap. Shakira is not, and will never be cheap. Shakira seems to me, so intelligent, and I can see it also in interviews, that she doesn’t care anymore about how people view her if she, say, ties herself up in a cage or hump a speaker. She has evolved, and grown, so it no longer is about sexual things for her. All her moves, I really think she would do if she was a fat man too, she just is this way. She is eccentric at times, very odd, but in the same time, totally normal. That’s Shakira. Someone who wants to aswell experiment with different things, unlike many other performers. She is truly the best. Oh and also, please, whoever wrote all this, you are obviously concerned, I suggest you buy her new album Sale el Sol when it comes out mid-october. Listen to that album, and see if you can notice a return to her roots, just slightly, because I can.

    • Thanks for your honest commentary and I agree with you. As it is written on the post she’s definitely intelligent, highly eloquent and a visionary and that’s why I expect more from her. I’ve seen her grow but honestly I’m not sure how much more of her hip shaking actually allows her to grow as an artist. It just seems repetitious for the past 9 years. In fact, her new song Loca is more of what I’m talking about…check out the making of it here I’m glad she’s coming out with a new album and if what you say is true – that she may be returning to her roots…then that will only make me happy. Thanks again for your visit.

      • I can see what you mean. I’m sure that once Shakira matures and reaches her 40’s, she will probably be more subtle with her sexuality. But I just feel that right now, when I think of hips, and bellydance in modern culture, only, and I mean only, Shakira come to mind. She has invented it in pop culture. That is amazing to me. She Wolf was not anywhere near my favourite single of hers. It’s very sexual, so sexual that people got distracted by the very social issue hidden in the song. But I like that she did it to be honest. It functions kinda as a spin-off from her career as we know it, like Beautiful Liar with Beyonce.
        On another note, Loca, to me, is amazing, I really love it. But what I was saying was that the whole Sale el Sol album, is gonna be very much a synthesis of her first albums. Go to YouTube and search “Shakira Antes De Las Seis”. That is one of the new songs from the Sale el Sol album. To me, it’s very retro-Shakira. I appreciate her ability to make many different songs, be it a tropical hip-shaking song like Loca, electro pop song like She Wolf, Rock-en-Espanõl song like Si Te Vas, and cookiecutter songs like Whenever, Wherever.

  2. you post an interesting question Liliana. I think if Shakira is as brilliant as all her fans find her to be (including myself), she will find a way to go beyond the hip shaking phenomenon she has created and be able to discovery uncovered territory once again and invent herself in new ways, all of this without losing her essence, of course. Looking forward to her new album!

  3. I totally agree with you. Im also colombian and I have been listening to her song since “pies Descalsos” and “donde estan Los ladrones” which i believe is her best work ever. Once she became mainstream, her songs lack substance. Dont get me wrong, I still love her, and I’m proud she’s from my country. You posted a very good point and I totally agree with you paisana..

    • Hey Mariliza,

      Glad to have another Colombiana reading the blog. Thanks for visiting and sharing your opinion. It’s because we truly admire her work and what she’s done in the past that makes us write about it 🙂

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