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?