WHAT ARE SHAKIRA'S BEST ALBUMS?
With Shakira releasing a brand new mega-hit collection of songs, it seems like it might be the ideal moment to have a look back at her previous works. Everything the Latin singer-songwriter touches turns into gold, with her latest instalment ‘El Dorado’ reaching the top of the charts in over 35 countries just hours after its release.
There’s a question in the air though: is the quality of her product still as good as it used to be or is it that she just has a loyal fanbase she’s been nurturing all these years? The brand ‘Shakira’ may have disconnected from the core of her music. Is it possible that all Shakira needs these days is to put her stamp and a few beats on her work to make it successful?
9. EL DORADO
As we were discussing, this is her latest instalment. Several tracks had already been released a year before (such as 'Chantaje' and 'La Bicicleta'), almost as if the album’s release had been postponed for too long. Although they give the sensation of stealing the place of new songs, they are bound to be the most successful.
Like most recent major pop releases, the album is full of collaborations (though only within the same genre). These were probably produced to leverage on each other’s fanbase.
Positives include its high standard production and uplifting rhythm. Nevertheless, unlike in previous albums, the Colombian star overuses the traditional ‘reggaeton’ beat, when she usually spans across more flavours within the rich Latin musical sphere. Additionally, her lyrical content doesn’t bring anything new after over 25 years working in the industry.
Overall, it might be her least exciting and safest release so far. Still, there’s no doubt it shall be extremely successful. Shakira does no longer need to prove how good she truly is.
8. SHE WOLF
‘She Wolf’ features more electronic influences than what we are used to in Shakira’s music. Overall, it is quite an innovative effort for the artist. The tile track, ‘La Loba’ in Spanish, soon became popular worldwide, yet ‘Gypsy’ might be the greatest gem on the album. With lyrics depicting the essence of a free spirit and gypsy-esque sounds, ‘Gypsy’ is reminiscent of the singer’s brilliant earlier work.
This album probably represents Shakira’s consolidation in the anglophone market. It’s indeed full of bangers in English, yet preserving the smart move of including some of her tracks in her native language. Following ‘Waka Waka’ (whose chorus was borrowed from an old Colombian jingle), Shakira once more penned down a successful anthem for the World Cup, ‘La La La’. She also teams with Rhianna to craft a smash reggae/rock hit in ‘Can’t Remember To Forget You’. As far as I am concerned, these tracks sound a bit too repetitive.
However, highlights include the wonderfully enchanting ‘Cut Me Deep’, written by MAGIC! and performed alongside the Canadian band’s frontman, as well as ‘Loca Por Ti’, a Spanish adaptation of an old Catalan song called ‘Boig Per Tu’, now with a more country vibe.
6. SALE EL SOL
In ‘Sale el Sol’ (‘Here Comes The Sun’), Shakira travels back to her musical roots. Alternating her earlier characteristic soft rock sound with ‘merengue’ and other Latin rhythms, which became her signature with the success of ‘Hips Don’t Lie’, the Colombian artist doesn’t disappoint. Although best appreciated by bilingual speakers, it may still be enjoyed by every music consumer thanks to its eclectic composition. I suggest listening to 'Sale el Sol', 'Addicted To You' and 'Antes de las Seis'.
5. ORAL FIXATION VOL. 2
Featuring Shakira’s biggest hit and most celebrated collaboration, ‘Hips Don’t Lie’, ‘Oral Fixation Vol. 2’ is almost as good as its predecessor. ‘How Do You Do’ is surprisingly reminiscent of Alanis Morisette’s ‘Hands Clean’, yet still a nice hook in its own right. Do not miss ‘Don’t Bother’ either.
Curiously, this is Shakira’s least Latin-sounding piece of work. Further highlights include ‘Hey You’, interestingly influenced by Brit pop and Santana collaboration ‘Illegal’.
There’s a pleasant early Maroon 5 vibe around this record… or maybe it’s the other way around.
4. FIJACIÓN ORAL VOL. 1
Or ‘Oral Fixation Vol. 1’, is the predecessor of Shakira’s only album completely in English. As good as it is, it could have easily been placed forward in this list; it’s just that from this point onwards everything you’ll find has exceptional quality.
You can’t miss ‘La Tortura’, the first (and one of the few) ‘reggaeton’ songs crafted with absolutely great taste, thrilling, powerful, melodic and timeless. ‘Las De La Intuición’ is equally magical, although I would recommend its never-released English version. ‘Día de Enero’, ‘Día Especial’ and ‘No’ are two unmissable ballads too.
3. PIES DESCALZOS
We’ll count this one as her legitimate debut, even though the singer released two barely unnoticed albums during her teenage years. ‘Pies Descalzos’ (‘Bare feet’) is Shakira in her purest form. Released only the year after ‘Jagged Little Pill’, one wonders if the Alanis influences are just a coincidence. The album clearly flows around a main single, ‘Estoy Aquí’, probably Shakira’s most essential tune ever, which secured her a successful start in every Spanish-speaking market. Its haunting melody is as catchy as exceptional, and considered one of her greatest efforts among Spanish listeners.
Other highlights include the magical realism of ‘Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos’ and ‘Se Quiere, Se Mata’, as well as ‘Dónde Estás Corazón’.
2. LAUNDRY SERVICE
Shakira’s first bilingual album was edited in different forms in English-speaking and Spanish-speaking markets. The aim of breaking worldwide was irrevocably fulfilled with the recognisable ‘Whenever, Wherever’, ‘Suerte’ (‘Luck’) in its original Spanish version. But the lead single could easily be eclipsed by a collection of strong entries, such as ‘Objection’, an intelligent combination of Tango and Latin rock that is as punching as its lyrics. Although popular upon its release, the song has become unfortunately understated over the years. I definitely recommend another listen!
‘Underneath Your Clothes’ is one of the first Shakira tracks that was written exclusively in English and might as well be her finest ballad in this language, intimate and charming.
Spanish speakers might pay more attention to the brilliant ‘Te Dejo Madrid’, a rock anthem with fun and smart lyrics like ‘Cats like me fall on their feet’. Furthermore, ‘Que Me Quedes Tú’ received quite a great deal of acclaim as well.
Some may label ‘Laundry Service’ as her most commercial album, not necessarily one of her best. In my opinion commercial and great quality are not mutually exclusive concepts, they are simply independent. What do you think?
1. ¿DÓNDE ESTÁN LOS LADRONES?
Shakira’s consolidation in Latin America and Spain proved the artist to be a solid songwriter with the ability of combining a wide variety of genres. Pure and existential, ‘Where Are The Thieves?’ is the diary of a broken-hearted young adult. Its raw emotion shines particularly bright in three acoustic soft rock songs: ‘Ciega, Sordomuda’ (‘Blind, Deaf, Numb’), ‘Si Te Vas’ (‘Should You Leave’) and ‘Inevitable’. In ‘Ojos Así’ Shakira’s Arabian ancestry stands out.