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Review: Shakira - 'She Wolf'

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Shakira - She Wolf

Shakira - She Wolf

Epic

The Bottom Line

She Wolf is Shakira's third English-language album and fans of her earlier work might be in for a surprise. This is a darker, more personal album that explores adult themes to the beat of an innovative dance-like track. There's more electronics and more risks in the music. The album is one Shakira fans will either love or hate.

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Pros

  • Electronic pop music, innovative use of Near Eastern Rhythms
  • Clever, sly, unusual lyrics

Cons

  • Fans of earlier albums might not like Shakira's change of pace

Description

  • 13 tracks, 10 in English and three Spanish-language versions of songs already on the album
  • Guest artists: Kid Cudi, Wyclef Jean, Lil Wayne
  • Released November 2009 by Epic

Guide Review - Review: Shakira - 'She Wolf'

In 2001, Shakira released her first English language album, Laundry Service, and the non-Spanish speaking world fell in love with the blond, hot-blooded, belly dancing pop star. Her popularity skyrocketed in 2006 with the release of Fijacion Oral in Spanish and its English counterpart, Oral Fixation, that featured “Hips Don’t Lie,” the duet with Wyclef Jean that claimed the top spot on the charts for over a year.

Oral Fixation contained a list of tracks that immediately clicked with the main stream pop audience. Her third English-language album, She Wolf, will probably not resonate as strongly with that same audience.

She Wolf is an album aimed at the dance floor, more electronic, sporting consistent, danceable rhythms with the addition of unusual but effective sound effects like the wolf’s howl and Bedouin yodel-like war cry. Shakira continues to mix her music with Near Eastern instruments and scales although, except for a bit of reggaeton rhythm in “Long Time,” there’s not much Latin influence on the album. There’s also nothing that could properly be called a ballad.

There are two ways to listen to this album. The first is to take each track individually, assuming that each song is narratively separate from its album siblings. In this manner, you’ll find tracks full of clever lyrics, sly innuendo and interesting rhymes that shouldn’t work but do. You’ll also find that almost all of the songs deal with relationships, hot nights, cheating partners and looking for something more. Nothing wrong with that – it’s standard fare in pop music. “Men In This Town” tracks a girl looking for a guy in L.A., “Mon Amour” wishes an assortment of ills to a cheating boyfriend, “Good Stuff” refers to both the girl and what she’s looking for.

There’s a second way of listening to this album (at least the first nine tracks). If you listen to the entire track list, from one to nine, you’ll find a story. It’s a soap opera of a story, a story of sex, hot nights, sexual politics and the description of a turbulent, dark obsession. I don’t know if this describes the relationship of Shakira and her nine year partner, Antonio de la Rua, or someone else, but in either case the story is steamy, revealing and daring.

Try listening to the album both ways. She Wolf is not as easy to like as Fixacion Oral, but you’ve got to admire the experience as you dance your way through dark nights, hidden desires and effective music. Whew!

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