“Shakira” puts the She-Wolf back in the closet

Shakira’s self-titled album is fun but lacking

My hips don’t lie: Shakira’s latest album is out and it’s exactly what you’d expect. Released March 21, Shakira’s self-titled 10th studio album marks the end of a four-year sabbatical from music releases. Her music really hasn’t changed in the hiatus, and though it’s nice to remember her signature talent, it also provides nothing new to bring the artist back to the forefront of the pop genre.

“Shakira” is pretty standard Shakira. There’s a passionate, soulful love song “Broken Record;” there’s a pop dance hit that will be playing on the radio forevermore, Dare and then there’s a Latin pop hit to remind us we’re listening to Shakira not Rihanna, Nunca Me Acuerdo de Olvidarte. Empire is especially powerful, mixing Shakira’s dynamic talent with fairly clever lyrics and a catchy chorus. Shakira’s music is as fun to listen to as ever, hence her top spot on the Billboard 100.

The rest of the album is of typical Shakira-level caliber, and she even brings in a few big names in the music industry. Shakira duets with Rihanna in Can’t Remember to Forget You, as the dynamic duo lament their exes in a fun reggae mix. Blake Shelton appears in Medicine, praising love as the best “prescription.” There’s also a fairly awkward and out of place ode to Shakira’s husband and father of her child, Gerard Piqué, in 23 which culminates with the sound of their newborn crying.

What Shakira lacks is something out of the ordinary. Her new album uses the standard Shakira formula: reggae plus pop plus Spanish words equals hit album. But there’s nothing in “Shakira” that pushes the limits. For better or worse: Miley has experimented with rap; Taylor Swift with rock pop; Rihanna with controversy in general. Shakira, on the other hand, continues to release stock hit singles every few years. You don’t necessarily have to be controversial to be a good singer songwriter, but you have to do something new every once and a while.

Rather than finding her niche in the music industry and growing into it, Shakira found her spot and stagnated. Her once characteristic genre blending has become rote. It hasn’t reached the point of being dull quite yet, but it’s far past originality and quirkiness. Perhaps the change of record label or the long break from production has put the She Wolf back in the closet. Whatever the reason, her most recent album falters in terms of original content.

Nevertheless, “Shakira” is a pretty fun collection of songs. If you’re bored and have forty minutes to kill, this album is perfect. Otherwise, you’ll inevitably wind up listening to a few singles from the album on the way to the beach this summer. Either way, a year from now, most of the music on “Shakira” will be forgotten.

Published April 14, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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