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Shakira returning to form

Swaying hips, record sales and radio play don't lie. Shakira is the stuff of crossover dreams, a singer fully immersed and accepted in two distinct worlds.

Two recent singles, “She Wolf” and “Waka Waka” (the 2010 World Cup anthem), were global smashes, topping charts as far as away as Germany, Italy and the U.K. Her live shows carefully balance dual languages and cultures.

Think back to Ricky Martin's late-'90s breakthrough and the subsequent Latin explosion. Martin's popularity quickly waned. And of the crossover acts that followed — Enrique Iglesias, Paulina Rubio, Thalia, even boxer Oscar De La Hoya — Shakira has proven the most consistent.

But success came at a price.

Shakira's first Spanish-language albums — “Pies Descalzos” and “¿Dónde Están los Ladrones?” — were angsty, anthemic calls to arms. Even if some called the sound a knockoff of Alanis Morissette's “Jagged Little Pill,” no one was doing iten español. Her throaty yodel pushed up against jangly rock arrangements on hits “Tú,” “Ciega, Sordomuda” and “¿Dónde Estás Corazón?”

It was soulful. It was fresh. It was raw. Her pale skin and dark hair, sometimes twisted into braids, gave her the look of a tribal goddess.

But 2001's “Laundry Service” changed all that, effectively scrubbing clean so much of what made Shakirainteresante. Her black hair was dyed blonde. Her midriff became a focal point, even when she wasn't belly dancing. The rock framework that made her a star collapsed into routine dance-pop, with token Latin flourishes.

It transformed the Colombian singer into a superstar. But it also alienated those who were around pre-Britney-fication.

“I'll admit, I definitely think she's gotten watered down,” says Karina Nistal, a Texas singer whose music has balanced her Mexican-Cuban heritage and American influences.

“She has grown as an international phenomenon over the years, but if I had to pick my favorite Shakira, it would be her earlier stuff in Spanish.”

Maybe those changes were, to quote one of her standout tunes, inevitable. Shakira's last all-Spanish-language album, 2005's “Fijación Oral Vol. 1,” paled in comparison to previous releases. Too much balladry, not enough bite.

Last year's “She Wolf” album was her best in several years, but it was an English-language effort with a few translations.

But there is hope. The forthcoming “Sale el Sol” (Oct. 15) is, finally, a return to form of sorts. There are fiery cumbia rhythms, heartfelt love songs and — yes — rock elements. The songs are interesting and don't feel like concessions to any certain market. It's a largely invigorating effort.

And Shakira cleverly acknowledges fans who prefer the original incarnation during “Gordita,” a duet with Residente of Calle 13.

“You're very pretty, but I also liked it when you were more plump,” he raps in Spanish, “With black hair and a round face,asi medio rockerita.”

Maybe, after so much double immersion, Shakira will be able to find a balance to satisfy both sides of the argument.

Joey Guerra is a pop-music writer for the Houston Chronicle.

This article has been posted by: xxjohnxx
Posted at 10/02/2010. Original article can be found here.

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Post by ali-shakira at Mon October 4th, 2010
Agree , I hope she return to Rock era.

Post by MBX! at Sat October 2nd, 2010
Yeah! The pre "Whenever Wherever" rockera Shakira was a goddess!!! What happened to her!?! Listen to Inevitable, Ciega Sordomuda, Si Te Vas, No Creo,Octavo Dia, Sombra De Ti, Moscas En La Casa... it's pure emotion, pure genius... I love Shaki unbelie [..]

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