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Shakira attends The 24th Annual Latin Grammy Awards on November 16, 2023 in Seville, Spain.

Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll was born on February 2, 1977, in Colombia. Shakira’s writing skills started at an early age, when she wrote her first poem at four, per Rolling Stone. Gifted a typewriter at seven years old, Shakira continued writing poetry, which eventually evolved into songs. A year later, Shakira wrote her first song, titled “Tus gafas oscuras” (“Your dark glasses”). With her father being Lebanese and taking her to a Middle Eastern restaurant, Shakira first heard the doumbek (a traditional drum used in Middle-Eastern music usually accompanied by belly dancing). She started dancing on the table, and the experience made her realize she wanted to be a performer. She enjoyed singing for schoolmates, teachers, and the nuns at her Catholic school, but in second grade, she was rejected for the school choir because her vibrato was too strong. The music teacher told her that she sounded “like a goat.” She was also known as “the belly dancer girl” after showing off her skills at school every Friday. “That’s how I discovered my passion for live performance,” she said.

An Early Star

Between the ages of ten and thirteen, Shakira gained local recognition after participating in various events in her hometown of Barranquilla. A local theater producer was impressed with her and tried to help her career. Traveling to Bogotá, the producer convinced Sony Colombia executives to hold an audition for Shakira. She performed three songs for the executives and impressed them enough for her to be signed to record three albums. Her debut album, Magia, was recorded in 1990 when she was only 13. The songs are a collection she made when she was eight, consisting of pop-rock ballads and disco songs.

Shakira’s second studio album, Peligro, was released in March. Neither recorded was a hit and are currently out of print. With a final chance given by Sony, she released Pies Descalzos in 1996. Her fourth studio album, Dónde Están los Ladrones? was released two years later. Upon the success of the album, Shakira compiled an English crossover album. Her lead single, “Whenever, Wherever,” became an international success. With eleven studio albums in her discography, we compiled a list of our six favorite Shakira songs. Take a look below:

  • 'Loca'

    Shakira’s right, she’s crazy, but we like it. The 2010 Latin pop track from her ninth studio album Sale el Sol describes her eccentric infatuation with a man. The music video features Shakira dancing with a crowd at the beach wearing a gold bikini. This music video shows her being free, roller skating, dancing with a crowd and by herself, and hopping on the back of a motorcycle. Her sensual singing is one of the reasons why we love Shakira’s songs, contrasting with the dance beats.

  • 'Hips Don't Lie'

    This 2005 Latin pop song features Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean. As the second single from 2005 seventh studio album, Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 (2005), Shakira and Jean wrote the lyrics and jointly composed the music. The hit track was a reworking of Jean’s 2004 song, “Dance Like This.” The iconic trumpet line and reggaeton influence are its secret sauce, as well as Jean’s “Shakira, Shakira.” In a previous interview, Shakira said the song’s lyrics were inspired by her ability to determine the release-readiness of a song by whether or not it motivates her to dance. She recalled telling her musicians, “My hips don’t lie! Are they moving? They’re not moving! So this is not ready.”

  • 'She Wolf'

    From her 2009 eighth studio album of the same name, Shakira embraced her inner “she wolf” with this track. The electropop track details Shakira’s boredom due to her uncaring partner, and how she looks for others to please her. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Shakira said that the idea for “She Wolf” came to her “very mysteriously.” After being in a bad mood in the studio that day, she was inspired and wrote the lyrics and the melody in ten minutes. The image of the she wolf just came to her, and when she least expected it, she was “howling and panting.”

  • 'Whenever, Wherever'

    This 2001 pop song from her debut English-language studio album, Laundry Service still has us in a chokehold. The song became her breakthrough hit in the U.S. before “Hips Don’t Lie.” The track’s lyrics detail how fortunate she is to have found her romantic partner. The signature guitar intro eases into the pan flutes before the song explodes in high energy. The music video features Shakira surrounded by Earth’s natural wonders. It begins with her submerged in the ocean like a mermaid before she leaps out onto the surrounding rocks and observes the mountains in the distance. She journeys into the desert while belly-dancing, where she is soon surrounded by horses. The artist then crawls through mud and continues her journey through snowy mountains before returning back into the water.

  • 'Beautiful Liar' with Beyoncé

    The collaborative 2007 track from the deluxe edition of Beyoncé’s B’Day album was an iconic pairing of the two powerful women. The song is a beautiful merging of Shakira’s Latin and Arabic styles with Beyoncé’s hip hop and R&B. “Beautiful Liar” is all about female empowerment. Shakira and Beyoncé are being played by the same man, but instead of fighting over him, they agree that their friendship is more important than him and drop him. The lyrics, “Let’s not kill the karma, let’s not start a fight” reflects the two bonding over their mutual betrayal.

  • 'La Tortura'

    Shakira’s 2005 track from her sixth studio album, Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 translates to “The Torture.” The sensual reggaeton track tells the story of a woman who has been emotionally “tortured” because her boyfriend cheated and eventually left her for another, and has now returned begging forgiveness. According to Shakira, the song is about “love and hate, infidelity, doubts, a chance of being forgiven.” She wrote the song in reflection about masculine pride, which she calls both “tragic and comic.” The song ends as she decides to leave her lover despite his pleas, and asserts that she will not cry over him.

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