Music review: Shakira’s self-title album has much to like

Erin Johnsrud, Staff Writer

I’ve never been a huge Shakira fan. Forget the “huge” part, I’ve never been a Shakira fan. She’s immensely popular worldwide, and I couldn’t quite figure out why – yes, she’s nice to look at, but her voice – to me, at least, left something to be desired. In this review I attempted to get past that and listen to her new album in its entirety (keep in mind, I have never listened to a Shakira song all the way through – on purpose – let alone a whole album). My goal: a fair review, unclouded by my strong aversion to her voice. Is that even possible?

Her 10th album, the self-titled “Shakira” was a lot better than I was expecting. There is so much to like here, and a little bit that’s not so great. The first two singles “Can’t Remember to Forget You” (featuring Rihanna) and “Empire” are both very strong tracks. The former a reggae-infused rock/pop song, the latter swirling between soft and massively strong, it’s an attempt at an epic ballad that falls short, but is still a joy to listen to. Some of the better tracks on the album are understated with acoustic roots, such as the fun, upbeat song, “The One Thing,” in which Shakira sings about her infant son, and “Broken Record.” My favorite songs on “Shakira” are “You Don’t Care About me,” which has a great beat and interesting rhythm, and “Cut me Deep” (featuring Magic!) a reggae/pop tune with a little ska thrown in. It’s an inspired collaboration, far better than “Medicine,” the highly anticipated duet with Shakira’s “The Voice” co-star, Blake Shelton, which is excruciatingly bland and has unfortunately lame lyrics.

The song “Dare (La La La)” starts off sounding interesting, with some global/tribal-sounding toughness, but unfortunately transitions into a generic techno beat with average lyrics about meeting some guy on the dance floor. It may be enjoyable after many mojitos at a beach dance club in Tahiti, but that’s a shot in the dark, seeing as how I will not be in said environment any time soon. Probably ever. The album ends with two Spanish language tracks. One is the Spanish version of the duet with Rihanna, Shakira taking on all of the vocals, and a folksy/country song that, to be honest, I didn’t listen to all the way through because, well, it’s in Spanish and I’m not fluent. All in all, though, I was very pleasantly surprised with this album. From a self-proclaimed non-Shakira fan, I have to be honest and say that, overall, I dug it.