Shakira is turning her recent breakup into a plentiful source of inspiration and commercial success.
The Colombian singer has teamed up with Argentine producer Bizarrap for her latest hit — a visceral, scathing diss track about the infidelity of her ex-partner, former soccer player Gerard Piqué.
The song, simply titled “SHAKIRA BZRP Music Sessions #53,” debuted at the top of the charts upon its release on Jan. 12.
With more than 50 million views on YouTube within the first 24 hours, it became the biggest-ever debut for a song by a Latin artist in the platform’s history.
Shakira wrote on Instagram that she didn’t expect the record to go straight to No. 1 — especially at her age of 45 and while singing in Spanish.
“I want to embrace millions of women who revolt against those who made us feel insignificant.”
“I want to embrace millions of women who revolt against those who made us feel insignificant,” she posted.
The lyrics, coming out as a spontaneous rant, are notably unambiguous about the reasons behind Shakira’s recent break with Piqué, the father of her two sons, after a 12-year relationship.
“I was out of your league, that’s why you’re with someone just like you,” Shakira sings in the chorus.
“I’m worth two 22-year-olds,” she croons, slamming the former FC Barcelona player for cheating on her with a younger woman. And she adds: “You traded in a Ferrari for a [Renault] Twingo. You traded in a Rolex for a Casio.”
Mockingly, the singer makes plays on words with the names of her ex and his new lover. Shakira even refers to the tax fraud case for which she will stand trial in Spain this year, and which could carry a prison sentence for failing to pay 14.5 million euros in income taxes ($15.74 million): “You left me with your mom as a neighbor, the press at my door and a debt with tax authorities.”
Such directness comes in contrast to Shakira’s previous lyrics, which used to be private and more generic, journalist Nuria Net said.
“Now, it feels more personal,” said Net, who is co-founder of the podcast studio La Coctelera music.
“What people are kind of shocked [about] is that she would name names, that she would be so specific with the jabs,” she said.
Producer Bizarrap deserves much credit, too, journalist and culture critic Yeray Sánchez Iborra said, for imbuing the song with his trademark blend of hip-hop beats, electronic sounds and an easy-to-sing-along chorus.
“Bizarrap is on a roll: Whatever he touches, he turns into gold,” Sánchez Iborra said. “He probably is the most influential producer in the world at the moment.”
Along with commercial success, the song has also attracted great controversy.
Venezuelan artist Briella has accused Shakira and Bizarrap of plagiarizing the chorus of her song “Solo Tú,” released last June.
Shakira was also criticized for being too harsh on Piqué and his girlfriend, and for using a platform as powerful as her music to diminish a younger woman.
While Piqué hasn’t explicitly commented on the song, he appeared to be doubling down on the spat by driving to work in a Renault Twingo, and by announcing a partnership between Casio and the Kings League, his latest sports venture.
To journalist Net, this hints that the public row between the two celebrities may be premeditated.
“What people are not realizing is that they're both benefiting from this.”
For a star of such caliber as Shakira, everything is strategized and calculated, Net said.
Shakira, who was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, began recording her own songs as a teenager in the early 1990s.
Net, who grew up in Puerto Rico, remembers hearing Shakira’s early records at the time, like her album "Pies Descalzos," which stood out in a pop landscape dominated by “manufactured stars.”
“She was someone our age, a young woman speaking about heartbreak, and love, and about her aspirations and dreams, so that was super refreshing,” Net explained. “She was a revelation across Latin America.”
“Nowadays, you don’t need to sing in English anymore. “But in the late ‘90s, in order to cross over to new markets, you needed to sing in English.”
“Nowadays, you don’t need to sing in English anymore,” Net said. “But in the late '90s, in order to cross over to new markets, you needed to sing in English.”
In 2005, the album “Fijación Oral/Oral Fixation” featured the songs “Hips Don’t Lie,” one of her biggest hits to date, as well as “La Tortura,” a collaboration with Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz, with reggaeton-inspired rhythms.
“She was one of the first pop artists to jump on the reggaeton bandwagon when it wasn’t fashionable,” Net said. “So, she’s been at the forefront of that.”
Eclecticism became a staple of Shakira’s brand as an artist. Shakira, whose dance moves were inspired by her Arab roots, became a defining figure of a globalized music market.
Net sees Shakira as the biggest female Latin star in music over the past 30 years.
“There hasn't been another figure like her since,” she said.
In 2010, Shakira released her soccer anthem “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” and performed at the opening ceremony of the South Africa World Cup.
She also met Piqué, who at 23 took the trophy home with Spain and became one of the most-famous soccer players on the planet.
Shakira eventually moved to Barcelona, where Piqué spent most of his professional career at a club level before retiring last fall.
The singer said in a recent interview with Elle magazine that one of the two had to make a sacrifice, and that she put her career on the back burner for their family.
Still, over the past decade, Shakira continued to rack up commercial success, with star collaborations with Carlos Vives, Maluma or the Black Eyed Peas, and performing at the 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show. However, Net described her artistic output as “creatively dry.”
Shakira’s latest work, though, may signal a shift.
Nuria Net said Shakira hasn’t been this openly vulnerable for a long time.
“It does [take] me back to her beginnings when she was a singer-songwriter, a teenager, writing songs with her guitar,” Net said.
Shakira, herself, acknowledged feeling more creative in the Elle interview, and described making new music and working on her upcoming album amid heartbreak as therapeutic.
“Writing music is like going to the shrink, only cheaper,” she said.
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