The She-Wolf Strikes Back


Grey Olson, Editor

At the commencement of the Super Bowl LIV halftime show, a phalanx of dancers clad in sparkly red bodysuits surrounded a platform holding global superstar Shakira, who was slowly lowered to meet the rest of the stage. She swung her world-famous hips and cried out, “Hola, Miami!” In that instant, viewers worldwide scrambled to their feet, prepared to dance and sing along to every word. Of course, she co-headlined with J-Lo, but in this writer’s eyes, she was the true attraction of the night. 

 This was only three years ago, but also a lifetime away for most of us, Shakira included. In just the past year, she’s faced a massive amount of scrutiny and journalistic attention. Her tax fraud trial played out in Spanish courts to an intrigued public. Tales of her long and messy separation from her partner, footballer Gerard Pique, involving seemingly the most random assortment of objects conceivable–strawberry jams! Witch statues!–astounded the internet and commanded respect amongst large swaths of netizens. 

 Amid this most personal betrayal, Shakira has been hard at work on her upcoming 12th studio album, having already released collaborations with Latin artists Ozuna and Bizarrap. The latter track, rather unoriginally titled “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53,” has given the megastar her first Billboard top ten hit in a decade. An artist with such a massive reach as Shakira is in no danger of falling off, but this achievement is just one of a sequence of smaller victories. Of course, Shakira has always been “that girl”–the modern version of a Renaissance Woman. What other worldwide sensation do you know gave talks at the Oxford Union in 2009, just a year before releasing an official World Cup anthem–in this case, “Waka Waka [This Time for Africa],”–a song considered one of the best-selling singles of all time? Exactly. 

On “Bzrp,” Shakira makes use of her most clever wordplay since dropping the word “lycanthropy” on the 2009 smash “She-Wolf.” Some of her best burns include, “You left me with your mom as a neighbor \ the press at my door and a debt with the Treasury,” and “You traded in a Ferrari for a Twingo \ a Rolex for a Casio.” She even throws a not-so-subtle dig at her ex: “I only make music, sorry if it splashed you, or, in Spanish, “Yo solo hago musica, perdon que te salpique,” emphasizing that final syllable. But nowhere is she more potent when she plays it down, saying, “Good luck with my so-called replacement,” knowing the sweeter the line, the harder it stings. 

Shakira hasn’t been this honest since she felt like “Tiberius in a tomb” on “Vuelve,” a track from her 1999 breakthrough Pies Descalzos. Except for this time, she’s leaning more towards Empress Agrippina, returned from exile and ready for revenge.