Unfortunately… Shakira [Rabiosa]

So, I really want to maintain my love affair with Shakira. I really do.  When I saw her at the W Hotel in Barcelona this past fall in her black mini dress and ridiculously high Christian Louboutin stiletto knee boots, she was so adorable standing there like a little princess on stilts. She is, indeed, just as beautiful in real life as she appears in her videos. But here’s the thing – ridiculous blonde hair aside – why does she have to persist in looking like a stripper in her videos? The girl can sing. She can also dance. Must she persist in demonstrating that even talented women must don their underwear in order for people to buy their record? Is she this insecure? Wasn’t getting the commission for the World Cup single at least a decent bit of professional validation? 

The release of the Rabiosa video is just another example of this. When I first started watching it, I was delighted to see Shakira with bobbed brown hair, in a pretty typical party dress, hanging out at a club with her friends acting, well, normal. She was smiling and dancing and playing around.  And then – out of nowhere and in a way that has nothing to do with the “storyline” of the video – she busts out in her Victoria’s Secret wear as a pole dancer. And although this is consistent with the video imagery we saw in Shewolf, which had horrible art direction I must add, why in the world do we want to see Shakira doing this again? At least put on a different outfit for heaven’s sake.

I do not need or want Shakira to be the Colombian Britney Spears anymore.  

But perhaps another perspective is needed here so I decided to ask a fellow-Colombian, GAD, his thoughts on Shakira.

“Shakira used to make indie music that was primarily for a Columbian/Latin audience,” he said, “and she gained an even greater appeal with the Latin Pop wave of the late 90’s and eary 2000’s.”

But, contrary to my opinions, it was not just her shift into a blonde pole dancer that caused GAD to change his opinion about her. It was the fact that she went from being the Shakira of Pies Descalzos into a  “totally trashy pop caricature of the voracious sexy Latin tart.” He goes on to say, “she has the right to make tons of money but she also has the right to take back her career from the crew that pre-packages music 3-4 albums ahead of the current release.” Good point — with all of her success, why doesn’t Shakira seem to be even remotely involved in her music anymore? Are these her artistic choices or those of her label?  

 In short, I agree with GAD. Although we expect musicians to adapt their image and art to coincide with their interests and with popular culture, we do not expect them to fundamentally change and that is what has happened here. The thoughtful lyrics and genuine smile from Estoy Aqui has ben replaced by awkward feats of flexibility and  the snarl that resembles a squirrel more than a Shewolf.  Further, while Shakira seemed to represent a Latin American artistic integrity she now seems to have fallen victim to the stereotype she was looking to rebel against.  
 
On another note  to further demonstrate the more fundamental issues with her latest works, I would like to point out some artistic “copying” found in the Shewolf  and Rabiosa  videos. With Shakira’s double identity in Rabiosa, I cannot help but be reminded of Jennifer Lopez’s Get Right video which she caught criticism for because folks thought she was trying to demonstrate her acting skills. Also, the unitard in Shewolf  looks very similar to  Beyonce’s Single Ladies.  If I had access to those production budgets — these things would not happen.
 
Check out videos below.
 
Shakira Rabiosa

Shakira Shewolf

Here’s Waka Waka (World Cup Song)

Here’s La Tortura with Alejandro Sanz which is probably one of my faves songs  

Jennifer Lopez  Get Right 

Beyonce Single Ladies

4 thoughts

  1. From Lana Coffey via Facebook: I have to disagree. I don’t see anything wrong with women using their sexuality to get ahead. Plus, she’s a bellydancer, it’d be weird if she danced all covered up when bellydancing is such a sexy art form. I love seeing her different videos and watching her dance moves, be it pole, belly, whatever :)

    1. You’re so great for commenting!!! I don’t mind women using their sexuality as part of who they are — just not ALL the time. We are so much more dynamic than that and when our sexiness is our primary mode of expression, it can get, well, un-sexy. Always love to hear what my super smart friends have to say!
      5 minutes ago ·

  2. Love, love La Tortura! I don’t mind the sexy as long as you turn around and do a more creative piece. I dunno. Can’t imagine being able to work with the budgets they have at their fingertips. Of course, the problem may not exist with the videographer / producer, but with what the video networks are willing to play. You gotta give the consumers (viewers) what they want. This is the same audience who’ve made 16 and Pregnant & Flavor Flav’s show major successes. Yikes.

  3. Beautiful, talented young women like Shakira being sexy appeals to a large consumer base. I suspect there are label executives accountable for sale performance lobbying her creative team shouting “it needs to be sexier – like that last video!” because their own performance reviews and bonuses are affected by a spreadsheet that has nothing to do with creativity, artistic integrity, or taste.

    Perhaps what is partly at issue here is a definition of sexy; yours being different from the majority of consumers. So is mine, I totally understand. I also understand label execs shouting for more profits (greed), art directors with a limited palette of ideas (ignorance), and Shakira’s determination to reach ever new heights of global popularity (pride). These three poisons represent the biggest challenges to our society, and the most profound obstacles we face in the microcosms of our own self-development.

    Even though it seems Shakira has allowed herself to be co-opted by a profit motive that has no problem appealing to the lowest common denominator (yes, I would put pole dancing down there), there are new young artists like Brooke Fraser and Hayley Williams writing great pop songs. These two young women have a substantial Christian background, though neither embraces the Contemporary Christian Music scene. While I’m thankful that neither of them choose to lecture us on Jesus, you may find it encouraging that they both manage to sell records without performing in their underwear.

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