Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Shakira – Loba



Keane Tzong: “Awoo!” – that sound you hear is the laziest, cheesiest, most uncommitted wolf howl ever committed to record. It doesn’t have to be anything more than it is, though; obviously Shakira knows just how much of a winner she’s got here.

Andrew Casillas: I’ve always contended that Shakira was the Latin music version of Prince. After hearing “Loba” on repeat for a few days, it’s apparent that she’s the Latin music version of Michael Jackson too. Notice the thumping beat (foreign to other Shakira songs) that Shakira rides til the funk reaches its point of saturation. Then the knockout chorus, featuring a deliciously atypical vocal performance, that sounds light yet powerful in its execution. The words contain the typical Shakira “WTF-ness,” where an ostensibly simple message is crouched in terms that are grating/genius depending on your point of view (obviously I fall into the latter camp), with this song carrying enough deft-paranoia to leave you light-headed. And most importantly, this track has disco strings. DISCO STRINGS, people. Whoa.

Michaelangelo Matos: The tune is catchy but not annoying, the arrangement would pep up a Europop compilation despite the beat not being all that disco (though the string-sample bridge probably means that the song is), and not knowing Spanish the “she-wolf” of the title sounds a little coy but not too much so. Always expect to not like her stuff for some reason, always happy when I’m wrong, which is usually.

Iain Mew: To make a song that contains Shakira’s unique (and great) vocal tics but is not dominated by them is quite something.

Edward Okulicz: At no point did I ever expect, when writing about any pop single in 2009, to have to write the words “obvious Boney M influence”. It’s a pleasure to do so, and doubly so to welcome Shakira back after too long an absence with an absolute stormer, packed to the gills with ridiculous hooks, plus panting, howling and fantastic disco strings. What more could you want? A big thumbs up to the vocals – rather than singing the same way throughout, Shakira really varies her delivery to alternately ride the beat, rise above it and convey a slew of emotions, even if the exactness is (currently) lost on this non-Spanish speaker.

Alfred Soto: With Shakira’s voice ringing like Anita Ward instead of roaring like Alanis Morrissette in Dogma, this slightly fetching piece of disco sounds weirder than Kylie and Nelly Furtado (love the strings!). But the track feels incomplete. As much as Shakira annoyed me ten years ago, and as much as I prayed she found a producer who didn’t assume walking into the studio that her pipes were one of the wonders of the world, I wanted greater tension. She could be singing to a click track.

Matt Cibula: If it’s Shakira, I’m interested and more than willing to jump in. This happens to be not my cup of hot estrogen but I’m not going to hate on it for not being what I want it to be. Plus those orchestral disco touches are pretty adorable.

Martin Kavka: I don’t think there’s any woman in pop who is as direct in expressing her desires as Shakira is. Indeed, the closest parallel to her is a fictional character, Rita Hayworth’s Gilda, “inflaming men’s hearts with a kiss, or a song”, as the voiceover in the trailer for that film purrs. “Loba” is pretty close to being a manifesto for Shakira’s way of life. If knowing what she wants means that she’s unsuitable for monogamous relationships — she’s not going to stay at home trapped in an emotional closet, or as the 40s-style film trailer for this song might declare, her desire can be contained by no one man! — so be it. She knows that men, and culture in general, will eat all this up. “Who doesn’t want a werewolf goddess?”, indeed.

Alex Ostroff: Shakira is probably our best pop star of the past decade, even if the Anglophone world treats her like an ESL oddity. She has a keen sense of melody, Herculean ambition and some of the weirdest lyrics to be written in any language. Plus, those hips! Here, caged in Autotune and synthy discofunk, Shakira casts herself as a wolf in the wardrobe, whose voracious man-eating appetite cannot be satisfied by candy, and who hunts herds of bachelors down with radar and magnetic heels. Where does one sign up to join her pack, exactly?

Anthony Miccio: I don’t recall ever wishing Annie sounded like a cross between Dolores O’Riordan and a trumpet, so I won’t pretend this is stellar dance-pop just because it wears its eccentricity on its sleeve. Cute, but no challenger to “Hungry Like The Wolf” or “Werewolves Of London.”

Chuck Eddy: She’s lost me in the years since Laundry Service, which I loved. This mostly slides past me, too, though I like when she talks fast and breathes heavy, and the Silver Conventiony string part is neat. Too bad Warren Zevon and Wolfman Jack aren’t alive anymore; they could’ve schooled her in the lupine howl department.

Jonathan Bradley: It’s in the way Shakira’s vocal makes eyes at the bassline, playing coy as it bobs and weaves across the dancefloor; she even manages to make her panting sound cute rather than lascivious. I know giving a high score to a sly little Spanish-language disco number is the Jukebox playing to type to the point of self-parody, but trust me: this one is worth it.

Hillary Brown: Holy shit. It’s like the Residents doing the Grass Roots’ “Live for Today.” Awesomely.

Additional Scores

Ian Mathers: [8]
Martin Skidmore: [7]
Richard Swales: [7]

20 Responses to “Shakira – Loba”

  1. She’s slightly dull, isn’t she?

  2. I love Shakira and this is a good track that I have nothing to say about, apart from noting that it’s like a less gay version of Kylie’s “Come Into My World” (possibly I’m thinking of the Fischerspooner remix). But the 10s are kinda baffling b/c Shakira has done much much better in the past. 7 or 8.

  3. Oh, actually the other thing I was surprised by is how subdued and actually not-very-recognisable Shakira is here.

  4. Alf: no. I mean, here, a bit, and on most of her first singles, sure. But then the second and third singles and the album come out and it’s like “oh yes she is delightfully deranged yay.” Who else in these benighted times would sing about her boobies and then crank out a surf-rock disco song about East Timor?

  5. “For you I’d give up all I own and move to a communist country. If you came with me, of course. And I’d file my nails, so that they don’t hurt you, and lose those pounds, and learn about football, if it made you stay. But you won’t. But you won’t.”

    Dull? No.

  6. I’d just like to question the logic that putting “the laziest, cheesiest, most uncommitted wolf howl ever committed to record” on your track suggests you’ve got a winner. If she thought the howl was lame, wouldn’t she have left it off rather than assume that a failed vocal interjection was the hallmark of greatness?

  7. Being able to translate the Spanish doesn’t mitigate my dislike for her voice. Her Spanish records were pretty big here in Miami in the mid nineties; I could hear what she was doing and loved the idea of her, but…no, sorry.

  8. Props to Matt for mentioning “Timor”, the bonkers dance song about East Timor that closed her last (brilliant!) album, of which this is a close cousin.

    Seriously, Oral Fixation Vol 2 is ridiculously slept on – mostly because the best song (“Dreams For Plans”) was left to rot as an album track in favour of the awful “Illegal”.

  9. Alf: okey dokey Professor Miami. ¡More for us gringitos pobrecitos!

  10. “the laziest, cheesiest, most uncommitted wolf howl ever committed to record” or not, you’re all overlooking the fact that it’s also adorable.

  11. Hey I said the track was “cute.”

  12. Alfred, I don’t understand. So you dislike her voice, and love the idea of her, but consider her dull? Aren’t you saying that there’s something ABOUT her that is particularly interesting, but she just doesn’t “do it” for you? Cause anyone worthy of this sort of debate wouldn’t be considered “weird” in my book. I mean, it isn’t like she’s Dido or something…

    And Matt: “Timor”! That song is completely batshit. But in the best possible way!

  13. I think I would like this a lot more if it wasn’t by Shakira. I can’t stand her voice.

  14. I think Shakira isn’t dull at all but this is a lot more diffident than I expected from the blurbs – Anthony’s Annie mention the most accurate.

  15. Tom… I think what moves ‘Loba’ far past diffident for me, despite it not being the most adventurous or exciting or ostentatious thing Shakira has done sonically, are the lyrics, which genuinely are more batshit insane than any of the numerous totally fucking crazy things she has pulled on us before now.

    Sole exceptions possibly being Timor and Octavo Dia, which is all about God taking a vacation and being jealous of people with families and how He is in the bathtub and has left us alone with Michael Jackson and Tarzan.

    But this is still probably more fun and crazy than both of those combined. Honestly, I’m really curious to hear the English version of this, because I have no idea how she’s going to translate this in a way that does it justice, especially since ‘Loba’ doubles as slut/bitch in Spanish (thereby adding all kinds of layers to this), and “she wolf” is just kind of weird.

  16. Alfred, I don’t understand. So you dislike her voice, and love the idea of her, but consider her dull? Aren’t you saying that there’s something ABOUT her that is particularly interesting, but she just doesn’t “do it” for you?

    Yeah — I can’t get past her voice.

  17. I love her voice when it sounds like no one else, like someone has invented some previously unimagined new woodwind instrument. She doesn’t do quite enough of that here, for me.

  18. English version has leaked. The lyrics are….clumsier, to say the least. It has its moments but like all attempts to directly translate something Shaki’s written in Spanish, it doesn’t quite work as well.

  19. The Spanish version sounds better, yeah, although the English version does perhaps help convey just how batshit crazy the song’s central metaphor is.

    But lex is right, she has done way better before, so tens seem heated. An [8] for me. Strings are great though!

  20. woulda given this at least a 9 by the way.
    and the video is SMOKING