Monday, July 13, 2009

Single Review: She Wolf/Loba

Requester: Riha.

When we last heard from Shakira, she was shaking her assets with Wyclef Jean on the smash hit single, Hips Don't Lie. To date, that song remains the only song of her's where I prefer the English version to the Spanish rendition. Granted, I've never heard that song in Spanish, but you shouldn't let that detract from the compliment. Now Shakira is on the prowl with her latest single, She Wolf. For the purposes of this review, I will refer to the song as "She Wolf" unless I am specifically comparing the English and Spanish version, at which point i will use "Loba" to refer to the song en espaƱol. Take a guess which one I like better.

My initial reaction to the song was disappointment. To me, I expect Shakira to deliver strong vocals and attitude on all of her songs. Whether it's the dancehall vibe of Hips Don't Lie or the sultry fire of Objection (Tango), Shakira is best described by her strong personality. With She Wolf, Shakira is presenting an entirely new side to her vocals and sound. So my original disappointment resulted from my unmet expectations. However, it's not fair to review a song by how well it meets your preconceptions. Further listens made me realize: This may not be the Shakira I know, but this is a Shakira I could love. She Wolf is awesome.

First and foremost, this song sounds like nothing else on the Top 40. It's a bit jarring at first. The new wave guitar line and odd lyrics about lycanthropy and moon references make this song seem like an strange creation--sort of Blondie meets auto-tune. However, it all works. It may not demand your presence on the dance floor like Hips Don't Lie, but it does something more substantial: It creates an effect. Listening to the song, you almost feel moonlight washing over you. She Wolf has an almost dream-like quality...something that pairs with the magical realism of the song quite well.

If you struggle read or don't notice sarcasm, you may have failed to notice my preference for Loba over She Wolf. The lyrics are much more poetic. I cannot properly convey this to those who don't speak Spanish, but I will try with the chorus serving as an example. "There's a she wolf in the closet/Open up and set her free/There's a she wolf in your closet/Let it out so it can breathe" versus "Una loba en el armario/Tiene ganas de salir/Deja que se coma el barrio/Antes de irte a dormir." As you can see, there's some obvious repetition in the English version which doesn't exist in the Spanish version. The chorus in Loba takes the opportunity to create an image of this she wolf tearing up the town. The Spanish lyrics more strongly capture the wild and untamed nature of the loba. This is sadly lost in translation.

That being said, both versions are very enjoyable. I have high hopes for Shakira's upcoming release, even if it does not sound like the Shakira I already know and I love. However, I'm happy to have a new Shakira sneak up on me. Sigilosa al pasar, no?

Rating: She Wolf 3.5/5 stars. Loba 4/5 stars (A rating I admittedly have been giving quite frequently. I NEED MORE SUGGESTIONS! I need to review more music I do not like).

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