Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ear and eye candy

My Shakira fetish

I was idly clicking through the local broadcast television channels when I paused on one of the Spanish-language stations. As is often the case, the station was airing a musical performance. The soloist's purple wig caught my eye. Kind of amusing. She was jerking about to the relentless beat in a sort of retro techno performance. (Techno is certainly retro these days, right? My expertise here is vanishingly small.) I recognized her voice—rich, throaty, and vibrato-laden— before I recognized her. It was Shakira, dolled up in purple wig, killer spike heels, and a quasi-dominatrix bustier (if that's what you call those things). Fear not. (Alternatively, don't get your hopes up.) It's good clean fun.

The music video is Shakira's Las de la Intuición. The title means “those with (or of) intuition,” although the “las” is specifically feminine, so one could well translate it into “feminine intuition.” It shows off the singer's customary sense of humor and playfulness, as well as a non-skanky sexiness that many of her contemporaries have been unable to emulate. I've heard that Shakira is paying tribute to photographer Helmut Newton with her decadent Weimar republic costuming in this latest video, but that could be just Internet gossip.

Intuición has been posted to YouTube many times, including a version with English subtitles for the Spanish-impaired and Shakira's own English-language version (whose English lyrics do their best to approximate—with mixed success—the original Spanish lyrics).

If I'm a fan of Shakira, then I'm a rather casual one. I don't collect her albums or download her music, but I'm always entertained when I run across one of her performances. Pop music is not one of my obsessions, so I was largely spared the battles of the blondes when Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera were struggling for superstar supremacy. Despite having a better voice, Aguilera lost to the over-produced Spears. However, now that Britney has been reduced to a tabloid-press curiosity, Christina may be catching her second wind. I don't worry too much about it. None of it is for my generation anyway. Ensconced in the world of Latin music in those days and not yet a major cross-over artist, Shakira gained occasional mention, but she mostly kept her own counsel and awaited her opportunities.

It was a good move. Shakira has been building her career, suiting herself and apparently seldom putting a foot wrong. Musical from an early age, she branches out as she sees fit, working in multiple languages and unafraid to bend genres to suit her inclination. I probably wouldn't have given her much mind except for the fact that there are times when she's deeply embedded in there.

An ear worm is one of those melodies or song fragments that get stuck in your head, replaying over and over again for no apparent reason. It turns out that I have a Shakira susceptibility. Who knew? It must be something in the voice. She struck me first with Suerte, whose nonsense syllables (“Lero lole lole”) created an echo chamber in my head. Oh, great. It didn't hurt, of course, that I found the lyrics amusing. Suerte means “luck,” and Shakira sings, “Suerte que mis pechos sean pequeños, y nos los confundas con montañas” (“Lucky that my breasts are small, and we won't confuse them with mountains”). In addition to having a self-deprecating way about her, she does seem to enjoy poking fun at breasts. (She deflates the silicone balloons of a rival in the cartoon section of Objection Tango.)

In Tortura we see her wiping away copious tears as her faithless lover spies on her from the apartment building across the street; when the camera moves back to Shakira, we see she's dicing a big onion. Always a slice of wry.

I haven't had many Suerte flashbacks lately, but Intuición has been lodged in my brain's shuffling circuits for a couple of weeks now (“El amor tal vez, es un mal común”). It won't go away and it hasn't faded yet (“Y asi como ves, estoy viva aún”). I probably have another couple of weeks to go (“¡Será cuestion de suerte!”). Something else will have to bump it aside. If nothing else works, I'll have to haul out the big guns. If I dig out Wagner's Parsifal and listen to Act II a few times, I can probably swap Shakira for the magical temptress Kundry.

Seems like a fair trade.

1 comment:

Blake Stacey said...

"Techno is certainly retro these days, right? My expertise here is vanishingly small."

You can always catch up with Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music. "Techno" proper has, I think, become a retro thing; certainly, the "Detroit techno" of the mid-1980s must be old school today, its cultural position now occupied by a radiation of subgenres, many of which just sound like different tempi to me.