Sure, you know Shakira as the blonde, hip-shaking, yodeling Colombiana. She is fun, talented, and an accomplished Latina. But did you know she is also an exceptional songwriter? Her first album, Magia, featured songs she wrote from the ages of 8-12, and she has been writing musical poetry ever since. It’s crazy to think that someone with such a natural gift considered that her music career might be over. Yup! Before releasing her latest album, El Dorado, Shakira “thought [she] was never going to make good music again.” Considering the success of recent singles “Chantaje” and “Me Enamoré,” it’s safe to say she definitely still has what it takes to make bangers.
Because of Shakira’s reign as a musical icon, some of her talent has been buried under the gloss of pop stardom, and many in the public don’t know just how involved Shakira is in her creative process. Here, we introduce you to 10 songs that showcase Shakira as the poet she has always been (as writer or co-writer). (All lyrics are in English – some have been translated.)
In this tune which was part of Shakira’s 1998 album, Dónde Están los Ladrones?, and was co-written with Luis Fernando Ochoa, the singer/songwriter ponders what God found when he returned to check on the earth after his day of rest.
If for lack of occupation/Or excessive solitude/God could not resist more/And he would go away to another place
It would be our doom/There would be no other remedy but/To worship Michael Jackson/Bill Clinton or Tarzan
It is harder to be a king without a crown/than a more normal person.
Poor God that does not appear in magazines./He is neither a model nor an artist or from a royal family.
“No” is the ultimate break up song. It talks about the pain of being in a relationship that has long run its course, and how attempts at making things right aren’t the same as truly making things right. The song was co-written with Ceruti.
I will ask you not to come back ever again /I feel that it hurts me still here
And that at your age you should know well what it is like to break someone’s heart so…
“Underneath Your Clothes”
Written about then-boyfriend Antonio de la Rúa, “Underneath Your Clothes” is an unabashed love song that Shakira included on her 2001 Laundry Service album. It is sincere, vulnerable, and reminiscent of the innocence of a first love.
You’re a song/Written by the hands of God
Don’t get me wrong cause/This might sound to you a bit odd
But you own the place/Where all my thoughts go hiding
And right under your clothes/Is where I find them…
Because of you/I forgot the smart ways to lie
Because of you/I’m running out of reasons to cry
When the friends are gone/When the party’s over
We will still belong to each other…
“Nada” is off of Shakira’s latest (2007) album, El Dorado. Another song co-written with Luis Fernando Ochoa, the song speaks on missing your love and how achievements – including fame, or fortune – mean nothing if that person isn’t there with you.
I’m walking on a sea of dry leaves /The angels fly over Berlin
They’re singing beside me a hallelujah/While the rain falls inside me…
Written for the Love in the Time of Cholera soundtrack, “Hay Amores” was written by Shakira and Antonio Pinto, and was nominated for a Golden Globe. The song speaks on a profound love that stands the test of time and distance.
…Like the Magdalena River/That melts in the sand of the sea
I want to melt in you/There are loves that become resistant to damage
Like the wine that betters with the years/So grows what I feel for you…
There’s no denying that Shakira loves to write about love. “Antología” is off her debut studio album Pies Descalzos, released in 1995. It talks about the things that she learned from a relationship.
…because all the time I spent near you; left its thread, woven in me.
And I learned to take out seconds from time/You made me see the sky deeper
You freed my feet from the pavement, so both could escape flying for a while
But you forgot one last instruction/because I don’t know how to live without your love yet.
Another song from the hit album Dónde Están los Ladrones?, “Inevitable” is a vulnerable look at love. Shakira starts with confessions about her faults, admitting that she can be difficult. Throughout the song, she is holding onto a relationship that is over, and wants her ex to know that she hasn’t moved on.
I always knew it’s better /When you talk about two
You start with yourself /You’ll know the situation
Here everything is worse/But at least I still breathe
In “La Tortura,” (written by Shakira and Luis Fernando Ochoa) singer Alejandro Sanz is begging for forgiveness for cheating. Although it hurts Shakira, she is not having it. She has learned that you can’t expect certain things from certain people.
…I can not ask for winter to spare a rosebush/I can not ask the elm trees to bear pears
I can not ask the eternal from a mere mortal/And go about casting thousands of pearls to pigs…
Man doesn’t live on bread alone/And I don’t live on excuses…
“Suerte (Whenever, Wherever)”
“Suerte” is part of the collection of love songs written about Shakira’s then-boyfriend Antonio de la Rúa. It talks about the luck she feels about everything, including how she was made, and how that enables her to love her boyfriend even more. The song was co-written by Gloria Estefan, as well as Tim Mitchell and Ron Smith.
Lucky that you were born in the South/And we can make fun of distance
I can scale the Andes/Only to go to count your freckles
With you I celebrate and suffer everything/My joy and my sadness
In “No Creo,” Shakira states that she doesn’t believe in many of the things others believe in, including some facts. She doesn’t even believe in herself yet. But the one thing she does believe in is her love, because he is the only one who really knows who she is. Shakira and Luis Fernando Ochoa co-wrote the song.
…I don’t believe the sea would ever/Lose the flavor of salt
I don’t believe in me yet/I don’t believe in chance
I don’t believe neither in Venus nor in Mars/I don’t believe in Karl Marx
I don’t believe in Jean-Paul Sartre/I don’t believe in Brian Weiss
I only believe in your blue smile/In your look of crystal