10 Essential Shakira Songs from “Beautiful Liar” to “Hips Don’t Lie”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Shakira, Shakira! A now-global sensation, the Colombian-raised artist was already a big deal in the world of Latin music when she broke into the U.S. mainstream with her 2001 English-language release, Laundry Service. Since then, she has been unstoppable in any music market.

Whenever Shakira releases music, the world takes notice. Equipped with powerhouse vocals, inventive songwriting skills, and hips that don’t lie, her music knows no genre, no set language, and absolutely no bounds.

From “Beautiful Liar” to “Hips Don’t Lie,” here are 10 Shakira essentials.

10. “She Wolf”

The throwback-tinted electro-groove “She Wolf” is the perfect introduction to the pop star’s versatility. One minute she’s innovating songs with world rhythms and dance beats, the next she’s animating the latest radio bangers with otherworldly howls and deep-throated pants.

Shakira told Rolling Stone how her 2009 hit “She Wolf” came to her. “I was in the studio in a bad mood that day,” she explained. “Then I got inspired and went to a corner and I wrote the lyrics and the melody in 10 minutes. The image of the she wolf just came to my head, and when I least expected it I was howling and panting.”

9. “Monotonía”

It was neither your fault nor mine / The monotony was to blame / I never said anything but it hurt me / I knew this would happen, translates the opening lines of “Monotonía.”

Shakira’s latest release comes from a difficult place as the singer has recently had to traverse hard times. Amid loss, legal troubles, and what she has describes as her “darkest hour,” she puts her heartbreak and vulnerability on full display in the Spanish-language bachata track, featuring Puerto Rican artist Ozuna.

8. “Ojos Asi”

The 1998 hit, “Ojos Asi,” like much of Shakira’s music, knows no borders. The hypnotic tune draws from several world music influences, as the song incorporates elements of Arabic pop and also includes Arabic song lyrics.

For Shakira’s 2001 studio album, Laundry Service, the song was re-released in English and titled “Eyes Like Yours.”

7. “Beautiful Liar”

Beyoncé + Shakira = a collaboration that everyone needed, but didn’t know until the arrival of 2007 bop “Beautiful Liar.” A song about two women being charmed by the same man, “Beautiful Liar” is a girl power anthem in which the pair choose themselves over some guy.

The song appeared on the deluxe edition of Beyoncé’s second solo studio album, B’Day. A Spanish version was recorded and released as “Bello Embustero.”

6. “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)”

The official song for the FIFA World Cup in 2010, “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” uses traditional African music, blending the sounds with Colombian rhythms to create one of the most memorable World Cup songs in history.

Featuring the South African band Freshlyground, the song drew inspiration from and borrowed many elements from the song “Zangaléwa” by Cameroonian band Golden Sounds. Both songs feature lyrics offering encouragement and championing perseverance even when things get difficult.

5. “Tú”

Because you are my sun / The faith with which I live / My voice’s power / The feet with which I walk / It’s you, love / My desire to laugh / The goodbye I’ll never know how to say / Because I could never live without you, translate the chorus of “Tú.”

This song exemplifies Shakira’s range as an artist. She can write a beat-heavy party bop and then follow it up with a beautifully vulnerable, heart-on-the-sleeve, piano-punctuated ballad like the one below.

4. “Estoy Aqui”

In “Estoy Aqui,” a young Shakira says “I am here.” With this song, she had arrived. “Estoy Aqui” was the artist’s international breakthrough, arriving in 1995 and peaking at #2 on the U.S. Hot Latin Songs chart. The accompanying music video was Shakira’s first.

3. “La Tortura”

The 2005 reggaeton-tinged tune, “La Tortura,” is a duet between the star and gravelly-voiced Spanish singer, Alejandro Sanz. The lyrics tell the story of a woman who has been jilted by her love and, as a result, her emotions have been “tortured.” The ex-love then returns and begs her for forgiveness. At the end of the song, Shakira tells him, I’m not going to cry for you today.

2. “Whenever, Wherever”

From her fifth studio album and her 2001 English-language debut, Laundry Service, “Whenever, Wherever” is quintessential Shakira. An energetic, infectious mix of Latin rhythms and world beats, it’s impossible not to groove along to “Whenever, Wherever.”

Of the task of taking on her first English album, the star said, “Before assuming this big challenge of writing for the first time in English and making my first English album and presenting it to the world… of course I was feeling ready for it, a little bit scared… actually a lot scared. But I knew I could do it and my instincts always told me to go ahead and jump in the water.”

1. “Hips Don’t Lie”

If you haven’t heard the Latin reggaeton pop Shakira classic, “Hips Don’t Lie,” drop everything and listen now.

Featuring Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean, the absolute banger became a global success when it was released in 2006. It reached number one in 18 countries and is one of the best selling singles of all time.

(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

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