Shakira is intellectually fascinating. No, that's not a pathetic last-call pickup line, nor is it a disingenuous way of disguising lust for the Colombian pop goddess (though that's an entirely appealing separate discussion). For years a superstar in her native country, the young singer-songwriter refused to release a crossover pop record in the U.S. until her command of English was proficient enough. No one was going to write in English for her. Plus, with a cosmetically obsessed record industry on her side, she refused the prepackaged DAT route and chose instead to rock out on the guitar, belly-dance exotically onstage and adhere to the bad-ass cool of her English rocker heroes. Her sense of self, and weird-ass yodeling vocals, give an edge to songs like "Whenever, Wherever" and "Objection (Tango)" that otherwise save them from contrivance it's easy to forgive the use of pan flute (uggggh!) when you pump in Shakira's sense of humor and pizzazz.


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