They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
Today Shakira celebrates her 43rd birthday in style, sharing the Super Bowl halftime show stage with J-Lo. So today we celebrate Shakira’s storied career. Shakira has been a bit under the radar lately; we last heard from her in 2017 with her El Dorado album and world tour. She has already released a new single in 2020, though, so I hope that means another Shakira album is on the horizon.
From being a major player in making Spanish music more mainstream (pre-“Despacito” and friends) to performing pump-up jams at major sporting events (for both kinds of football, no less) to tackling body image issues (although attracting some criticism for her stance), Shakira is so much more than her truthful hips. Taylor Swift’s new documentary even reminded me that Shakira was presenting Swift the award during the Kanye West drama.
Shakira is especially active in charity efforts and politics; her charity operation, the Pies Descalzos Foundation, provides schools for poor children in her home country of Columbia. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has been recognized by the UN for her many efforts. Keep up the good work, Shakira, while we remind ourselves of your many hits.
Mundy – Whenever, Wherever (Shakira cover)
Shakira was rising in fame among Spanish speaking countries in the late ’90s and was starting to cross over into the English-speaking public eye (nay, ear) with her successful MTV Unplugged album. The live album went platinum (like other notable Unplugged albums) and won Best Latin Pop Album at the Grammys. In 2001, Shakira released Laundry Service, her first album in English, and launched it with this first single. Mundy’s version replaces the more bombastic intro of the original with a harmonica, but then only the vocals and a light, acoustic guitar continue throughout. This cover takes a more muted approach, sounding more like a folkish lament than a siren’s declaration.
Kieran Goss – Underneath Your Clothes (Shakira cover)
This single followed “Whenever, Wherever” on Laundry Service. It’s a testament to how popular these two songs were that the compilation cover album these two covers appeared on included both, making her the only artist repeated. This cover experience juxtaposes the one above. Instead of adding some melancholy, Kieran Goss gives a jaunty coffee shop ambiance to the more earnest original. The instrumentation remains simple, but harmonies add a little bit more depth.
Georgy Manterola ft. Hector Pastrana – La Tortura (Shakira cover)
Then came Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 and its English counterpart, Oral Fixation, Vol. 2. “La Tortura” was the first single and channeled reggaeton beats. Georgy Manterola and Hector Pastrana come close to both tangoing and piano playing. Each of the pair expressively play, alternating in a musical dialogue that sounds like an argument. You don’t need to hear lyrics to interpret their conversation; body language says it all. The piano top is repurposed as a drumming surface, used to punctuate every feeling.
Piamlove – Can’t Remember to Forget You (Shakira feat. Rihanna cover)
Shakira’s penultimate (so far), self-titled album featured this pre-ANTI-era Rihanna collaboration. The album also contains a collaboration with Blake Shelton, which seems surprising until we remember that the two were judges together on The Voice. And who can forget this collaboration with Queen B herself. Piamlove’s cover provides straightforward, acoustic guitar strums that give a beach-vacation ambiance. Although the vocals are less powerhouse diva material, they are clear and resonant. Piamlove matches the articulated melodies of “oh”s and handles the relatively wide range displayed by the original duo.
The Fray – Hips Don’t Lie (Shakira cover)
We cannot end without talking about “Hips Don’t Lie.” The song was record-breaking, grabbing the title of most radio plays in one week and the quickest rise in digital download sales in the U.S. The song even reached number one on the charts in over 50 countries! Shakira and Wyclef Jean performed it live to open and end the 2006 World Cup, setting the stage for another Shakira-football collaboration. The Fray’s tongue-in-cheek cover doesn’t fully capture the song’s whole power, but it is a fun approach. Monotone reading of certain lines, a carnival-like harmonica, and rowdy, Spanish word callouts are the hallmark of this version.