The bilingual singer-songwriter known as Shakira has lit up the pop music universe for nearly a decade and sold over 30 million records in the process: since her 1996 release, Pies Descalzos, through her latest two-part offering Fijacion Oral, Vol. 1/Oral Fixation, Vol. 2, Shakira has mesmerized music lovers around the world with her words, her music, her vision and her soul. This star crafts songs that speak to everyone regardless of their native tongue.
Born in Colombia, Shakira was, from the start, an artist whose work crossed borders and broke records. Her first English language album, Laundry Service, sold 13 million copies. Fijacion Oral, Vol. 1, the first half of her new two album collection, was released in June 2005, and sold over 157,000 copies in the first week of its US release -- the highest first-week sales of any Spanish-language album in history. It debuted at No. 4 on the US album sales chart amidst a wide array of mainstream releases. It debuted at No. 1 in all Latin American territories and Spain, and became the first Spanish-language album to reach No. 1 in Germany. The album sold over 3 million copies in its first two months of release alone, driven by the massive success of the single "La Tortura" -- the first Spanish-language song to be sent into heavy rotation on MTV and VH1 as well as on mainstream radio. It earned Shakira three MTV Video Music Award nominations -- another first for a Spanish-language song.
Now, the world can enjoy the second part of Shakira's greatest work to date, Oral Fixation, Vol. 2, which is sure to further such success. Shakira wrote over 60 songs for these two albums, then produced and recorded 20 of them; 10 of them were released as Fijacion Oral Vol. 1, while nine songs, plus two adaptations, make up Oral Fixation, Vol. 2.
Shakira produced the entire collection of songs, wrote all of the lyrics and most of the music. She was deeply involved in every aspect of crafting these albums, from singing all of her backing vocals to overseeing the treatment of the instruments from their recording through to the final mix. But Shakira did not do it all alone -- she worked with some of the greatest talents alive. Uber-producer Rick Rubin -- the man behind incredible records by everyone from the Beastie Boys to Neil Diamond -- executive produced both albums.
"I wanted to have the advice and wisdom of someone who has been the guiding force in so many music projects I respect," Shakira says. "Rick is the musical godfather of the project."
Shakira was also joined by some of her regular collaborators, including Lester Mendez and Luis Ochoa. Two of Latin music's most visible auteurs -- respected songwriter-performer Alejandro Sanz and musical icon Gustavo Cerati, leader of Argentine rockers Soda Stereo -- were called in for key collaborations. And on "Illegal," guitar god Carlos Santana lent a hand.
"I feel thrilled and honored and privileged to have Carlos Santana lending me his genius for this project," Shakira says. "I think he did a terrific, very soulful performance on 'Illegal.' He brought rommance; he made it the kind of song that you listen to at four in the morning on your little AM radio. I really wanted to bring that sentiment to this one song and he did so magnficently."
On both albums, Shakira paints honest portraits of herself and the world as she sees it, amidst a truly diverse blend of musical influences, from rock to pop, from traditional Latin rhythms to electronic dance music. The result is an incredibly ambitious feat that proves Shakira to be an artist without equal. From the lovelorn power of "Don't Bother," to the worldly funk of "Animal City," the sexy strut of "Hey you," to the layered electronic dance rock of "Timor," Shakira tells poignant stories, painting canvases of scenes that speak to everyone. "Timor," is a perfect example of Shakira's skill. The retro-tinged, keyboard laden dance song is upbeat, but its message is anything but frivolous: it's about how our pop culture-obsessed society makes it easy for all of us to remaim blissfully unaware of such tragedies.
Shakira realizes the power of words and the importance that oral communication plays in our lives -- it is the theme of this body of work.
"The title comes from the fact that I have always lived through my mouth," she says. "It is my biggest source of pleasure and my most accessible vehicle to discover and enjoy the world. I am fixated on chocolate! I am fixated on the spoken word, the written word, the things I have said and the things I should never have said. That is the reason why I decided on this name for the albums."
The album artwork is significant as well. Shakira called upon Renaissance icons to explain the signficance of oral fixation. On the first album cover, Shakira holds a baby in her arms; on the second, the same child, perched in a tree, reaches for an apple held in Shakira's hand.
"Vol. 1 is more of a Freudian image," Shakira says. "It represents the psychoanalytical perspective, and Vol. 2 is more of a Jungian sort of thing, since the reference is to a universal archetype of Eve and original sin. I think that is something thhat is really subconciously in our minds. On the cover of Vol. 2, I wanted to attribute one more reason for Eve to bite the forbidden fruit -- that would be her oral fixation."
Many Latin artists have successfully crossed over into the mainstream, but none more dramatically than Shakira. Shakira's legacy is already long: she is the most acclaimed and successful Latin female solo singer alive. This year, she won the American Music Award for Favorite Latin Artist and the European Music Award for Best Female Artist. Her single "La Tortura" -- the anthem of Verizon's V Cast Campaign -- is the most popular Spanish ringtone ever, as well as the most popular AOL and Yahoo! download ever. It is, without question, the most popular Latin pop music anthem ever written.
This isn't the first time Shakira's popularity has been so unanimously recognized by the critics and the public. In fact, it has become the status quo for this 28-year-old songstress. In truth, it becomes her; all the more so because Shakira sees her success for all that it's worth.
"The best part of being an artist is that I get to be a communicator; I get to build bridges that bring me closer to people. I get to be a creator of my own environment. Just having the freedom of expressing myself and creating; it is a beautiful thing," she says.
Plan on seeing much more of her. Following on the massive success of her Verizon spot for "La Tortura," she will do it again, with two massive, multi-million dollar ad campaigns. The first will be her Verizon follow-up, for the new single "Don't Bother," while the other will feature Shakira in spots for Yahoo!
With her new album completing the takeover begun with Fijacion Oral, Vol. 1, and two huge ad campaigns, this gifted icon will truly be everywhere.
--- from the official Shakira website