Shakira is back with a new album, ‘Sale El Sol’ (Before the Sun) and if you’ve been unimpressed with her past few efforts (mainly the lackluster ‘She Wolf” album) then you should probably give this album a try. It’s back to the basics for Shakira: no Lil Wayne collaborations, no Timbaland-produced hip hop tracks and for the most part, no real breakout tracks to speak of. While I applaud Shakira for realizing that her quest to remain relevant in the U.S. was killing her music, I caution her for going to such an extreme as ‘Sale El Sol’ feels. It’s a timid, safe, sleepy album. Missing from the album is that edgy, a times sexual, fun Shakira that caught the world’s attention with “Whatever, Whenever” and she’s replaced with a rather sterilized version of that artist.

Track-by-Track
“Sale El Sol” has influences of rock and starts off the album on a bit of a laid back, easy manner. It’s a far departure from where her previous album ‘She Wolf’ left off and feels, in some way, like a track meant to re-align her with the type of music that made her popular.”Sale El Sol” isn’t a dance or club track but is an easy intro to this new album. The beat and tempo pick up with the next track, the English version of “Loca” feat. Dizzee Rascal. This in some way reminded me a bit of “Hips Don’t Lie” with the fusion of Spanish and Reggae/Caribbean music. It’s a very simple track lyrically and fun and carefree and centers around Shakira singing (and rapping) of how crazy she is about her love interest and how crazy she can get. To be noted, there’s also an all Spanish version of the track featuring El Cata later on in the album but the English version worked a bit better for me. The album continues with “Gordita” featuring Residente Calle 13. “Gordita” is a bit of a Spanish rap song and definitely stands out on the album in a good way. It was fun hearing Shakira stick to the Spanish song but explore the world of Spanish hip-hop/rap.

“Antes de las Seis” is a ballad and is all in Spanish. On her previous two albums I really haven’t been a fan of her slower/ballad tracks but that’s because they were mostly in English. To me, she really connects more with her music when it’s in Spanish. This track is probably one of the best on the entire album because it’s Shakira stripped down and not trying to be provocative, sexual or dance-inspiring. She’s really just singing and you can tell from her voice and the vibe of the song that this is one of the tracks where we’re really treated to the best of Shakira without any theatrics. I liked the oriental-like riff that plays throughout this track and felt it definitely made it feel worthy of replaying. “Addicted to You” feels like a filler track and is pretty forgettable. It’s dancey and mostly in Spanish with the exception of part of the chorus being in English. She goes back to the ballads with “Lo Que Más”. Similar to “Antes de las Seis” it’s all in Spanish and is very simple but it works because I felt she came off as very genuine and you could really pick up on the emotion and sentiment in the lyrics without needing to know any Spanish.

“Mariposas” is what I’d consider an easy listening/rock track. It’s pop, bouncy but isn’t the overproduced pop or dance track we’re accustomed to hearing from her these days. “Rabiosa” featuring Pitbull has the Spanish influence instrumentation wise and is a bit of a cat-and-mouse lyrical game between Shakira and Pitbull (and El Cata on the Spanish version) where the two of them are flirting and inviting the other to come closer to one another. It’s a dance track and you could easily see couples on the dance floor flirting and getting in the moment with the help of this track. “Devoción” is a Spanish track but has a bit of a rock edge to it. It’s not as peppy or dance influenced and has something of a dark overtone to it but I liked it because it really broke up the rather light-vibe of some of the other Spanish tracks. “Islands” is another light track that overall feels a bit forgettable, especially after following the offbeat nature of “Devoción”. “Tu Boca” is uptempo, back to the rock influence and is a Spanish track. It’s ok but like a lot of tracks on this release, it’s a bit forgettable and frivolous.

“Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” is by now a pretty familiar track since it was the anthem of the World Cup. This is probably Shakira at her best – the lyrics are very focused, inspirational and devoid of the oddity or distracting references that tend to hamper a lot of her music. The rest of the deluxe edition of the album is filled with Spanish versions of some of the earlier tracks including “Loca,” “Rabiosa,” and “Waka Waka”. There’s also a few remixes of “Waka Waka” included.

Final Verdict:
Eh. There are things I really like about this album but a lot more that I’m just not crazy about. I’m actually glad Shakira attempted to ditch her efforts to break into, or stay relevant, in the United States. The last album tanked with her attempting to be an American pop artist and hip-hop enthusiasts and overall this album feels like a step in the right direction. There’s nothing really on this album that screams “hit” by U.S. standards – and that’s fine. She shines when she’s back to singing in Spanish and playing around the wide variety of music and genres that can be found in the Spanish realm. I was also surprised, in a good way, that she had a bit more of a rock influence on some of her songs. There are fewer dance or club hits on this release. All that being said, “Sale El Sol” feels somewhat timid and reserved. It feels like she’s responding to her declining successes in the U.S. with an album meant to remind the world of her better days but in doing so some of her edge, spontaneity, creativity and that sexual prowess that she tends to exude in her music was lost as well. A lot of the music on this album feels watered down, weak and forgettable. Usually there’s at least one or two tracks that stands out as being potential big hits but I really don’t see any of the tracks on this release doing much for her career.

Listen to These: “Antes de las Seis”, “Rabiosa”, “Devoción”.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Completely disagree. The album is definitely a HUGE landmark in her career. In terms of sales? No. But in artistic growth. How many artists are willing to mix Caribbean music with Rock en Espanol? Not many. Every song here SCREAMS Shakira, even if it’s unexplored territory for her. The fact that the songs are so short also allow for repeated listenings without songs growing boring–I don’t know, but I just feel that she’s taken a really great step for her musical growth.

    Btw, understanding the Spanish lyrics really helps–it shows her dynamics and quirkiness in writing. 😉

  2. I agree. I expected by Shakira an album like archandroid. Not the research of an impossible success in the Us market (impossible because this market is full of garbage….) This album is good but she can do more more better………

  3. How to trust your review if you’re not even able to translate correclty the album’s name?

    You’re review is lousy, shallow and easy. You don’t give relevant info about the songs (for example that Island is a cover or the Waka Waka is a new mix), and you used the same words once and again. “It’s all is Spanish, it’s all in Spanish”. Duh… the album is supposed to be in Spanish. The songs in English are just translations (except for Islands, which is originally a song by the XX).

    pd: Who cares about the US market? I hope she continues to do things that have international appealing and not only made for US citizens, ’cause music in US’s current scene sucks, it’s something to be ashamed of.

    • Write your own review and then you can feel free to voice whatever your opinion of her album and the songs are. My opinion is as is – it’s just not that interesting of an album to me. Even though her past few efforts haven’t be stellar, what I appreciated was her willingness to try out new sounds and new things. This album feels a bit one note and as if she’s holding back. The fact that on the deluxe edition 3 tracks are all “Waka Waka” (yes, I know, they’re remixes or different mixes) and there are English versions of Spanish tracks just seems like a waste of track space on the CD itself. Again, just my opinion!

      • how is it a waste of space dont be stupid shakiras music has always been this way check all her deluxe editions most of the bonus tracks are remixes and besides the US market is not the only market out there thats why all her albums have done so well in the countries of latin america especially mexico where she is huge and her fame has never been better everyone sings her songs everyone exclaims how this is her best work yet and praise her for venturing a new style while still remaining somewhat the same for her long time fans

  4. I think your review is nuts. This album is not sleepy. The hips gyrating Shakira is a somewhat new face for her, so for you to imply it’s a watered down version of Shakira is just strange. When I saw her performing She Wolf songs I knew that they were just not her. This album seems to clearly represent who she really is, in my opinion.

  5. Unfortunately, a person who has no knowledge and understanding of the Spanish language can not present a good review. For example to say that addicted to you is a filler is hillarious, You obviously do not get the lyrics and the passion Shakira is conveying. So, contrary to your opinion, you will see this album will be a huge hit in the Latin market with at leats 3 or 4 big hits. Creativity, sensuality and spontaneity lost? hahaha Only a preson who does not knwo Shakira would say this.
    As I said before, someone who does not speak the language can not judge the album adequately, only the tunes. In any case, this album is not meant to be directed to the anglo market.

    • i agree with you all the song on the album are great i mean you have to understand the language before making comments like that, i mean even she wolf had hits in latin america she wolf did it again and gypsy were all huge in mexico; that is all of shakiras albums have had HITS in latin america including this one i mean loca is still playing heavily on the radio in mexico

  6. I totally disagree, I ignore how fluent you are in Spanish but if you are not, I don’t think you have any right to comment on the lyrics the way you do. You refer to Shakira’s album She Wolf as a lackluster, may I remind you of the excellent reviews the album had (See The Guardian, TImes, etc), there were comments like Preposterously Brilliant, etc it was not a success in the US, that’s true but it was not the album itself, the album has lovely songs that didn’t have the chance to come out as singles, such a shame that people didn’t appreciate the beauty of the album. It seems that the US standards are more for Lady Gaga’s songs, sorry, but I don’t think Shakira can create such crap. Is there any artist that can allow herself to take the risks Shakira does, I don’t think so. Please, think twice before reviewing an album, I have it now and I can’t stop listening to her tracks and I guess many people would think the same, thanks

  7. I am not going to judge you due to this seems to be a bias criticism/opinion. You don’t like Shakira, we get it! Shakira is a VERY versatile ARTIST! This album is not in anyway, intended to be for the anglo people. This album is pure Latin. This album IS Shakira!!! 5/5 stars for “Sale el sol”

    By the way, this album has potential and I would say at least 5 hits. More than any of her other brilliant albums including Fijacion Oral. The success will go like this…
    1. Gordita (WILL be as big as La Tortura)
    2. Sale el Sol
    3. Loca feat El Cata
    4. Antes de las seis
    5. Lo que mas (most likely won’t be a single)
    6. Rabiosa feat. Pitbull
    Not to mention Waka Waka is featured on the album which the video on youtube has over 200 million views.
    If this album doesn’t top Fijacion Oral in sale then I don’t know
    QUALITY WISE THIS IS SHAKIRA’S BEST ALBUM OF HER WHOLE CAREER.

    • i totaly agree except for lo que mas not being released as a single may i remind you that in fijacion oral shakira did release a ballad, and for oral fixation as well just like all her previous releases have inclded a ballad as a single and lo que mas in my opinion will follow this pattern

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