Shakira x2

Excerpted from the magazine for

Leave it to Shakira to defy all the rules.

Typically, a Latin crossover act with an album in English will promote it to English-speaking and Latin fans. For Spanish-language albums, promotion is concentrated on the act's Latin fan base, wherever it may be.

But not Shakira.

Her upcoming "Fijación Oral, Volumen 1," due June 7 on Epic Records, is her first studio album in nearly four years. It is an all-Spanish album whose first single, "La Tortura," had its premiere on MTV.

It was the first time the channel added a Spanish-only video -- with no English counterpart. MTV also aired a "Making the Video" program in Spanish with subtitles during prime time -- another first.

Indeed, there is no precedent for "Fijación Oral." The album, the follow-up to Shakira's English-language debut, the multiplatinum "Laundry Service," is the first half of a two-part, bilingual project.

The second part, "Oral Fixation, Part Two," is completely in English and will be released this fall, also on Epic. Unlike other releases by crossover acts, the two albums do not have any songs in common.

"The original intent was to make one album, I didn't know if in English or Spanish," Shakira says.

When she started to write, the songs flowed in her native Spanish, and also in English. It was a different experience for the 28-year-old Colombian-born Shakira, who wrote "Laundry Service" armed with a bilingual dictionary, when she was just learning how to speak English.

From 60 songs, many of which she wrote with longtime collaborators like Lester Mendez and Luis Fernando Ochoa, Shakira whittled down the list to 10 in each language. She then proposed a stylistically eclectic two-album project.

"I don't believe very much in the musical unity of albums," Shakira says. "I don't think an album needs to have one general concept. I think albums have to be the spontaneous expression of an artist. That's why I took such a long time to work on these songs. And so many things happened in that time, that the first song I wrote has nothing to do with the last."

In deciding which album to release first, Shakira also broke ranks. Most Latin crossover acts have followed their English breakthroughs with another English-language album. But Shakira is following up "Laundry Service" with a Spanish recording, in order to fill what she calls "an urgent need."

"Fijación Oral" is a Latin-minded album. Not only is it in Spanish, but, for the first time in Shakira's career, it features collaborations, with two quintessentially Latin acts. One is Gustavo Cerati, an Argentine rocker little known outside Latin America. The other is Spanish pop star Alejandro Sanz, who joins Shakira for "La Tortura" and its video.

A mix of pop, flamenco and rock, "La Tortura" was also reworked as a "Shakitón" mix with subtle reggaetón elements. As with other Shakira creations, there is no clear stylistic element or ethnic influence that identifies it as her work. Rather, the voice, the inflection and the lyrics -- always clever and well-crafted—make the song purely Shakira's.

"I don't like labels, because I'm an artist on a permanent search. If there is any label I like, it is the 'pop' label, because it's a very flexible world," Shakira says. "I'm afraid of getting married to one sound forever. I want to have Don Juan's liberty within music, and do what my instincts tell me."

Excerpted from the May 21, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to subscribers.

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