“It was an unconventional. One that almost didn’t get released,” Shakira told Billboard in 2016 of her 2006 hit “Hips Don’t Lie.”
Five years after she scored her first top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit, “Whenever, Wherever,” followed by a second top 10 in “Underneath Your Clothes,” the Colombian singer-songwriter’s second English-language album, 2005’s Oral Fixation, Vol. 2, got off to a skittish start when the lead single, “Don’t Bother,” reached No. 42.
Instead of choosing a second single from the album, then-Epic Records president Charlie Walk, who had worked with the Fugees, approached Wyclef Jean and Pras looking for a song with, he said, a “global, Caribbean sound” that would suit Shakira. The 2004 track, called “Dance Like This,” had originally been intended as a Fugees song, but when Lauryn Hill passed on it (shortly before the trio broke up), Jean recorded it with singer Claudette Ortiz, and the tune was included on the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.
That night, Ortiz’s vocals were stripped from the mix, Jean added “Shakira, Shakira” call-outs, and the new version was sent to Shakira. She added her own touches, including the line “En Barranquilla se baila así” – “This is how they dance in Barranquilla” – and she and Jean collaborated on the final recording.
Shakira told Billboard that the finished, retitled song embraced her roots. “It had sounds that weren’t just interesting and fresh to the pop scene, but also ones that I was really excited to experiment with and share, like cumbia and typical Colombian folkloric percussion and instrumentation. They were also deeply personal, down to the reference to my hometown Barranquilla.”
Oral Fixation, Vol. 2, with “Hips Don’t Lie” added, was rereleased March 28, 2006, and vaulted from No. 98 to No. 6 on the Billboard 200 dated April 15. The sensual “Hips Don’t Lie” did even better. The single became Shakira and Jean’s first (and, to date, only) Hot 100 No. 1 when it topped the June 17 chart; it added a second frame on top the following week. “The song hit middle-America hard,” Walk said. “It was a sound they’d never heard before.”
“Hips Don’t Lie” sold 1.4 million downloads that year, according to MRC Data, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. Through June 10, 2021, the song has sold 4.1 million downloads and drawn 685 million U.S. streams and 4.9 billion in cumulative radio audience.
For Shakira, the song’s success was “validation that I didn’t have to sacrifice any part of what makes me different to connect with a global audience.”