Shakira's 'Shakira': What the Critics Are Saying

4:47 PM PST 03/25/2014 by Kyle Jaeger

The international pop icon branches out in her tenth studio album.

Since 2010, Colombian artist Shakira has worked on a variety of projects, bolstering her global appeal. She co-created and led vocals for the FIFA World Cup official song, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” capped Billboard's Top Latin Albums list with her 2010 release, Sale el Sol and coached aspiring musicians for two seasons on NBC’s The Voice.

The multitalented singer-songwriter has amassed awards and accolades stretching back to 1990 when 13-year-old Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll teamed up with Sony Music Colombia for the release of her pop-rock debut, Magia. After decades of commercial success and transnational stardom, the pop icon continues to advance her career, producing new material despite turbulent personal affairs. 

As a household name across continents, it makes sense that her tenth studio album would be self-titled. Shakira, out Mar. 24, marks the artist’s first major label release under RCA Records. The eclectic work incorporates diverse genres and styles, featuring guest vocalists Blake Shelton, Magic! and Rihanna, who helped launch the album's lead single, “Can’t Remember to Forget You,” to the No. 15 spot on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

For more Shakira buzz, here’s what the critics are saying about her latest album:

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While there seems to be a disconnect between the album’s thematic and stylistic arrangements, Shakira isn’t a “disparate affair,” argues Billboard’s Leila Cobo. “Instead, it’s a cohesive, organic set, with roots that lie mostly in melodic pop-rock and unexpected touches from multiple influences.” Cobo gave the self-titled album an 88 rating, noting how the “convincing, honest music” of Shakira “works on the strength of the songs.”

USA Today’s Elysa Gardner describes the recurring concept of Shakira as a “search for and realization of personal happiness.” Like many critics, Gardner finds lyrical references to “relationships that didn’t work out swimmingly” in select tracks, but those personal elements manifest with zeal, in Shakira’s “distinctly tangy voice” that “extols the more settled sense of joy that comes from finding what you were looking for.” Gardner gave Shakira 3.5 out of 4 stars.

The musical legacy of Colombia’s prolific singer-songwriter is indisputable, but “her recent albums haven’t matched the spark, edge and charisma from her work a decade ago,” writes the Associated Press Mesfin Fekadu. And Shakira “while enjoyable at times, doesn’t showcase this Grammy-winning, Globe-nominated superstar in the right light.” Lacking “emotion and depth, her tenth studio album features the 37-year-old taking a back seat as lead songwriter and producer, and that doesn’t come off as a wise move.”

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“Shakira has weird, very specific tastes,” says the Washington Post’s Alison Stewart, which would seem to explain the “near-lethal doses of reggae and ‘90s alt-rock” comprised in her latest release. Despite those variant elements, however, Stewart describes Shakira as a “charming, awkward and immensely appealing new disc.” The artist’s control “seems to ebb and flow" throughout the record, but she still commands “the broadest canvas of any pop diva in memory.”

Those familiar with Shakira’s work might not consider her latest album stylistically or creatively exceptional, but the “real achievement” of Shakira is that it represents “her most personal effort in years, a reminder that there’s a lot of heart and soul beneath the shiny exterior of her global stardom,” lauds the Boston Globe’s James Reed. “Shakira is a more middle-of-the-road affair, but it’s also more revealing," Reed continues, describing the overall vocal sound as “at ease and reborn.”

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