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When Shakira wanted to get a little bit country on her upcoming album, she approached fellow Voice coach Blake Shelton. The result is “Medicine,” a country song that’s light enough on fiddle and steel to work on pop radio.
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“I told him I wanted to work with Nashville people,” Shakira told Billboard‘s Leila Cobo for the magazine’s current cover story. “I was a little tired of L.A. I wanted people with another point of view, real people with roots with whom I feel comfortable working in the same room. And I told Blake I wanted to do a song that had the narrative of a country song, that was picturesque, that was a real song. But it also needed to suit me, because after all, I’m Colombian.
“I think I have real folk roots in my previous albums,” she added. “The acoustic guitars, that type of narrative, songs that have a traditional structure. And I said to [Shelton], ‘I want to do that type of song.’ When I wrote the song I didn’t know what direction to go in and I did like eight versions. Dance, pop … but I said no, this is a country song.”
The bilingual star worked on the song with writer Hillary Lindsey and producer Mark Bright, who both have collaborated with Carrie Underwood, among others.
“I think she did a hell of a job,” Shelton said. “One thing is for someone like her to say she’s going to do something and another is to do it. And I’ll be damned, a month and a half ago she wrote me and said, ‘I wrote the song, and I want you to tell me what you think.’ And I said: ‘Gosh dang, you did exactly what you said you’d do. It sounds like a hit song.’
“I was so nervous. You have no idea. I was so scared he was going to say, ‘No, Shakira. I love you, but no,'” she recalled. “But then he said, ‘Sister, I love you. This is great.’
“And then she said, ‘Well, do you want to sing on it?'” Shelton added. “I was honored to do it.”
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Shakira and Shelton sang each other’s hits during the opener of this season’s Feb. 24 premiere of The Voice, when Shakira performed a rocking version of “Boys Round Here,” and Shelton took a shot at Shakira’s “Whenever, Wherever,” on which she joined him for the chorus.
“She was one of those huge international stars I had only seen from a distance,” he said. “And she feels like someone I had known my whole life. She’s motherly to everyone she meets. I love being around her and seeing how she treats the group of people who travel with her. She’s just a real person.”
Shakira’s self-titled album hits shelves March 25. Her Voice coach pairing with Shelton for “Medicine” follows the success of Adam Levine‘s massive Maroon 5 track “Moves Like Jagger” with Christina Aguilera. She also recorded “Just a Fool” with Shelton, and “Make the World Move” with Cee Lo Green for her latest album, Lotus.
A version of this article first appeared on Billboard.com. Reporting by Leila Cobo. Read her full cover story on Shakira here.
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