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october 19, 2010 • 04:24 PM

Sale El Sol Review: Shakira's New Album Delivers Half The Goods

Shakira
Foto: Album Art

Sale El Sol is a combination of all the good and bad things Shakira has done in her last albums. The good songs are actually great, but the bad ones just keep getting worse.

It sounds like three different albums put into one. We have a group of songs that belong in a Merengue/Cumbia compilation, then others that are pure pop perfection while some other songs have a very Electronic/Alternative sound to them. Sale El Sol will not win her any new admirers since it really offers nothing new but it will reaffirm the fans that Shakira's back to good lyrics, awesome beats and perfect melodies, well at least on 50% of the album. Loca and Gordita will become party favorites and will do well on the Spanish charts. This album is without a doubt just for the fans.

I want to like this album. I feel like I've been too hard on Shakira lately. Her last album, She Wolf, was a big disappointment both for fans and on the charts. While Sale El Sol is far superior to her last effort, it still falls short in comparison to her early work. I guess I just have to move on and like Shakira for what she has to offer nowadays.

There is no denying that she has evolved into the biggest artist to come out of Latin America since... well, ever. Shakira is a true international phenomenon and a worthy ambassador of Latin American music but I still insist that Shakira is at her best when she signs in Spanish. Nothing can compare to the brilliance of Donde Estan Los Ladrones and Fijacion Oral Vol. 1.

Calle 13 could not have put it better in their super sticky duet Gordita:

Shaki, tu estas bien bonita,
aunque tambien me gustabas
cuando estabas mas gordita
con el pelito negrito y la cara redondita
así medio rockerita, también me gustas ahora
pero cuando pierdes los modales
y comes sin cubiertos

Here's my take on all the songs from the album:

Sale El Sol
The opening song is a good welcome. It reminds me of her work in Fijacion Oral Vol. 1. the electric guitars and heavy drums on the title song take me back to Dia de Enero, Dia Especial and La Pared. It's a good track and will become a single for sure.

Loca
Can you say guilty pleasure? I refused to listen to it when it first came out. Shakira's crazy moves in the video and at her Letterman performance made me uncomfortable, but after really paying attention to the lyrics and listening to the rhythm time after time I must say that it has really grown on me.

Antes De Las Seis
The lyrics on this song are classic Shakira. It's my favorite on the whole album. It'd been a while since the Colombian superstar offered us an insight into her heart.

LYRICS:
Y hoy te ves tan extraño
duro como una roca
si te mostré pedazos de piel
que la luz del sol aún no toca.
Y tantos lunares que ni yo misma conocía
te mostré mi fuerza bruta
mi talón de Aquiles, mi poesía.
Si desde el día en que no estás
vi la noche llegar mucho antes de las seis
si desde el día en que no estás
vi la noche llegar mucho antes de las seis
mucho antes.
No dejes el barco
tanto antes de que zarpemos
hacia una isla desierta
y después, después veremos
si me ves desarmada
por qué lanzas tus misiles
si ya conoces mis puntos cardinales
los más sensibles y sutiles

Gordita
This will become the biggest hit from the album. Calle 13 is perfect on this song. Gordita will be just as big as La Tortura; just sit back and enjoy this gem. You'll want to get up and dance as soon as you listen to the track. The song is sexy and pegajosa and proves that Calle 13 is really one of the best groups out there. The collaboration is perfect and makes the whole CD worth your money.

Addicted To You
Shakira tries to incorporate bilingual lyrics, a very 70's chorus and Copacabana sounds that make the song a weird combination of Miami Sound Machine and Waka Waka Shakira. The cheap keyboard that drives the tune reminds us of music played at weddings and quinceañeras. By the way, the whole song is in Spanish with only the title in English.

Lo Que Mas
The song is a relief after listening to Addicted to You. The piano and cello flow perfectly right over Shakira's controlled voice. At this point, we are not sure what type of album Shakira intended on doing. It's a got a little bit of everything. The problem is that not all the bits are good.

Mariposas
Good song in the Que Me Quedes Tu category. It's got a catchy chorus that almost makes us forget about Addicted To You and Rabiosa.

Rabiosa
I didn't think it could have been possible but Shakira managed to do a cheaper version of Loca on the same album. At least the Spanish version isn't as bad as the English version.

Devocion
This song rounds like it belongs in She Wolf. I wouldn't be surprised if it was cut from that album and recycled for this one. This song is right afer Rabiosa. The two songs are so different from each other that they just sound like they don't belong in the same album. Devocion is a techno-electro tune that has nothing to do with the Merengue heavy Rabiosa.

Islands
Islands is a cover from The XX, one of our favorite groups today, and although Shakira does a decent job, it's just another cover. It has nothing new or different from the original. I heard Shakira's live version a few months back and was excited to see how they might influence her work on Sale El Sol.

Tu boca
You can tell this is the result from Shakira's obsession with The XX. The song is Shakira's attempt at bringing the eclectic sound of the British band to mainstream Spanish radio, but somehow the lyrics work better in English in this genre of music. Tu Boca just does not work lyrically since it has a hard time making sense at all. Still, kudos to Shakira for trying.

Waka Waka (Esto es Africa) K-Mix
I really disliked this song when it came out. The album includes two different versions of Waka Waka. Again, the song itself is not good but the remixes here make them at least bearable. The second includes a nice guitar melody that if paired with different lyrics could become a nice song.

Loca (English Version featuring Dizee Rascal)
It's good but the Spanish version is superior. Just like She Wolf, it's really hard to understand the lyrics and El Cata isWAY better than Dizze Rascal.

Rabiosa (English Version Featuring Pitbull)
Again, the Spanish version is WAY better. El Cata does a good job here as well. And quite honestly, after Enrique's I Like It, Pitbul needs to come up with a new scream and style already. He's good at what he does but that doesn't mean he has to be on every album.

So there you go. As always, there will be some that will love Sale El Sol no matter what but I still believe that a true fan will distinguish between good and bad Shakira. This album has both. My best advice, put only the good ones on your iPod and you will fall in love with her music again.

Terra USA/Carlos Macias