It's been nearly four years since Shakira released an album, and in that time, the Columbian pop singer has experienced a number of personal and professional changes -- ones that are evident on her 10th studio record.
By the time she released her last album, 2010's "Sale el Sol," Shakira was a renowned global sensation in music, amassing numerous hits over the span of a decade that included "Whenever, Wherever," "Hips Don't Lie," "She Wolf" and the World Cup-assisted hit "Waka Waka."
With her continued success as an artist came success in her personal life, as she began dating Spanish football player Gerard Pique and later welcomed their first son together, Milan, in January 2013. Additionally, Shakira is serving as a coach on the popular NBC singing competition show "The Voice," where she mentors new artists into achieving the same dream of being a global singing sensation.
On "Shakira," her first self-titled album in her career, the singer blends an array of musical flavors that are familiar to albums of the past, only this time bringing together all in one, eclectic package. Mixing a little bit of dance-pop, Spanish, reggae and rock influences, "Shakira" provides fans with a glimpse into the way she loves, both in her relationship and as a mother.
"Shakira" is currently available for digital download on iTunes. Check out a track-by-track review of the standard edition of the album below.
1. "Dare (La La La)" - The album opens with a straight up electro-pop dance jam. The song describes a scene in which she and a man she finds attractive interact on the dance floor, an attraction neither of them can deny. Lyrics for the song include, "Is it true that you love me / I dare you to kiss me." Reminiscent of past electro-pop hits like "Give It Up to Me," the song has a grimy, sweltering feel to it that will make it a favorite among global club-goers.
2. "Can't Remember to Forget You" featuring Rihanna - Released as the album's first single, Shakira trades verses with fellow pop diva Rihanna in what can only be describes as one of the hottest female collaborations in recent years. The two sing about a man that caused them trouble in the past, but despite all the turmoil, they can't shake him no matter how hard they try. The song touches on influences both singers are known for, by incorporating reggae-sounding tinges in the up-tempo track. In addition to having a sexy music video, the song is a standout on the album.
3. "Empire" - Shakira begins the song with raw vocals over a piano, showcasing her truly unique vocal abilities. The song's slow first verse builds to a strong, loud stadium rock-sounding power ballad, which finds the singer channeling Coldplay-style vocal effects. Lyrically, the song is about two people who have an attraction so strong and so profound, that they are like two empires forming as one. The song is special for its live capabilities, one that can be stripped down and one that will make for memorable stadium-wide sing-alongs.
4. "You Don't Care About Me" - Shakira may be in love in real life, but she's not afraid to call out a lover who wronged her in the past. The song describes a relationship in which her lover won't let her go, despite her making it clear things were not working out. Lyrics for the song include, "Before you came along it was all beautiful / I have nothing left in my heart, in my soul / Should have never helped you become so powerful / But I saw a champion in your eyes." While it is not a standout track on the album, the song is a necessary layer to the album overall.
5. "Cut Me Deep" featuring MAGIC! - In one of the album's more obvious reggae-influenced tracks, Shakira sings about a relationship that was so strong that it has left both parties scared and deeply changed. The song is reminiscent of sounds perfected by No Doubt in their early years, making the song part nostalgic for the song while maintaining a current, eclectic vibe to it. By including the reggae band MAGIC! on the track, "Cut Me Deep" has a true authenticity to it the other reggae-sounding pop songs don't have, making it a standout on the album.
6. "Spotlight" - Channeling her inner Avril Lavigne with a blend of electro-pop and rock, Shakira sings about not giving up her feelings of love for a particular person. Lyrics for the song include, "Here is my life in the spotlight / And it's hurting my eyes 'cause it's so bright / But you are the thing I was missing, that I couldn't find / And I wouldn't give up even if I end up blind." When stacked up against prior tracks on the album, this mid-way track perfectly gives listeners a look at just how varied the sounds are on the record.
7. "Broken Record" - In another song that showcases her unique vocals, Shakira sings about reaffirming someone she loves of her affection, having said so "700 times." Taking on a more stripped down, acoustic feel, the song is perhaps one of the most relatable on the album, as she tackles the topic of insecurities that go unspoken in a relationship. Unlike many of her contemporaries, when Shakira does acoustic, she sounds sincere and genuine in both her vision of the song and the delivery. For its candor and stripped down arrangement, the song is a standout on the album.
8. "Medicine" featuring Blake Shelton - Things get a little bit country when Shakira teams up with her sparring partner on "The Voice," country superstar Blake Shelton. The song, which uses love as a metaphor for medicine, the two use drinking analogies for coping with pain, with Shakira singing, "I reach for the bottle of whiskey," while Shelton replies, "Straight, on the rocks." Fans of "The Voice" will find the lyric amusing, considering Shakira constantly pokes fun at Shelton's love for drinking on the show. Shakira's voice lends well to the country-inspired track, and it's nice to hear the two singers not "fighting" for once.
9. "23" - Shakira sings about falling in love on this track, possibly about her boyfriend Gerard Pique. Lyrically, the song describes a time when the singer didn't think love was possible, until she met the man of her dreams. She sings, "A couple years ago I was lonely / I used to think that there was no God / But then you looked at me with your blue eyes / And my agnosticism turned into dust." It should be noted that Pique has blue eyes and met Shakira around the time he was 23. The song is a special peek into her personal life, and even features a special shout from her and Pique's son, Milan.
10. "The One Thing" - In the album's final English track, Shakira sings about the unexplainable love she has for her son Milan. Lyrics include, "You are the one thing that I got right / It's a fickle world, it's a fickle world / You turned the darkness into sunlight / I'm a lucky girl, yeah I'm a lucky girl." Pop stars who become mothers will often sing about how their new baby has changed their life in a unique way, in many ways to be able to relate with their growing fans. Shakira does this with charm and light, all the while giving fans an opportunity to dance.
11. "Nunca Me Acuerdo de Olvidarte" - As the Spanish version of "Can't Remember To Forget You," Shakira takes full command of the vocals, giving the already cool and sexy song new life. The singer will often releases Spanish versions of her popular English hits, showing truly how versatile her appeal is across the world.
12. "Loca por Ti" - In the album's Spanish closing number, Shakira singing about being crazy for the person she loves and drinking to love in a celebratory manner. With one final ode to love on an album that also explores lust, loss and regret, Shakira appears to have come full circle in her quest for love. As a mother, partner and performer, Shakira exudes a confidence with a softness that makes her stand out among her contemporaries, but in a non-threatening way that allows her fans to feel personally connected to her on-stage and off.