Laundry Service - Shakira

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Laundry Service - Shakira

1 CD(s) - Latin, Rock En Espanol - Label: Epic - Distributor: Sony Music/Arvato Services - Released: 11/11/2002, 11/03/2002 - 5099749872059, 509974987...

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Review of "Laundry Service - Shakira"

published 29/07/2002 | wampyrii
Member since : 30/11/-0001
Reviews : 772
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Pro See review, too many to list
Cons Aimed more at the pop market, may disappoint older fans, a few filler tracks
very helpful

"Laundry Service Leaves Latin-Pop Smelling Of Roses"

A friend introduced me to Shakira's music around 4 years ago after finding Latin artists such as Gloria Estefan and Elvis Crespo lurking amongst my CD collection and told me then that one day this girl would be a huge international star if she ever released an English language album. With multi-platinum music sales across Latin America and Spain it was arguable that she was pretty big already before the release of the mainly English language Laundry Service in 2001 really catapulted her almost uncategorisable, very distinct brand of Latin-pop cross-over onto the global market. The golden locked Colombian?s music draws from numerous influences and by her own admission this former child musical prodigy (who released her first million selling album aged just 13 years old) tries to incorporate as many of those styles as possible onto her albums which makes her very difficult to pigeon hole. Shakira's roots are certainly Colombian, but she grew up listening to rock bands like Nirvana, Led Zeppelin and The Cure and through having a father with Lebanese roots she also picked up a taste for Arabic musical culture and the fusion of all these elements and more can be easily seen within her music.

It is perhaps this cultural fusion which I love so much, as her albums are always very varied in style, Laundry Service itself being no different with bluesy tracks, mixing it with Latin rump-shakers, a little country, mournful or just plain balls-out electric guitars, Andes pan pipes and even an Arabic belly dancing track and many more all making their way onto this album and all the while Shakira's sumptuous vocals and disjoint poetic lyricism running throughout. Laundry Service itself might not be the best album she has produced, it's certainly aimed more at the pop charts than her previous rockier albums and the lyrics are a little 'strange' but it's a starting place for the English speaking world who would otherwise refuse to give her Spanish albums a chance - more fool you all, because you are missing out on some stunning music through your close-mindedness.

Those who have tried to categorise Shakira, and there are always some, have tried to label her as the "Latin Alanis" (Morisette), which is an interesting idea and indeed her voice does sound scarily similar at times, but serves to do little but give the uninitiated misconceptions about what Shakira's music is all about. One myth it might dispel is the false impression you are looking at little more than yet another Christina Aguillera/Britney Spears style teenie bopper which has spread through some odd advertising on these shores because rest assured she is far more talented than that and at heart, she is definitely a rocker, not a pop-queen. However, aside from vocal similarities and a passing similarity in musical style there is little more to compare the two as Shakira's music is far more positive and I would say more mature in outlook than Alanis Morisette's has even been or probably ever will be. Shakira herself rejects categorisation or comparison to other artists, even Madonna, insisting she has "a unique musical proposal" and with the blend and fusion of styles on her albums you'd be hard pressed to argue.

Shakira is better suited to writing and singing in her native Spanish language rather than the English which makes up most of Laundry Service which can easily be seen when you listen to the difference between the two tracks which are included her in both English and Spanish. Singing in English Shakira's voice seems somewhat muted, strained and distinctly less expressive which I suppose is not too surprising with all things considered - she hasn't been learning English for very long for one thing! There are a few good tracks on here, but there's also a number of what can best be described as pop fillers which is not a criticism I would have levelled at her previous albums which were full of uniformly strong tracks throughout. Equally, whilst still lyrically strong, Laundry Service does seem to suffer slightly through the language difficulties and her voice is nowhere near as expressive as it is on her Spanish language albums - of which there are FOUR and not ONE as some of the music press have been mistakenly reporting. Just to give you some idea of the difficulties caused by the language barrier here, apparently Shakira wrote it whilst leaning very heavily on an English rhyming dictionary and for such an expressive singer it's difficult when, to paraphrase the lady herself, she is able to 'think' in English quite easily, but she 'feels' *only* in Spanish. Consequently, the lyrics often take on a curiously quirky feel and their delivery often doesn't sound quite so sincere as the Spanish tracks. Gloria Estefan is also said to have over-seen and proof-read many of the songs as well whilst Shakira is usually very jealous of her music and she even co-wrote the hit single "Whenever, Wherever" with her.

Laundry Service is an oddly titled album, but apparently is so named she says because she "went through a stage when [she] felt cleansed, renewed, thanks to love and music, which are like soap and water" so we'll forgive her. The UK release of Laundry Service opens with "Objection Tango" and closes with erm, "Objection (Tango)" again but in Spanish (Te Aviso, Te Anuncio(Tango)) which is a bit of a nuisance if you have the album on continuous play because you get to listen to the same track back to back. It also serves to illustrate (and underline by proximity) once more just how much more impressive and expressive the tracks on this album would have been were they sung in Shakira's native Spanish, but ahh well. Maybe it's a clever marketing ploy to get you to see this and buy her Spanish albums. Objection (Tango)/Te Aviso Te Anuncio (Tango) also features a very different lyrical content in both songs, both are about being part of a love triangle, whilst the English version almost trivialises it as "ooh I'm so jealous", the Spanish version speaks volumes of the pain and sadness of love betrayed. Remember, she can think in English, but only truly feels in Spanish - this song is the perfect illustration of her words.

Track 2, "Underneath Your Clothes" is the second single from the album (so I'm told, I never pay attention to the Singles Charts) and is a much slower track than the majority of those on the album but serves to prove that not only can she do the pop-tastic Latin influenced rump-shakers which most of this album comprises of, but also the heartfelt ballads as well. Most of Shakira's music is inspired by love and relationships and the emotions surrounding both but this and the rock ballad "The One", which almost feels like she's jamming with Aerosmith when the mournful electric guitar kicks in, are the most heartfelt tracks on the album and the songs for lovers. The lyrics of "Underneath your Clothes" are a little odd to be fair with their talk of "territory" sounding more like 'possession' than 'love' (language problems again I assume) but "The One" is a song which anyone who has ever been in love can understand and appreciate.

If you can stomach some of the over-kill airplay the track "Whenever, Wherever" (track 3, co-written with Gloria Estefan) has received then it's another highlight from the album, but better once more in the original Spanish language as "Suerte" (Lucky) which also features on the album and has far more expressive lyrics...if you can understand them. "Whenever, Wherever" is a very danceable track and one of those which is guaranteed to get it's hooks into your mind so you find yourself unexpectedly humming it to yourself whether you like it or not! Shakira's Latin roots shine through here with Andean pan pipes accompanying the up-tempo backing and I defy anyone not to find their hips involuntarily swivelling to this one...or rushing to switch it off if MTV has killed it for you of course ;o)

The next good track comes in the form of "Rules", a song about jealousy and possessiveness - "Use your eyes/only to look at me/use you lips/only to kiss my mouth....don't forget that you're condemned to me". This is pure pop, up-tempo and with a good chorus hook, but ultimately just fluff...albeit good fluff. Far from being pop fluff comes the next good 'un, "Fool" which is the kind of track which adds fuel to the "Latin Alanis" argument. Lyrically, it's a song about being constantly hurt in a bad relationship and the heavy guitar hook in the chorus and Shakira's voice makes it a track which wouldn't sound too out of place on an Alanis album, which for me can only be a good thing. "Fool" is the kind of track you'll find on Shakira's previous albums when you take my advice and check them out... ;o)

The weakest tracks on the album are the disco inspired track 6 "Ready For The Good Times", which is incredibly cheesy and sounds a little like a Madonna B-side from the 80s but you can't win 'em all and Track 8 "Te Deja Madrid" which is a little too erm...'Eurovision' for my liking to be honest. It's not that either of these are really awful tracks and I suppose "Ready For The Good Times" is the kind of up-tempo, brainless sing-a-long track girls might play whilst slapping on the war paint before a night out clubbing but if you understand what I mean by the term "filler" then you'll understand my problem with these two tracks. The Spanish language track "Que Me Quedas Tu" is also quite weak musically and hides it's true beauty which is in the ballad's lyrics being the language barrier, so unless you hunt out the meaning you'll also see this one as quite uninspired, whilst "Poem To A Horse" is a good rock track (and another with an Alanis feel to it) but lyrically seems to be about a guy who is so vain you may as well read a poem to a horse than expect attention from him...maybe it's a well known Colombian phrase, but it just makes me giggle.

Most disappointing for me I suppose is that more could not have been made of the English language version of Ojos Asis (my favourite of all Shakira's tracks), a collaboration with Arabic singer Amr Diab (check him out too if you're musical tastes are broad enough), in which Shakira's voice is not only weak, but her English poor to the point of almost stumbling through some quick-fire lyrics. Her father's Arabic influences shine through here in what is the only Arab/pop/Latin/belly dancing/biblical inspired track I can think of ever being made! Lyrically it's lame and different to the Spanish translation, musically it rocks, but it completely lacks the attitude of the original which is quite criminal. This track should never have been a "filler" but it most certainly is. Shame.

All things considered there are enough good tracks on this album to make a purchase worthwhile. There are tracks you can sing along to, tracks for lovers, ones to shake your booty to and a few chart friendly hits to allow Shakira to take full advantage of the Latin pop revolution which is still in full swing. This is certainly an album aimed more at the mainstream pop market than her previous albums which have been more influenced by her Latin roots and rock music tastes (the latter is almost non-existent here as an influence I might add, and you certainly won't see any of the childhood influences like Iggy Pop she often cites here that's for sure) and older fans might find that just a little disappointing. Of course, most of the English speaking world wouldn't have known of a diminutive dark hairdo Latino artist called Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll before Laundry Service was played to death over the airwaves so just purchase it, sit back and enjoy your ignorance....then do yourself a favour and buy the much better "Donde Estan Los Ladrones?" when you've got hooked and hope the fling with the teenie pop charts is just a passing one.

Links & Further Info.


Laundry Service track listing

1) Objection (Tango)
2) Underneath Your Clothes
3) Whenever, Wherever
4) Rules
5) The One
6) Ready For The Good Times
7) Fool
8) Te Dejo Madrid
9) Poem To A Horse
10) Que Me Quedes Tu
11) Eyes Like Yours (Ojos Asi)
12) Suerte (Whenever, Wherever)
13) Te Aviso, Te Anuncio (Tango)


· Official Site:

http://www.shakira.com

· Lyric Translations:

http://www.allshakira.com/Lyrics.php

· Purchasing Recommendation:

£8.99 from CDWOW (http://www.cdwow.com)

· Album Discography:

Laundry Service (2001)
MTV Unplugged (2000)
Donde Estan Los Ladrones? (1998) (Where Are The Thieves?)
The Remixes (1997)
Pies Descalzos (1996) (Naked Feet)
Peligro (1993) (Danger)
Magia (1991) (Magic)


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Comments on this review

  • Perfection published 21/09/2002
    I LOVE that title. ;o)
  • zorena published 02/08/2002
    I love this album. EXCELLENT DETAILED OPINION. Take care Zoe xx
  • Sean_lawston published 02/08/2002
    I have to buy the Coral's album today, but this one is definitely on my list for the next time I have a spare tenner. My penfriend used to send me mix tapes of French and Spanish language music, and I've only recently discovered that there are several old Shakira songs on those..
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Manufacturer's product description

1 CD(s) - Latin, Rock En Espanol - Label: Epic - Distributor: Sony Music/Arvato Services - Released: 11/11/2002, 11/03/2002 - 5099749872059, 5099749872028

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EAN: 5099749872059, 5099749872028

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