Once the Spanish queen of pop, the release of Shakira’s debut album Magia in 1991 was the beginning of a magical career. Having that distinct sound and Latina beauty, she quickly became one of the worlds most distinguished and captivating artists. Achieving success as she embarked on a more mainstream path, she hasn’t had a worldwide hit since 2014’s “Can’t Remember to Forget You” . Nonetheless, reverting to her origins, the Colombian superstar has returned with her predominantly Spanish 11th studio album.
With her captivating vocal tones and iconic hip swiveling beats Shakira is not capable of creating a disappointing album and El Dorado most certainly does not disappoint. She packs this album full with intriguing collaborations, including Prince Royce on “Deja Vu”, Muluma on the groovy “Chantaje” and Carols Vives, who expresses his exultant voice on “La Bicicleta”. These combine to give that recognizable flare commonly found in Shakira’s albums.
Hooking the audience straight away is the introductory track “Me Enamore”. Simple guitar strums lead the song as Shakira’s alluring Spanish vocals follow. Foot tapping drum rhythms and a sprightly synthesized beat allows the melody to gradually evolve into an upbeat, reggae inspired tune. Becoming intrigued as to what the lyrics mean, I constantly wish for an English version, however the mystery behind it all is one of the many reasons this song is so enchanting. A great way to present a newly revitalized musical direction.
“Chantaje”, which was released as Shakira’s ‘comeback’ single, radiates seduction. The song gives off a reggae vibe as the rhythmic beat kicks in and the combination of guest singer Maluma’s sensual male tones with Shakira’s entrancing female voice make for an infatuating and passionate creation. Although, as the melody continues, towards the end of the song it does become frustratingly repetitive, with a little something to boost the energy and keep it flowing this song would be one of the favorites appearing on El Dorado.
A worthy international hit contender is “When a Woman”. Not only does the ability to understand the English lyrics make this song catchier, the modernized, buoyant sound attracts attention and you can’t help but hit that replay button. The intensity of Shakira’s authentic voice and constant hooks throughout is a continuous reminder that this song is far from boring, co-written by Julia Michaels and Justin Trent, it has the potential to become a major summer tune. It is unquestionably the most favorable song of the album.
Taking a calmer approach, “Coconut Tree” explores a Hawaiian like sound, making you ponder what life would be like lying under the relaxing beam of the sun, palm trees all around and the sultry sound of Shakira’s soothing tones in your ears. Another slowed down piece comes with the ballad “Nada”, closing the eyes and drifting away with the powerful up and down Spanish tones and soaring chorus makes for another beautifully composed track.
Although we may not be 100% clear on the meanings of each song, the compositional techniques emotionally connect the listener and Shakira, from floor stomping, hip shaking hits to moving, heart warming ballads, El Dorado has everything. Although there are occasional blunders, namely with the repetitive “Déjà vu” and “Chanteja”’s monotonous ending, this is an album which carries you to places you could only dream of visiting. Shakira is most certainly back and she’s come back with a notably big bang.