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A Rolex for a Casio: Why Shakira's new song is breaking records

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Shakira is back. And on her new song, she is proudly single.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BZRP MUSIC SESSIONS, VOL. 53")

SHAKIRA: (Singing in Spanish).

CHANG: All right. This is a full-on diss track aimed at her ex, a retired Spanish soccer star. The single went straight to the top of Spotify's top 50 global chart. It hit 100 million views on YouTube in just under three days. NPR's Isabella Gomez Sarmiento is here to explain what this has all been about. Hello.

ISABELLA GOMEZ SARMIENTO, BYLINE: Hi. Thank you for having me.

CHANG: Thanks for being with us. OK, exactly - you know, just explain, like, why this song is making such waves right now.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Yeah. So Shakira's last album came out in 2017. We haven't heard a ton of music from her over the years. She released two singles last year, but she is kicking 2023 into high gear. So this is a very - you know, this EDM house sound is kind of a departure from the Latin fusion vibes that we might be more familiar with, like, you know, "Hips Don't Lie" or even the electro-pop sounds of "She Wolf."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHE WOLF")

SHAKIRA: (Singing) There's a she-wolf in the closet. Open up and set it free.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Yeah, but this new sound, I think, we can really credit Bizarrap for - the Argentine producer. This is part of his YouTube series of collaborations with both emerging and high-profile artists. And, you know, he is only 24, but he consistently produces hits.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BZRP MUSIC SESSIONS, VOL. 53")

SHAKIRA: (Singing) Sorry, baby, I said (singing in Spanish).

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: So working with him is a really good way for Shakira to put herself back on the map after all this time away.

CHANG: Yeah. And can we just be, like, really explicit about this? This is all aimed directly at Gerard Pique. He and Shakira announced their split last summer after more than a decade together. They have two children. But what it feels like right now, at least publicly, Shakira is trying to say, like, look. I'm not broken. This did not break me. Like, is that a fair way to characterize what she is saying right now?

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Oh, absolutely. I mean, this is a song where she's reclaiming her worth after a relationship that, you know, did not end well. It stings even more because she's said publicly that she kind of put her career on the backburner to support him and his and - you know, and their family together. So she's fully roasting him on this track. She name-drops him. She name-drops his rumored new girlfriend. You know, she says she's out of his league, and he traded a Rolex for a Casio. Let's listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BZRP MUSIC SESSIONS, VOL. 53")

SHAKIRA: (Singing in Spanish).

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: She's saying, "You left me with my mother-in-law in law as my neighbor, with the press at my door and a debt with the treasury," which is literally alluding to her pending trial for tax fraud in Spain...

CHANG: Right.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: ...And then just the most killer line.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BZRP MUSIC SESSIONS, VOL. 53")

SHAKIRA: (Singing in Spanish).

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: "You thought you hurt me, but you made me stronger. Women don't cry anymore. Women make money."

CHANG: That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: You know, she's just literally cashing in on this really painful breakup, and she's using a great song to do so.

CHANG: All right. Like, I'm happy for her. But I am curious - is this, like, taking aim thing - like, is this a new thing for Shakira?

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Actually, kind of not at all. I mean, she became a star in Latin America in the '90s with these really biting, heartbroken songs. One of my favorite examples is "Si Te Vas" from her 1998 album, "Donde Estan Los Ladrones?"

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SI TE VAS")

SHAKIRA: (Singing in Spanish).

CHANG: I have always loved this song, but I've never understood the lyrics.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: It's pretty savage. She's literally saying to her boyfriend that, if he leaves her, he will regret it and that he should not, you know, exchange her for pedazo de cuero. It's kind of a derogatory term that means a promiscuous woman. I mean, you know, she's always been pretty savage in her attacks.

CHANG: Uh-huh.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: It's really just the new song that has a new sound behind it.

CHANG: I love it. That is NPR's Isabella Gomez Sarmiento. Thank you so much.

GOMEZ SARMIENTO: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SI TE VAS")

SHAKIRA: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Isabella Gomez Sarmiento is a production assistant with Weekend Edition.
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