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Shakira - 'Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:32 UK time, Saturday, 19 June 2010


The internet has been a fascinating breeding ground for all sorts of new etiquette problems; from flame wars to trolling; and from Facebook flirting to people pretending to be their own friends on messenger, as a prank. It's an emotional minefield out there.

One of the most bizarre, in terms of how people choose to get together and get along, is the strange relationships that tend to grow out of web communities. These can be found in any website where people regularly post their thoughts, and they can coalesce around any topic. Over time, with regular interaction, these communities can grow to be become mutually supportive, friendly, welcoming places where people treat each other with a kind of easy, mocking respect. The hardcore regulars become web-peers, and start to value each other more than they do the fly-by night one-post wonders, or the newbies ("n00b! n00b!" etc...)

Eventually, if allowed to flourish unchecked, the community can start to erect walls around itself. Each new person who puts up a message will need to be vetted by the group, some will speak for, some against, and they'll be expected to fight their corner if they want to stick around.

I mention all of this because sometimes I find myself acting like a forum-snob over chart-bound songs which only exist to promote some event which exists outside of the music itself.

I'm not proud of this, but there we are.

(Here's the video. It's exactly what you'd expect it to be.)

It all depends whether the song stands on it's own two feet, or just points at the thing it exists to celebrate and jumps up and down. Luckily for me and my pompostular gland, this welds pretty, undulating African guitars to a clod-hopping, skippy township beat, with Shakira singing about an undisclosed event which is about to happen for Africa, in which everyone gets together and enjoys the fruits of their hard work, even though there have been many hardships along the way.

It could just as easily be about a global effort to build water-pipes in the worst drought-ridden areas of the continental land-mass as the World Cup. So it feels like a community sort of song, rather than a song about kicking a ball and beating an opponent. Granted it's a bit flyaway compared to K'naan's more stately effort, but both songs work as songs as well as mementoes of a sporting tournament.

So it would take a hard heart indeed to sniff at it and moan that it's just a novelty song and doesn't deserve the full attention that something by the Killers would get.

Or at least, a harder heart than mine.

Four starsDownload: Out now

BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

BSC Review says: "I only wish they didn't flash so much to all that jogging around a football field and instead focused on the always welcome visage of the Colombian singer,."

Digital Spy says: "FIFA just couldn't resist the distinctively goat-like vocals."

Gather.com says: "[Waka Waka] is a great blend of pop and drums with a dash of sassy sauciness."

PS: Is anyone impressed that I managed to get through all of that without mentining Fozzie Bear? I am.



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