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Shakira ft. Dizzee Rascal - 'Loca'

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Fraser McAlpine | 12:23 UK time, Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Shakira

A confession: I'm not sure if I would recognise a bad Shakira song if it came along and introduced itself, wearing a name-badge and announced that it was following me on Twitter, user name @badshakirasong. I could offer a thought about whether I like it or not, I could have a go at pointing out the bits which do not quite work (like the "awoo" in 'She Wolf'), but I get the sense that the success (or otherwise) of her best and worst work is based on a series of criteria which are very different to those used to judge other music, some of which I'm only dimly aware of.

Or, to put it another way, when she's good, it is sometimes by doing things which would be considered bad coming from other pop stars.

I mean listen to that chorus. The "loca loca loww-ca" bit - or "loba loba", depending on translation - which she delivers with the same deep and trembly seriousness as the "waka waka" in her world cup song. I mean, c'mon, let's face it...that's a bit mad, isn't it? A little too crackers?

But at the same time, it's kind of great. Or is it? I can't tell.

(Here's the video. It's wheely, wheely good.)

I mean yes, it's the kind of slightly unhinged, but massively sugary thing that only Shakira seems to be able to get away with. Lady Gaga and Cheryl Cole might have their own glassy-eyed chants, but they're delivered with high gothic camp - drama and comedy rolled together in a self-aware, tongue-in-cheek way. Shakira's chants are different because they're warmer, nicer. She really means it.

And that's basically fine when you're in Shakiraworld, which is a lot like Hogwarts or Narnia. Stuff happens there which does not make sense in our reality. But it's a beguiling spectacle nonetheless, and it's a version of reality which we would LIKE to exist, it's lovely to have a little wallow in it. The trick is to avoid getting so smitten with it, you find yourself donning wizard's robes and heading out into the back garden to play a game of Quidditch.

Enter Dizzee Rascal. The voice of reality; the pin to Shakey's balloon. His guest verse begins with "that girl is a nutter", because that is what the song is about. But it's also what listening to Shakira is like.

OK, so he then goes on to ramble a verse out in which he seeks to step through the back of the wardrobe and join in the fun. It's all good, he's up for a bit of crazy in his life, it's an honour to be asked (he doesn't really say that, but that's what he means). He may as well be shouting "whee! Look at me! I'm on a broomstick!" for all the good it does.

Meanwhile Shakira, who has possibly never met Dizzee Rascal, just dances off into the sunset, surrounded by a cloud of dancing pixie-wolves in tutus and galoshes.

Four stars Download: Out now

www.shakira.com
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

PS: Someone needs to do a 'Newport State Of Mind'-style parody of this, and call it 'Local'...

Club Fonogramma says: "We all know her English-language are as meaningful as a hipster's scarf"

Accidental Sexiness says: "Who knew that when you combine salsa beats and lyrics by British rapper Dizzee Rascal you would get a masterpiece?"

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