Shakira - 'Did It Again'
One of the most reassuring things about a new Shakira song is that she's reliably eccentric when it comes to her lyrics. We've all got our favourite examples, haven't we? And while 'Did It Again' is admittedly no 'She Wolf' (the line "darling it is no joke, this is lycanthropy" is one of my pop highlights of the year), it's good to see that even when tackling more conventional subjects like no-good men, Shakira still makes an effort to approach the whole subject a bit differently.
Or at least, I assume it's an effort. It might just be what she is like...
(Here's the video. It features scenes of extreme dance-fighting. Or possibly synchronised smooch-nastics, I'm not sure.)
The first verse in particular paints a really clear picture, taking the time to create a sense of tension that's almost like a rapid heartbeat or a load of anxious, disjointed emotions ("first floor, room 16. Smells like danger, even better") and that's matched conveniently enough in Shakira's delivery, which is breathy and nervous while still maintaining hints of her trademark yodel.
From there it all erupts into an overexcited stream of thoughts delivered in a scattergun jibber, shooting out so rapidly that we barely even get a chance to register them - which fits perfectly with the atmosphere and intensity she built up in the previous section. Very clever, Shaky, very clever indeed.
Obviously the effectiveness of this is going to be limited if there isn't a good chorus to hang it all on, but fortunately she's has come up trumps there too - the refrain of "did it again, love, I got it all wrong" is equal parts mournful and remorseful, and actually has a vulnerability in it that probably won't surprise anyone who remembers 'Underneath Your Clothes'. In short, it's all very affecting.
It all goes a bit weird about halfway through when it unexpectedly turns into a blatant rehash of Whitney Houston's 'It's Not Right, But It's OK' for a short while, but hey, I did say I admired Shakira for her unpredictability, and not all of her surprise turns can be good ideas. But 30 seconds' worth of wrong turn in an otherwise finely-crafted three-and-a-half minutes is still a good deal by my reckoning.