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Shakira - 'Gypsy'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:28 UK time, Wednesday, 7 April 2010


In some ways it's too easy to poke fun at the lyrics to Shakira songs. English isn't her first language - she speaks four, apparently - and cultural idioms are different from country to country in any case. That said, there's an interesting moment in the chorus which could stand a closer look:

"I'm a gypsy, are you coming with me?
I might steal your clothes and wear them if they fit me"

And that's what people of Romany extraction do, is it? Steal clothes? Chu-HARM-ing.

(Can't show you the video. It's got adverts)

Anyway, accidental slurs aside, this is rather charming, isn't it? Sparkling mandolins, gently-strummed guitars and tabla drums in the verses, with the addition of snakey bowed instruments and castanets in the chorus. Then there's some extra handclaps later on, and a harp breakdown.

It's like a trip around the musical world, incorporating elements of bluegrass, flamenco and raga. And it suits Shaky's sobbing warble beautifully.

What really makes it fly is that it manages to be at one and the same time conservative acoustic music which some people would describe as 'real', and radical exotic world music which some people would describe as 'worthy'. But as it all hangs on Shakira's unique personality, charm and, yes, strange way with words, it just sort of magically works. It is, in fact,what I would describe as 'not boring'.

Whether that makes it a hit record or not is a whole other question. But I'm smitten.

Four starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: April 12th
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)



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