Track of the Day: 'Loca'

Past TracksSongs about youth and dancing have a tendency towards the violent imperative: think about Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" suggestion that we should dance until we die, which sounds pretty sexy until you consider the kinds of situations that generally lead to death on the dance floor--collapsing Mexican discotheque floors, say, or heatstroke in Ivy League lit mag attic parties playing Bar Mitzvah group dance songs, neither of which sound especially appealing (and one of which is cosmically pathetic). Shakira's latest single, "Loca," opens with the warning to "dance, or die" the aggressive tone of which pervades the entire three-and-a-half minutes.

Shakira is a sophisticated songwriter--though her work in English still retains a syntactical awkwardness ("cause the kind of girl like me/they are running out of in the market") that is confusing when not endearing--who is masterful in her ability to teach listeners to be omnivorous consumers of genres, artists, accents, and languages. "Loca" was released in both English and Spanish, the first singles off her upcoming joint release of The Sun Comes Out and Sale el sol.

British phenom Dizzee Rascal raps on the English track and Dominican rapper El Cata sings on the Spanish one. El Cata's presence looms large; "Loca" is a reinterpretation of El Cata's merengue "Loca por su tigre," which is almost unrecognizably different from "Loca" until you listen to the lyrics. El Cata sings about women going crazy for him--not a radically provocative theme for a rapper--but Shakira's Spanish "Loca" claims the swagger and sexual aggression for herself and features a line that stands out as the most explicit in her catalog: El Cata tells her that while the other men wooing her buy her flowers, he knows to just buy condoms. (The English version is decidedly more wholesome.) Risky dancing, indeed.



On iTunes: Shakira / 'Loca'

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Karla Cornejo Villavicencio is a writer and translator based in New York City and Cambridge, MA.

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