For nearly two decades now, either due to her multinational leanings (the Colombian's music is as indebted to Latin American rhythms as it is to Arabic dance, Euro disco and red-white-and-blue rock) or because she is sort of insane (see last year's She Wolf album), Shakira has managed to carve out her own, rather indefinable niche in pop music.
On Wednesday (September 29), she premiered the video for "Loca," the first single off her upcoming Sale el Sol album (due October 19). And while it's not exactly a unique artistic endeavor — it echoes sentiments already expressed by the likes of Matt & Kim (in their "Lessons Learned" clip) and Erykah Badu (in her firestormy "Window Seat" vid) — it's still undoubtedly her ... mostly because none of her high-gloss pop contemporaries would ever dare attempt something like it.
Shot run-and-gun style in Barcelona, "Loca" follows Shakira and her crew — which includes a few cameramen and, somewhat improbably, British rapper Dizzee Rascal — on a madcap adventure that includes roller-skating, public wardrobe changes, motorcycle cruising, an illicit hop in a public fountain (a move that landed her in hot, uh, water with local authorities) and, of course, plenty of hip shaking. It's a decidedly guerrilla endeavor that appears to have been done on a budget hovering around zero (aside from a performance scene, the entire thing appears to have been shot on handheld cameras). The Britneys, Beyoncés and Gagas would probably never make something like this ... and yet, here it works, mostly because, well, it just sort of seems like the kind of thing Shakira would do.
For that alone, she deserves to be praised. Because unlike Matt & Kim (or Erykah Badu, really), Shakira has plenty to lose. Her albums are big events, things that resonate across continents, and it would be rather easy (or, at least, expected) for her to come out of the gate with a big-budget, glossy pop video. Instead, we get "Loca," which is none of those things, and is probably better because of that.
And though it features some near-nudity and some illegal activity, the thing that resonates most about the "Loca" video is that none of that bad behavior is played up for shock value. Instead, it all helps match the kinetic, herky-jerky energy of the song itself. "Loca" is the rare video that doesn't attempt to outshine the song it's based on. Instead, it complements it. This is a very lively song, after all, so what better way to capture that than with a very lively video?
There's a calculated madness to the "Loca" video, a vibrant, unchained energy, the kind very few artists can conjure up, no matter how big the budget. And, come to think of it, that's a pretty accurate way of summing up Shakira's entire career. It's called synergy, people.
What do you think of Shakira's "Loca" video? Share your reviews in the comments.