By Akshay Bhansali
Shakira first impressed me with her Bollywood-inspired rendition of "Hips Don't Lie" at the 2006 Video Music Awards. Sure, she's always exemplified what it means to be a truly global superstar, dabbling in urban and folk sounds from the Americas to the Middle East and Asia. But I'm South-Asian, and for the occasion she hired India's famed cinema choreographer and director Farah Khan to help her prepare and plan her VMA number. It indicated an intention to do something truly honest.
Honesty and instinct seem to be at her core. At some point early this week, instinct drove her to make a hair change, as we saw on Tuesday when a soft-dread-locked Shakira strode into our newsroom in Times Square. Apparently, something just clicked and she felt like going with dreads, almost mirroring something she said to me back in July. "I just woke up and felt like using a blow dryer," said a more straight-haired, lighter-blonde Ms. Mubarak.
Jim Cantiello, Rya Backer and I enjoyed our time with the ever delightful star from Barranquilla, Colombia, who had a nice long half-hour chat with Jim.
What fun little personal tidbits did we gather from our time with Shakira? A glass of wine brings out her inner she wolf. Just one, though. A second and she's asleep. She describes herself as a "nocturnal creature" (no shock there, really), and if she must rise in the morning, let her begin that day with Arepas and café con leche. She lives next to Matt Damon in Miami, and his last name rhymed with a lyric she wrote for "Men in This Town," which is how Jason Bourne made his way onto She Wolf. The video for "Did it Again," with all of its synchronized bed-wrestling, was physically demanding, inflicting muscle pulls and bruises. She hates the vocal booth in recording studios, and has devised a way to record vocals while being in any given studio's main room so that she can really hear the music. Though she has met Lil Wayne once in the Caribbean, his vocals were recorded in true Wayne fashion: remotely. And finally, these days she's listening to Pete Yorn, Crystal Castles and MGMT, thanks to suggestions from producer and album collaborator John Hill.