In 2001, Shakira went from Latin American superstar to revered musical world power with the release of Laundry Service, her 13x platinum English album, which earned her the title as the biggest Latin female crossover artist in the world. Her career can already boast a string of chart-topping hits in both English and Spanish, career sales of 25 million albums and three Latin Grammy’s including the Best Latin Pop Album Grammy for her acclaimed MTV Unplugged album. And this musical force shows no sign of slowing down. This summer kicks off a new creative era for Shakira as she embarks on her most ambitious undertaking to date - two albums in two different languages. The first release hitting stores June 7th, 2005 is the Spanish language Fijación Oral vol. 1. It will be followed up in November with a brand new English language album Oral Fixation vol. 2. The albums were crafted over the last two years when the prolific songwriter, producer, musician and singer penned dozens of new songs in both English and Spanish. Recognizing there was more material than one album could hold, the two album concept was born. “I did not set out to make two albums when I began the writing process but suddenly I realized I had written sixty songs,” she continued. “Some in English and some in Spanish, and I narrowed that down to 20 songs. Sometimes songs come to me in English and sometimes in Spanish.
Most of the time I let the melody suggest to me the language the song should be. The albums are totally different from one another. Each has unique songs, melodies, lyrics, and music styles.” For the first release, Fijación Oral vol. 1, Shakira takes a long hard look at herself and tries her best to paint an honest portrait of her feelings. “I was on a spiritual search where I thought a lot about life and death,” said Shakira. “These songs narrate my emotions over 1 ½ years. You laugh, cry, complain, fantasize, celebrate. All of these feelings are documented on the songs.” As the album cover of Fijación Oral vol. 1 featuring a modern day interpretation of the Madonna and Child suggests, Shakira is feeding an oral fixation with these songs, “The stage at which human beings are the most orally fixated is the first stage of our lives, which is the most elementary, the most instinctive, and the most primitive,” said. “I think I am still in that stage, the most animalistic, especially at this moment because I feel in touch with the universal woman that we all essentially are.” She explains the concept further, “I have always been fixated on words, Words play a key role in my life, the communication itself…I sing everything I say, and I always end up saying everything I think about.”
Shakira’s lyrics convey that aspect of her complex personality. “The word Oral means more to me than the literal translation. It’s a kiss, the food we eat…even a microphone is oral to me.” The process of crafting the Oral Fixation projects began in her own studio in the Bahamas. Shakira then called in Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slayer) to executive produce the project. “I wanted to have the advice and wisdom of someone who has been the guiding force in so many music projects I respect,” says Shakira. “He’s the musical godfather of the project.” Shakira was joined by some of her regular collaborators, including Lester Mendez and Luis Ochoa. Two of Latin music’s most visible auteurs-- respected songwriter performer Alejandro Sanz and musical icon Gustavo Cerati, leader of Argentine rockers Soda Stereo--were called in for key collaborations. Recorded in her studio as well as The Warehouse in Vancouver, Fijación Oral Vol. 1 at times flirts with lyrics in French and German, netting Shakira even more of an international appeal than ever. The songs on Fijación Oral vol. 1 venture even further into Shakira’s ability to fuse different styles of rock with her varied musical interests, from reggae to bossa nova to French new wave a la Serge Gainsborough.
Sure, her passion for streamlined ‘80s rock that manifested itself so strongly in Laundry Service is here, particularly in “La Pared”, but the sound and feel of the album is more textured, more mature and powerful than ever. Shakira speaks from the soul about matters of the heart affectingly on the French new-wave inspired “En tus Pupiles” and the bossa nova tinged “Obtener un Sí” which is reminiscent of Sinatra 60s track. “I think this is my most eclectic record ever,” said Shakira. “La Tortura” (The Torture) is the album’s first single and it features a guest spot from Alejandro Sanz, who raps onto a dancehall beat. “It’s a kind of hymn to infidelity and doubts and forgiveness,” said Shakira. The two Latin superstars create an exciting chemistry as they sing the parts of a couple in chaos, where the man desperately makes excuses about his transgressions, and begs for understanding. “Oh my love, losing you it is a torture/ I know I haven’t been a saint/ But I can make it up to you,” says the man. To which Shakira counters, “Take that bone to some other dog/ And let’s say goodbye/ I’m not going to cry over you.” “I thought that Alejandro’s voice was exactly what the song needed. His voice is unique, raw and absolutely affecting,” said Shakira.
“He surprised me by adding a beautiful and unexpected vocal harmony, and played a Cuban tres (guitar-like string instrument). What can I say? I’m running his fan club now!” For his part, Sanz came away dazzled by the experience of working with Shakira. “Shaki is a small girl but she’s a very big woman,” said the Spanish singer. “She is crazy in love with her dreams and also tremendously aware…To work with Shaki has been wonderful but to get to know her has been the best.” Like most Latin American artists of her generation, Shakira has been a long-time Soda Stereo fan, particular of the band’s resident songwriting and producer Gustavo Cerati. His work on “No”, and “Día Especial” (Special Day) feature his cutting-edge, delicately layered electronic stylings and guitar work, and are among the highlights on the album. “To me, Cerati is the biggest rock en español star. I’m an even bigger fan after sharing a studio with him. “ After achieving superstardom throughout Latin America, and the United States (her last Spanish album sold over 1 million in the U.S. and nearly 4 million copies in Latin America and Spain) Colombian-born Shakira became worldwide phenom with the launch of 2001’s Laundry Service, her first English album. Her unique artistry was quickly exalted and the album, Laundry Service produced a string of successes including chart-topping hits “Whenever, Wherever” and “Underneath Your Clothes.”
A tri-lingual child prodigy who wrote her first song at age eight, Shakira signed her first recording contract with Sony Music Colombia by the age of 13. Her first breakthrough release Pies Descalzos, ("Barefeet") catapulted her to superstar status in Latin America, Brazil and Spain. Her next album, ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? produced by Shakira, became an even bigger worldwide hit, spending 11 weeks at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Latin album chart and producing two #1 Latin hits “Ciega, Sordomuda,” and "Tu." Additionally, Shakira dedicates as much time as possible to her Foundation Pies Descalzos, which promotes education and relieves some of the basic needs among children displaced by violence in Columbia and has become a goodwill ambassador for Unicef.