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Reactions To Shakira's New Song: Feminist Demands And Nostalgic Claims

This week Shakira's new song in collaboration with the Argentine producer Bizarrap has been a trend. Social media users have reacted with support and criticism.

Bizarrap and Shakira

Photo: Bizarrap, Shakira

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Leer en español: Reacciones a la nueva canción de Shakira: Exigencias feministas y reclamos nostálgicos

Perhaps one of the most anticipated albums of the year is that of the barranquillera. During her breakup with footballer Gerard Piqué, she released her single "Te felicito", which started some divorce rumors. Now, after everything has been made public, Shakira has released two new songs. One, a few months ago, "Monotonía", was a collaboration with reggaeton artist Ozuna that focuses above all on the idea of a broken heart after no one has been able to take responsibility for the breakup. This Wednesday Shakira's new song came out, in collaboration with the Argentine producer Bizarrap, which has much more explicit lyrics.

In this new song, Shakira is much more literal and refers to real situations of her breakup and divorce. She complains to her ex-husband that he has left her mother-in-law as a neighbor, the press at the door, and with the debt in the Treasury. Anyone who follows entertainment news, whether or not they are a fan of Shakira, can easily understand that these verses refer to real situations in her life such as the harassment suffered by the Spanish press and the open case of the singer in Spain for the alleged tax evasion.

And yet, the thorniest issue is, of course, that of infidelity. Social media users have commented a lot on this and other concerns.

The Feminist Demand

For some time now, little has been said about a cultural product by itself on social networks. It is very rare, perhaps except in trade publications, that a song or movie is reviewed for what it is. Users of social networks tend to think more based on a "should be": songs and television series are judged according to whether "it was good or bad that it was done", we all wonder if it is correct or not. This, in part, is because today's public is perhaps more suspicious and demanding. Feminists, for example, have been able to reveal sexist clues in movies and popular songs and have encouraged equality between the sexes also to permeate the cultural products we consume.

However, this has also caused much of what is read on social networks and in some media about Shakira's new song to ask whether she should have done it or not and not whether the song is good or bad. And to say that a song is "good or bad" is not about its quality or the emotions it inspires but about whether it was "good or bad" to make it. The artist's career has been judged with this criterion a few years ago: her fans judge whether it is a good or bad decision to collaborate with this or that, if it is good or bad to sing especially in English if it is correct to move to Barcelona, whether or not it should rule on political issues, etc.

This criterion works, then, not only to give an opinion on the life and work decisions of the artist but also her music. It is so then that on Twitter today there is a debate about whether it is correct to speak like that about the ex-husband if it is okay to throw hints at Piqué's new girlfriend, and what kind of mother is Shakira if she wrote this song. Some demand that she makes references not only to her ex-husband but also to the woman he is with now, as this would be something unsympathetic and even misogynistic or because perhaps it takes away responsibility from the man. Others, angrier, congratulate her for taking advantage of her spite and for insulting the one who broke her heart. A third group, the most conservative, criticize her lack of decorum and lack of elegance with which she intends to take public revenge on her unfaithful husband.

All these are opinions, ultimately, of how Shakira and, by extension, women should behave when we are angry. There are already videos on TikTok that call for "not being that ex" and that propose, as a counterbalance, manuals on the excellent ex-wife and the good feminist: with affective responsibility, modesty, self-sacrificing motherhood, and no desire for revenge.

Also read: Shakira sings spitefully again with her new song "Monotonía"

The Nostalgic Claim

Not all audiences, of course, judge the songs they listen to only by the yardstick of their moral principles. There are those who, and these are the fewest, have dared to comment on Bizarrap's beat or the metric of the lyrics. Among these, some claim that Shakira no longer writes lyrics like those of the nineties. However, it was in this decade that she released one of her greatest hits of the time, "Si te vas", which is also about a man who leaves one woman for another. The claim with which the song begins is the same as it is now: "Every new broom always sweeps well." This, perhaps, only shows that the subject of infidelity and heartbreak is a subject of all decades but that the readings, on these subjects and Shakira, have changed. The young Shakira was applauded for her "dignified rage", as they say, today on social networks; but decorum is required of the divorced mother. The Shakira of 1998 was an angry feminist and the one of today gives, as is also said on Twitter, "cringe".

One thing is certain: in less than 24 hours Shakira's new song has 30 million views. And something else: the reactions on social networks are also a replica of what she does: exposes herself. The offended infidel, the one worried about Milan and Sasha, the one who preaches free love, the polyamorous, the rabid feminist, the one who asks for modesty, the one who congratulates her, and the one who writes this article, we are all, like her, ultimately, talking about our spite. We have made some company. And this is not only, as is also said on social networks, monetizing a tusa. That's called writing songs.