We’ve been taking a break from blogging, for we’ve been in hibernation, and we also don’t want to write about things for the sake of writing about things. We prefer to blog when the mood takes us, when the subject takes us, and when the song takes us. This should at least partly explain why we now find ourselves wanting to blog our strong opinions on Januray’s release of the inevitable collaboration between Rihanna and Shakira. In case you somehow missed it, it was entitled ‘Can’t Remember To Forget You.’ We say it was inevitable because
a) Who in the pop world hasn’t Rihanna yet collaborated with? The list is surely growing smaller by the day.
b) Shakira’s deals with new record label RCA, and relatively new management from Roc Nation, will have seen her especially keen to impress them. Namely by trying to sell plenty of records, especially after a lean few years, and a willingness to comply with whatever they request from her.
c) Shakira, save 2010’s legendary footballing anthem ‘Waka Waka,’ has largely been missing from the pop scene for a long while. This is particularly the case in the UK, where 2009’s ‘She Wolf’ would arguably be the last song on many casual music listeners’ radars.
The end results were disappointing to say the least. Limp commercial performances, with peaks at UK #11 and US #15 respectively, have reflected that the song never clicked with the public.
Some of the song’s problems?
– It sounded like something Shakira could have released at ANY point during her music career.
– It didn’t sound like Shakira had realised it was meant for release in 2014. It sounded dated and tired from the moment it got its first spin.
– The ska influences weren’t anywhere near ska enough. The sound is too poppy to be rocky but too rocky to be poppy. Going down the whole reggae/ska route could have worked wonders, but only if it had been committed to fully. (We suggest Shakira listens to the ‘Death In Paradise’ theme tune for some inspiration here. See also: ‘Rudi’s In Love.’ Listening to both these tracks highlights what a half-arsed attempt at the genre ‘Can’t Remember’ was.)
– The song didn’t flatter Shakira’s unique tones. In fact it made them sound distinctly ‘off’.
– Worse still, Rihanna’s guest vocalist spot was rather good indeed, stealing the limelight away from Shakira. This, combined with one of Rihanna’s leanest ever periods in terms of music released, led to many viewing the release as a ‘Rihanna & Shakira’ release or a ‘Rihanna ft. Shakira’ release, rather than the album-launching ‘Shakira ft. Rihanna’ release it was clearly intended to be.
This is made all the more upsetting by the last massive pop collaboration Shakira released. The INCREDIBLE ‘Beautiful Liar.’ Yes, the Freemasons mix did make all the difference there. However having had a look at some of the more agreeable remixes of ‘Can’t Remember’ such as this one from Naxsy, and our favourite by X-Fada, it becomes clear that even with a donk applied the song is still very weak.
We’ve not even mentioned the faux-lesbianism yet. We find it as problematic as we find it cheap and tacky. With the video to ‘She Wolf’ being as ‘memorable’ as it was, we do feel it would be a bit of a stretch to suggest that we thought Shakira was above such needless titillation, but we kind of did.
Anyway, with the hype around ‘Can’t Remember’ already dying Shakira’s team have already put a new song onto YouTube. ‘Empire’, which is presumably going to be the next single, doesn’t sound anything like ‘Can’t Remember.’ It does however share one thing in common with ‘Can’t Remember’. It’s not particularly good either. We spotted various descriptions on Twitter as ‘Shakira doing Coldplay’ and ‘Shakira doing Snow Patrol’, and that is sadly the kind of vibe ‘Empire’ emits.
As we often do, we’re saying all this from a kind place in our hearts, as we consider ourselves fans of Shakira. Just earlier today we had Shakira blasting out at popfools HQ, with favourites such as ‘Good Stuff’ and ‘Mon Amour’ from the ‘She Wolf’ album reminding us why we fell in love with Shakira. Just, it seems, we’ve rapidly forgotten how to remember that feeling.