Song 328: Shakira (feat. Wyclef Jean), “Hips Don’t Lie” (2006)


Let’s start with the title: “Hips Don’t Lie” is a really, really great name for a song. It’s only three words long, but it’s full of feelings and meanings. There’s something defensive about the phrase “hips don’t lie,” as if someone argued with Shakira’s dancing (ridiculous!) and she uttered the line in return. Then there’s the general idea of one’s physicality being some kind of ultimate truth, an understood constant that outlasts all else. (You can find these notions and more in my dissertation, Underneath Her Clothes: Here’s An Endless Story [About Shakira]).

I love this song. I’m not even sure listing my reasons is worthwhile, because it’s the overall feeling, the way everything fits together, that makes it such a great song. But I’ll single out those horns, that call to arms to shake your booty. They’re sampled from the song “Amores Como el Nuestro” by Jerry Rivera, and they lend the song a weird sense of seriousness. They have a sense of nobility to them, as if implying that shaking your booty is The Right Thing To Do. I love the contrast between that seriousness and the bonkers rhythm.

Here’s what I don’t love: Wyclef. Why is he here? Shakira doesn’t need a rapper to help her out, especially not on this great, great song. His “no fighting” and “Shakira Shakira” interjections do nothing for the track, nor do his constant reminders that he used to be in the Fugees. But that’s how awesome “Hips Don’t Lie” is: it survives Wyclef telling us about his employment history. Not bad.


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