Shakira Has Always Been Savage
Shakira has a way with words.
From her early work on Dónde Están los Ladrones? to her landmark crossover album, Laundry Service, to her total takeover of mainstream radio with Fijación Oral Volumes 1 and 2, the 45-year-old superstar has a history of writing personal songs that resonate with the entire world. Her latest, “BZRP Music Session #53,” is no exception.
The collaboration with Argentine megaproducer Bizarrap has broken Spotify’s record as the fastest Latin song in history to hit 100 million streams (surpassing the streaming king, Bad Bunny) as she bitingly narrates the fallout of her 12-year relationship to Spanish soccer star Gerard Piqué. It also became her first Billboard 100 Top 10 hit in more than 15 years and a whopping 33 years into her career.
In the lyrics, she accuses an unknown man of cheating on her with a much younger woman, ultimately tearing apart their partnership and their family. “BZRP Music Session #53” has Shakira singing about how Piqué (without actually saying his name) “traded a Rolex for a Casio,” declaring she’ll never go back to him despite his tearful pleas, and confirming that “this is so you’ll be mortified,” right before exaggerating the word salpique, to “sal … pique.”
This is a woman who’s realized everything she’s feared might happen has come true. When you live in that reality—the one where you’ve lost everything—you also realize there’s nothing left to lose. You go back to the beginning and try to work out who you were before you lost yourself to your relationship.
After the song went viral, the Colombian singer took to her Instagram account and shared her desire to “hug the millions of women who rise up against those who make us feel insignificant. Women who defend what they feel and think, and raise their hands when they disagree, even if others raise their eyebrows. They are my inspiration. This achievement is not only mine but theirs too. We have to get up 70 times 7,” she wrote in Spanish.
I found her choice of words to be more revealing about the issues she was up against than the song’s literal lyrics. Contained in the singer’s own words is the implication that Piqué diminished her—emotionally and arguably maybe professionally, too—and that she had to fight to be heard throughout it all.
I sent a screenshot of the post to my mom, who replied, “I like what she says—and you are among those women.”
My mom’s been my front-seat passenger through my yearlong journey to divorce. She’s felt every bump, swerve, and sudden stop. In a matter of a year, I went from questioning my reality to standing strong in my conviction that I was doing what was best for me—despite what anyone else might think.
This song is a very public rebellion to the notion that women shouldn't speak out on their heartbreak. The words she chooses are vicious and full of anger. “This is so you’ll be mortified, chew on it and choke it down, choke it down and chew on it,” she sings in Spanish. So often, women are taught to tamper down their feelings, particularly anger, and “let things go.” That’s an important skill to have, but anger can also be useful.
I floundered in a river of tears for months in the aftermath of my divorce until I read Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience, by psychologist Meg Jay, who described anger as a powerful tool that can help us move forward. That was when I allowed myself to be angry. It shielded me from allowing my breakup to define me. It woke me up and helped me begin the journey back to myself.
The song is a well-thought-out exorcism of toxic emotions channeled through what Shakira knows best: music. In a recent Spanish interview with Molusco TV, Keityn, a songwriter on the project, shared how Shakira came into work with a list of things she wanted to make sure the song said. Keityn, along with BZRP, helped her turn her animosity into the infectious pop song the Internet has become obsessed with. The song’s creation took three weeks and brought us the soon-to-be rally cry of the year: “Las mujeres ya no lloran, las mujeres facturan,” which means, “Women don’t cry anymore, they cash in,” a line Shakira delivers before the sound of a cash register (cha-ching!) goes off. The lyric is a nod to her ability to survive on her own—financially and emotionally.
“Half of you don’t remember ‘Shaki’s’ Si Te Vas era and it shows,” one fan chimed on Twitter after the song’s release. “She’s been savage desde cuando [way back when] 😭😭😭.”
“Si Te Vas” is an early single off Dónde Están los Ladrones? where she sings about an ex who leaves her for another woman. “When wrinkles cut through her skin / And cellulite invades her legs / You will return from your hell / With your tail between your horns / Begging [me] for one more chance / But by then, I will be a million nights away from you.” And this was 25 years ago.
Beyond Shakira, we’ve seen this play out before. Beyoncé gave us Lemonade in 2016. The 13-track album zooms back and forth between rage, sadness, forgiveness, denial, and apathy, allowing listeners a glimpse into the very private world of Mrs. Carter as she processes her husband’s infidelities.
Both singers’ vulnerability reminds us of their humanity, and in turn, our own. There is no amount of success, money, beauty, or talent that protects a person from the disappointments of life and especially love. In both cases, these two women refuse to be destroyed by their partners’ choices. By being open with their challenges in public, they’ve taken ownership of their situations, but they’re not giving anyone a free show. It’s electrifying to witness powerhouses like Shakira and Beyoncé move forward with their lives in such a public way. They approach the public interest with the attitude of, “You want to know what happened? Fine. But you’re going to have to pay to access my pain.”
While lyrics don’t protect us from getting hurt, the choice for these singers to show their vulnerability is an invisible act of solidarity that says, “It will all be painful, but you will survive.”
Shakira closed her celebratory Instagram post by praising “women who speak up, own their feelings and take action—not based on how society believes they should behave, but rather, what helps them, their children, and parents get ahead.” Rather than give in to the pressure that haunts famous women dealing with very public separations, she’s pushing back and publicly recommitting to herself and her ability to overcome life’s hurdles. The song is not about surviving—it’s about thriving.
There’s a freedom in realizing that someone else’s baggage is only theirs to carry. I know, because I’ve felt it too.
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