Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie Was Actually A Song By Lauryn Hill & Wyclef Jean
Latin American culture has become synonymous with American pop music since the early 1930s. The primitive sounds of rhumba transformed into mambo, then by the 1950s, Tejano rhythm and blues mixed with boogaloo paved the way for the hip-shaking tracks of the future.
The trajectory of Latin American music has followed a major upward trend over the years and the popularity is only growing with each new hit. To give you an idea of what tracks have stood the test of time, here is an in-depth look behind the lyrics of 9 mainstream Latin Songs still rattling stereos around the world:
Released in 2017 by Puerto Rican star Luis Fonsi, Despacito is perhaps the most popular Latin American song on American pop charts today. In fact, the song was such a hit with its original version that Justin Bieber helped launched a complete remix that skyrocket its success even further. Despacito (with the addition of Bieber) is actually the most streamed song in history. Plus, the original music video is also the most viewed clip on Youtube.
What makes Despacito so popular for listeners around the world are the lyrics that capture a visceral essence with a flair of mambo romance. Essentially, the song is about a man professing his love for a beautiful women, but the heat starts to rise even more when his passion turns into a full-on rapture. Lyrics in the song range from wanting to kiss his loved one’s neck slowly to having sex on a beach in Puerto Rico. It’s the ultimate song to get the party started and keep it going long after it’s over.
2. Hips Don’t Lie
Although Shakira hasn’t been in the spotlight lately, her songs are still a surefire way to get the crowd moving and shaking. You don’t think i’m telling the truth? Well, guess what…her “Hips Don’t Lie.” Released in 2005, Hips Don’t Lie was originally titled “Lips Don’t Lie,” and it was written by Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Pras. However, Hill wasn’t happy with the finished track, and so it sat unfinished until Shakira got involved. Once the transition was made, the new version caught fire and Shakira became the first artist to claim the number one spot in both U.S. and Latin Billboard charts in the same week.
The song itself is pretty straight forward, but what many listeners may not know is that Shakira actually uses her body as a way to test the merit of a song before deciding it’s finished. Legend has it that Shakira’s body will have a physical reaction to a song, and if her hips are moving while it plays, then it’s ready to be released. It may sound a little crazy, but her instincts haven’t failed her yet. Along with its other accomplishments, Hips Don’t Lie took the number one spot in over 55 countries worldwide, and at the time, it broke the record for the most radio plays in a week.
3. Danza Kuduro
Another Puerto Rican to top Billboard charts, Don Omar struck gold with Danza Kuduro in 2010. The song blends Spanish with Portuguese, creating a jam that’s amped up even more with the help of Lucenzo. Together, the duo took advantage of the popular reggae vibes emerging in the early 2000s and transformed it into their own sound that claimed one on Billboard’s Latin charts and sold over a million digital copies to boot. Not bad for using an accordion to solidify the beat.
It’s probably safe to say that the only reason Danza Kuduro is such a popular tune is that the song really doesn’t explain anything too deep. Whether it stays in its native tongue or it’s translated into english, the song is simply about having a good time and not letting your fire burn out before it’s too late. Any party-goer can relate to this feeling, so it’s only natural that the song caught fire in dance clubs and spin classes the world over. That being said, there is a character in the song named “Morena” who the speaker is enticing, but it basically could represent any brunette-haired woman out on the floor.
4. I Like it
She’s come a long way from Love and Hip-Hop, and now, Cardi B is the new chick on the block that everyone loves. Her latest smash hit, I Like It, was in instant hit. After its release in April of 2018, Cardi B (with the help of Bad Bunny and J. Balvin) became the first female rapper to have two songs take the number one spot on the Billboard charts, and her success has only grown from there. Recently, Netflix signed her on as a judge for the much-anticipated music competition show, “Rhythm + Flow,” alongside Chance the Rapper and T.I.. Needless to say, she likes where she’s headed.
When this song came out, everyone could connect with Latin-infused jam because it samples one of the most popular songs ever written for the culture, “I Like It Like That,” written by Peter Rodriguez in 1967. Regardless, Cardi B’s version only loops the chorus, and the content is far different than what was booming in the 60s. I Like It takes on a whole new meaning of materialistic wealth. The lyrics are all about flaunting style and swag and remaining unapologetic for it. My personal favorite line is the homage to Super Mario Bros. where Cardi B isn’t sorry for collecting her coins “like Mario,” because she’s so hot right now that she is literally running the hip-hop game: “Yeah they call me Cardi B, I run this sh*t like cardio.” Pure gold.
Already destined for greatness with the success of his father, Julio Iglesias, Enrique made a name for himself with the record-shattering single “Bailamos” in 1998. The success from that release catapulted him into stardom as the king of Latin pop. However, even more fame would be waiting for him with Bailandos in 2014. Partnering with Cuban artists Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona, the hit song spent over 41 weeks in a row as the number one song on Latin Billboard charts, setting the pace and stage for “Despacito” 4 years later. Once a remixed version was released with the help of Sean Paul, the song enjoyed a crossover success peaking at number 12 on the Hot 100, keeping Iglesias safely in the limelight while other Latin artists began adding their own tracks to the growing craz
The premise of Bailando is what you would expect from any flamenco-thrilled rump shaker. A woman out on the dance floor moves with such grace and beauty that the singer, Iglesias, cannot contain himself any longer. The desire to be with her, to move with her is too overpowering, so eventually, he starts to beg for her touch. Of course, this kind of pleading is done in a romantic, charming way so as not to spook the woman off, but the song’s depth remains very much at a visceral level.
6. La Bamba
If you haven’t seen La Bamba with Lou Diamond Phillips, then stop what you’re doing and get a copy. La Bamba was originally written as an 18th century folk song from the state of Verracruz on the Mexican Gulf coast, but in 1958, a young Mexican hear-throb named Ritchie Valens infused the outdated mariachi sound with an electric guitar and the rest is history. At the time, Spanish-language records were not a common practice, but Bob Keane, Valens’ manager, quickly heard its potential, and Valens become the very first Latino teen idol. Spanning all the way to today, La Bamba is still a classic rock tune installed on juke boxes and added to playlists across the globe. Sadly, what makes the song even more popular is the fact that Valens died in a plane crash soon after the song topped the charts.
Since the song is so historic, you would think that the lyrics would inspire some kind of transcendent awakening, but it’s actually fairly easy to digest. Basically, the song is about how to execute a particular dance called, you guess it, the Bamba. Each verse is just a repetition of what’s needed to make the dance perfect: “a little grace, for me, for you, ah, higher and higher” (translated in english). I mean, cut it some slack. After all, it was written 200 years ago, and yet its survived this long. There’s no denying the foot-stomping energy it has once Valens shreds off a few licks and bursts into song.
7. Oye Como Va
Carlos Santana is a god when it comes to face-melting guitar riffs, and Oye Como Va released in 1970 was nothing but pure fire. The song was originally written Tito Puente in 1963, but Santana injected it with electricity, giving it a whole new sound that would forever change the world. Oye Como Va singlehandedly paved the way for the salsa revolution of the 1970s, but more than anything, he proved to the world that Latin rock had a formidable place in global markets. Although Oye Como Va became a major success, the album it’s a part of, “Abraxas,” is considered to be one of the greatest Latin rock albums of all-time, so there’s that.
One of the best qualities of Tito Puente’s writing is that he adopts a minimalist approach that allows the music to do the talking, rather than forcing the audience to focus on the words. Oye Como Va is actually only two verses long, and the singer simply encourages the audience to listen to his rhythm. By following the rhythm, listeners can engage in the fun of the song, the playfulness of the musicality, which Santana certainly brings to life without too much effort, it seems.
8. Como la Flor
No story in Latin music history is sadder than that of its favorite daughter, Selena. From her humble days of touring around restaurants and cafes in her family band, Los Dinos, Selena became a cultural icon and captured the hearts of both Mexican and American audiences with love and enthusiasm. It was during her time with Los Dinos that Selena first gained major recognition with their song Como la Flor, which was claimed to be written by her older brother and basist, A.B. Quintanilla. After it was released in 1989, the song quickly rose to number 1 on the Mexican Billboard charts, and it enjoyed a solid run at number 97 out of 200 in American markets. In the years that followed, Selena’s star rose even higher until her life was cut short by her fan club president after her amazing performance at the Huston Astrodome in 1995.
Whoever did write Como la Flor deserves an A+ for their use of literary elements. The entire song is essentially a metaphor for love embodied in the care of a flower. For love to grow and blossom, it must receive the proper care. On the other hand, the one who gives love must be sure to not give too little or to not love too much, for leaning too far either way will end in despair. The singer expresses to their lover that their affection has caused them to whither, therefore, she must move on and learn from her mistakes. It is a truly beautiful track for those experiencing heartache, and Selena brings us to our knees with her exhilarating performance of it.
The driving force behind the song Maria is the pain of dealing with a difficult woman. Martin goes on to say that being with this person is like feeling hot and cold: “she is like a mortal sin that will condemn you little by little” (english translation). It’s plain to see that Maria is an elusive type that Martin cannot seem to understand or tame, “she is a sexual mirage that will drive you crazy.” Needless to say, it seems like Martin was on to something.
Latin Music is Here to Stay
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With the success its gained over the last century, there’s no doubt that Latin music is here to stay. With the world embracing more diversity in the music industry, it’s only natural that new sounds and fusions will continue to dominate mainstream markets. Besides, Latina American families are always looking for new songs to play at the Quince or wedding.