The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The low-down on low brow

By Amy Shaunette

My college stint as an amateur arts and culture journalist has led to an alarming discovery: I’m a terrible judge of arts and culture. I’ll take a laugh over artistic originality any day. Let’s just say my taste is multifaceted: I’m up for a Fellini film on a Friday night, but it’s “Knocked Up” I’ve got memorized. My iPod is full of decoy music, respectable artists I import into iTunes for the sole purpose of distracting intruders from my shameful Top 25 Most Played. High culture has a place on my bookshelf, but low brow lives in my heart.The impetus for this column stems from a newfound acceptance of my predilection for the campy, the absurd. I’m not saying I don’t like classic films, innovative music and canonized literature-I do. But to like and to appreciate are two different things, and texts like “The Berenstain Bears” deserve a little appreciation every now and then. Or, if you’re me, every night before bed. So, The Low-Down on Low Brow will be a space where pretension is not welcome, where judgment is ignored. And on that note, I’d like to discuss Shakira.

The Mac Weekly office is home to a lot of computers and a lot of stressed out people. We frequently take YouTube breaks, but rare is the video that can command the attention of the entire TMW staff. Last week, Shakria’s “She Wolf” did just that. 10 or 15 of us crowded around a computer screen, jaws dropped. Everyone knows Shakira can shake it, but “She Wolf” is a pop-and-lock, gyrating departure from the belly dancing seen in “Whenever, Wherever.” It’s straight-up contortion.

Shakira is more than a dancer; the woman is a bonafide lyricist. “Whenever, Wherever” delivered the line, “Lucky that my breasts are small and humble/so you don’t confuse them with mountains.” Child’s play compared to “She Wolf.” The song deals mainly with issues of, to borrow an SAT word from the song, lycanthropy: desire, the moon, sex, repression. The chorus is mostly wolf howls and sensual deep breaths. But the best line of the song doesn’t seem to fit. In the first verse, Shakira croons, “I’m starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in an office.” That’s the best she could do? Girl should hire some better co-writers. Or, in the spirit of low brow, give those writers a raise-they’re geniuses!

The Spanish version of “She Wolf” came out in this past June; the English “She Wolf” premiered in July, topping charts in Europe and the States. The song has inspired a very long Wikipedia entry and a bevy of YouTube spoofs, including a controversial version geared toward a gay male audience. The video, which features a well-groomed man performing Shakira’s dance routine with startling accuracy, caught the attention of after YouTube labeled “He Wolf” adult content, suitable for those 18 and over. Shakira’s video, however, is available to viewers of all ages, and is, in my opinion, far more explicit. She’s got a bit more to flaunt than the male star of “He Wolf,” and a few million more impressionable young fans.

Shakira’s new album is slated for release on Oct. 9, and I’ll admit I haven’t been this excited for an album release since the Backstreet Boy’s “Millennium” came out in 1999. I’ve never even liked Shakira much, but “She Wolf” has helped me see the light. And if Top 40 pop music can inspire that kind of excitement, it’s done its job. To that I say-no, howl-“Aaaaaoooooo!

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    Nicholas ReesSep 7, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Yes you are correct, YouTube is finest video distribution site, because YouTube is a lightly no much streaming time rather than other web sites.