SHAKIRA PHOTOGRAPH BY HANS NELEMAN
December 23, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Shakira made our 2005 Entertainers of the Year list

Olé! Or do we mean, Hey!? Whatever language one expresses exultation in, we can’t help but cheer for Shakira, the 28-year-old, Colombian-born diva who was the year’s undisputed crossover champion, releasing two sensational albums, the Spanish-language Fijación Oral Vol. 1 and its English follow-up, Oral Fixation Vol. 2. Driven by the steamy single and video for ”La Tortura,” Fijación sold 3 million copies worldwide, decimating language and cultural barriers when it debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard pop chart (the highest bow ever for a Spanish-language album). ”When people relate to a song that’s not even in their mother tongue, you realize we are all made out of the same clay,” she says.

Sure, she may shake her booty to supremely tantalizing effect in the video for her new single, ”Don’t Bother,” but her barbed lyrics and wide-ranging intellectual hunger (”I want to figure it all out,” she declares on Vol. 2‘s ”Animal City”) prove she’s one of the most literate and thoughtful songwriters working in the pop field. If you can’t tell from her album titles, she’s in analysis, a fact she contends has had a beneficial impact on her artistry. ”I always felt writing songs was therapeutic anyway,” she says. ”A kind of catharsis allowing me to exorcise the many lives within me.”

Her distaste for the stylistic straitjackets that bind many of her fellow pop singers is evident from the wild genre-hopping — from straight-ahead rock to horn-spiked mariachi to strummy folk to au courant post-disco — on both Vols. ”I gave myself the freedom to experiment and experience music in a vast, wide way,” says Shakira, who produced both CDs herself, along with executive producer Rick Rubin (who’s collaborated with everyone from Johnny Cash to the Red Hot Chili Peppers). ”These are not homogeneous albums. These are very diverse and eclectic albums.” Forget about looking for her music in the ”World Beat” section of your local CD emporium; she’s filed under ”World-Beater” now, Buster.

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