Shakira and Rihanna’s collaboration as a recent contribution to iTunes’ charts on Jan. 13 provides a sense of déjà vu, although surprisingly, this is the first time the Colombian and Barbadian R&B singer have joined forces. In the past, we have seen Shakira receive big attention with a single featuring another powerful female leader in music – Beyoncé – with “Beautiful Liar” in 2007.
Juxtaposing Shakira with a big-name female R&B artist seems to be a fortune-making formula for a single. Back then it was Beyoncé’s soulful voice accentuating the vibrato and fluctuation of Shakira’s Latin style, and today we are hit with Rihanna’s edgy, unapologetic, Caribbean flavor added to the power of Shakira’s vocals. Even though seven years have passed, listeners are drawn to the combination. Fans of both Shakira and Rihanna (some of which inevitably overlap) will buy the song for the simple fact that it is the combination of the two fierce artists. Without listening too intently, it will be an automatic download out of simple fandom. Both singers are due to come out with their eighth studio album in 2014. “Can’t Remember to Forget You” promotes anticipation of the fans rolling as they get a taste of new music.
Over the years, Shakira has been consistently well liked, but hasn’t seemed to accelerate or spike in popularity like Rihanna or Beyoncé. Oops, did featuring Beyoncé in “Beautiful Liar” give “Queen Bey” more of a leg up than Shakira? If so, will “Can’t Remember to Forget You” heed the same results? As listeners we love the combination, but after some consideration it’s arguable that Beyoncé and Rihanna were meant to do Shakira favors being featured in her songs. While Shakira is lovable and unique, “Bey” and “RiRi” have evolved noticeably through the years in very iconic styles and flavors. From “Dangerously in Love” in 2003 to the surprise release of “Beyoncé” ending 2013 with a bang, Beyoncé not only has a name in music but a femme fatale influence in the world as a celebrity.
Similarly, Rihanna’s debut album “Music of the Sun” in 2005 is interesting to compare with her most recent album, “Unapologetic” released in 2012, whose tracks did everything but ask forgiveness for its bold and fearless attitude. Shakira sounds just as good as she did with the release of the classic “Hips Don’t Lie” in 2006, but that might not be such an advantageous or beneficial truth for her career when Rihanna and Beyoncé have so explicitly progressed.
In “Can’t Remember to Forget You” Rihanna’s verses change up the lyrics, making her contribution the best of the song. Unfortunately, Shakira gets stuck with the repetitive chorus with lyrics that aren’t very clever or different. Yet, the beat and climax of the single deliver, and the moment Rihanna joins in is a good delayed hook that should please the fans.
Although Shakira’s songs are always enjoyable, the lyrics tend to lack a resounding impact. Personally, I find the Spanish version of her 2009 hit “Gypsy” much better than the English version, because not understanding the lyrics means I don’t have to ponder how boring the words “I’m a gypsy, are you coming with me” rhyme lamely despite the cool, gypsy-esque sound of the song as a whole. “Can’t Remember to Forget You” is better enjoyed when the lyrics of the chorus are ignored as well. The chorus simply repeats one too many times and by the end it just sounds like Shakira is whining and we miss Rihanna who at least had some wit in her lyrics about the regretful situation. I know that they weren’t the ones who wrote the song, but deliverance is key.
Ultimately, we love our powerful female vocalists of today. When they put their voices together a fan fantasy results and the best of all worlds is a reality, but definite competition ensues. We won’t forget about them and they reassure us that they’ll keep pushing onward in the industry because even though they try to be beautiful liars, they can’t seem to remember to forget us.