In 2007, America’s “Shakira” teamed up with Latin America’s “Beyoncé” to gyrate their way into the top of the charts. Naturally, they stepped on a useless man — err, a “Beautiful Liar,” in the process. But how did such a perfect pairing come about?
In 2001, Colombian sensation Shakira released her first English language album, Laundry Service, and had her breakthrough single with “Whenever, Wherever,” becoming one of the only female artists from South America to take America by storm in such a way. That same year, Destiny’s Child announced they would pursue solo projects, and the media and music world put lead singer Beyoncé Knowles on a pedestal from which she has never left.
Shakira’s next album did not come until 2005, and while she was away, Beyoncé rose to superstardom as a result of her 2003 debut solo album, Dangerously In Love. On the album’s second and fourth singles, “Baby Boy” and “Naughty Girl,” Beyoncé displayed a new penchant for Caribbean and Middle Eastern inspired sounds, looks, and dances in her music and videos (belly dancing in “Baby Boy,” anyone?). Her 2003 MTV VMA performance seemed particularly Shakira-esque. Perhaps a coincidence, or perhaps she was indeed inspired by her peer, Shakira (who is of Caribbean and Middle Eastern descent), the comparisons began to form between the two dyed-golden-haired artists.
Shakira returned to prominence in America with her second English language album, Oral Fixation, Vol. 2, released in November 2005, and the massive hit single “Hips Don’t Lie,” featuring Wyclef Jean, in early 2006. (Side note: Beyoncé got her first hit, with Destiny’s Child, via a Wyclef Jean production, “No, No, No Part 2”). It was Shakira’s biggest hit to date and, naturally, she became a hot commodity once again. Later that same year, Beyoncé released her second album, B’Day, with which she seemed to be targeting the Latin American market. Beyoncé recorded Spanish language versions of her singles, “Listen” and “Irreplaceable,” with unreleased Spanish language demos of “Ring the Alarm” and “Deja Vu” surfacing on the internet as well. In 2006, Beyoncé and Shakira were two of music’s hottest names.
At the end of that year, rumors began to swirl that the pair were planning a duet. Then, a demo of would-be duet, “Beautiful Liar” leaked onto the internet. In the leaked demo, Beyoncé sang the entire song solo. The parts Shakira would eventually sing in the final version were sung by Beyoncé in Spanish, playing the character of “Sasha.” Based on this, it was assumed the final version of the song would be sung by Beyoncé in English and Shakira in Spanish.
That, however, was not the case, and, the final product was rather disappointing. “Beautiful Liar,” the lead single from Beyoncé’s reissue of B’Day, was poised to become an iconic collaboration, but fell short. Duets between two big name artists often do – especially, for whatever reason, when both artists are of the same sex. Yes, it had everything that everyone expected from Beyoncé and Shakira: a dance floor ready beat, sassy drama, a girl-power message, Latin flavor, and a touch of Middle Eastern flair. Still, the song felt a bit chintzy and simply could have been so much better. Fans felt a bit let down.
And then the video dropped.
While the song was lackluster, the video rendered the song’s shortcomings irrelevant. Perfectly, the two budding divas owned the similarities and comparisons between their styles and appearances and appeared to be two best friends playing dress up from the same closet. They rocked similar outfits, hairstyles, and slayed their complimentary choreography. Not only did they reinforce the girls vs. boy message of the song, but they showed us how damn amazing it would be if Beyoncé and Shakira actually were twins. Belly dancing and twirling in the rain, America and Latin America’s biggest female stars united not in competition but in unison. With so much talent and beauty, they were an undeniable force together on camera. We only wish they performed the song together.
While the song itself may be forgettable, the video for “Beautiful Liar” will live on as iconic piece of pop culture. The VEVO version of the video, uploaded two and a half years after its February 2007 release, in October 2009, has amassed over 236 million views, and sits as the #9 most viewed video on Beyoncé’s VEVO account. For comparison’s sake, “Irreplaceable” is from the same album, has been uploaded for the same amount of time, was #1 on the Hot 100 for 11 weeks, and is 12 million views behind “Beautiful Liar,” which spent just one week at #2 on the Hot 100. “Beautiful Liar” is the highest ranking song from B’Day on VEVO.
So, “Beyoncé, Beyoncé… Shakira, Shakira” — we’ve waited 10 years, and can’t wait any longer. When will you two collaborate again?