«IT WAS AN UNCONVENTIONAL SONG. One that almost didn’t get released,» says Shakira of her 2006 hit «Hips Don’t Lie.»
Five years after she scored her first top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit, «Whenever, Wherever,» the Colombian singer’s second English-language album, 2005’s Oral Fixation, Vol. 2, got off to a rocky start when the lead single, «Don’t Bother,» stalled at No. 42 on the chart.
Instead of choosing a second single from the album, then-Epic Records president Charlie Walk, who had worked with the Fugees, approached Wyclef Jean and Pras looking for a song with, he says, a «global, Caribbean sound» that would suit Shakira. The 2004 track, called «Dance Like This,» had originally been intended as a Fugees song, but when Lauryn Hill passed on it (shortly before the trio broke up), Jean recorded it with singer Claudette Ortiz, and the tune was included on the soundtrack toDirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Walk worked with the duo to create a demo that night: Ortiz’s vocals were stripped from the mix, Jean added «Shakira, Shakira» call-outs, and the new version was sent to Shakira. She added her own touches, including the line «En Barranquilla se baila así» – «This is how they dance in Barranquilla» – and she and Jean collaborated on the final recording.
Shakira, then 29, tells Billboard that the finished, retitled song embraced her roots. «It had sounds that weren’t just interesting and fresh to the pop scene, but also ones that I was really excited to experiment with and share, like cumbia and typical Colombian folkloric percussion and instrumentation. They were also deeply personal, down to the reference to my hometown Barranquilla.»
Oral Fixation, Vol. 2, with «Hips Don’t Lie» added, was rereleased March 28, 2006, and vaulted from No. 98 to No. 6 on the Billboard 200 dated April 15. The sensual «Hips Don’t Lie» did even better. The single became Shakira and Jean’s first (and, to date, only) Hot 100 No. 1 when it topped the June 17 chart. «It was more than just a song, it was a movement,» says Walk. «It made a huge cultural impact that continues to have a lasting effect on pop culture. The song hit middle-America hard – it was a sound they’d never heard before.»
«Hips Don’t Lie» sold 1.4 million downloads that year, according to Nielsen Music, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. For Shakira, the song’s success was «validation that I didn’t have to sacrifice any part of what makes me different to connect with a global audience.»
Shakira, who has two sons with Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique, has since released three more studio albums. She has served as a judge on NBC’s The Voice, lent her voice to the 2016 hit animated film Zootopia and, for three years running, reigned as the most-liked woman on Facebook.