Dónde Están Los Ladrones
The written word is sacred to Shakira. As a child, she'd watch her father write stories on his cherished typewriter, which she later used to draft her first poems and songs. By 1995, Shakira's breakthrough album, Pies Descalzos, had positioned her as Colombia's next pop phenom and a skilled songwriter armed with dreamy poetry, tongue-twisting wordplay, and literary references. So, as she wrapped a successful tour in support of the album and prepared to begin production on the next, it came as a shocking blow that part of her luggage was stolen at Bogota's El Dorado International Airport, including a satchel containing the lyrics she'd been crafting for months. It was a violation of her art that filled Shakira with fear and rage, and upon entering the studio, theft became a recurring metaphor in the new songs. Stolen glances, lost time, and romantic swindling fueled the emotional urgency of Dónde Están Los Ladrones (1998), while the masterful dance-pop machinations of co-producer Emilio Estefan helped blast Shakira into the global mainstream. Lead single “Ciega, Sordomuda” encapsulated the album's alchemic mix of Latin pop and deeply emotional songwriting. In what has become one of Shakira's most iconic dance-floor fillers, the song melds ‘90s house music with mariachi horns and strings, all while attempting to exorcize a love turned sour from the recesses of her mind. Heartbreak rages like a storm on the hard-rocking “Si Te Vas” and gets mournful on rattling ballad “Sombra de Ti.” Though Dónde Están Los Ladrones is often melancholic, it's also hopeful. “Moscas en la Casa” contemplates newly emptied rooms after a breakup over bouncy bachata, while “Tú” is a sweeping, almost devotional torch song for an all-consuming love. The seeds of introspective poetry planted on previous hits like “Antología” come into full bloom on “Inevitable,” as Shakira nitpicks at her own character flaws and eventually lands on acceptance. If Pies Descalzos assuaged label concerns about how to market Shakira's music, Dónde Están Los Ladrones all but cemented her creative control into posterity. Having her unique vibrato frequently compared to the wails of a goat, the singer put her Lebanese heritage front and center on “Ojos Así,” marrying her ululating vocals with resonant doumbek percussion. The original song was performed in Spanish and Arabic and became such a global sensation that it was eventually translated into English, proving that no matter the tongue, Shakira's pen will always be mighty.