Pies Descalzos

Pies Descalzos

When Shakira released “Dónde Estás Corazón” as part of a 1994 compilation titled Nuestro Rock, it was the beginning of one of Latin pop’s greatest do-overs. Having signed to Sony Music Colombia three years prior, at the age of 13, her first two albums Magia (1991) and Peligro (1993) underperformed, leading label execs to lose faith in the ululating, belly-dancing, teenage powerhouse. But trying to package Shakira as a mild-mannered pop balladeer was a mistake from the start—and as the danceable, percussive “Dónde Estás Corazón” gained traction at home and across Latin American pop-rock radio, the artist proved that romantic poetry could also seduce young audiences. Off the song's success, Sony greenlit Shakira's third album, Pies Descalzos or Bare Feet, but the deal came with stipulations of creative control since the burgeoning singer-songwriter was dissatisfied with the cookie-cutter production of her previous records. Inspired by inventive Colombian tropipop group Aterciopleados and rising Canadian pop-rock juggernaut Alanis Morissette, Shakira took a darker, more assertive approach to her songwriting and personal aesthetic. The new crop of songs arrived in 1995, fresh, defiant, and loaded with a kaleidoscopic sonic palette that swirled with rock, dancehall, bossa nova, and bachata. Opening with “Estoy Aquí”—the album's biggest hit and one of Shakira's most enduring classics —its embrace of ‘90s house music and melodic rock guitars heralded the pop architect's dance-floor reign of the following decades. She sings euphorically about waiting for love and losing her mind in the process, echoing this cheeky impatience again in the longing bachata ballad “Te Necesito.” For “Un Poco de Amor,” she enlisted Magical Beat singer Glasford Howard, with whom she makes a plea for more love in the world. Pies Descalzos also cemented Shakira as one of the great pop poets of her generation, ruminating impressionistically over the lessons learned from a defunct romance on “Antologia.” Later, on “Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos,” she surveys biblical and prehistoric history in a searing critique of social conformity that takes shots at everything from catty family whispers to stifling dress codes. In fact,Pies Descalzos was a literal declaration of emancipation from Shakira, who famously prefers to take the stage barefoot. It also gave her control over her story, confidently leaving rules and shoes behind whenever they didn't fit.

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