Shakira, the Colombian pop singer who cracked the U.S. market in 2001 with her Latin-flavored dance single “Wherever, Whenever,” is now under attack from Spanish nationalists for including a song on her new album in the regional Catalan language.
The Catalonia region has long sought independence from Spain. The region has been recognized as autonomous since 1975 when the fascist regime of Francisco Franco ended with the dictator’s death. Under Franco, the Catalan language was outlawed and Catalonia’s self-rule was crushed.
The region first came under Spanish rule in 1714 and has struggled to break away from Spain ever since. Catalan independence as become one of the most contentious domestic issues in Spain and Catalonia has recently been pressing the Spanish government to allow a referendum on creating a breakaway Catalan state.
So when Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, released her cover version of the song “Boig per túa,” which would be “Mad For You” in English and “Loca pr ti” in Spanish — singing the number in its original Catalan tongue — she suddenly became the target of Spanish outrage. The song was first recorded by the Catalan pop group Sau.
As so often happens in the social media era, much of that anger found its clearest expression via Twiitter.
A sampling of the reaction to the Shakira version of “Boig per túa” includes:
“Shakira putting out a song in Catalan shows me this girl’s an imbecile.”
“I already thought Shakira was stupid, but singing a song in Catalan? That just proves it.”
“Shakira singing in Catalan? You make me sick.”
Others called the singer “disgusting” and a “traitor” because singing in Catalan proves that Shakira “openly supports” an independent Catalan state.
The album, simply titled Shakira, is officially released in the United States today, March 25. Billboard Magazine has praised the Shakira album as, “a set of convincing, honest music, on which the Colombian star often unabashedly professes her love for boyfriend Gerard Pique. Perhaps love is what makes this album soar.”
And perhaps that is also why Shakira recorded a track in Catalan. The 37-year-old Shakira now lives in the Catalan capital city of Barcelona with Pique — a star soccer player for the powerhouse Barcelona F.C., as well as for the Spanish national team. Shakira and Pique are parents to a one-year-old son.
Sharika has not responded publicly to the anti-Catalan backlash, nor has she taken a public stance on Catalan independence. But given the theme of her Shakira album, it seems more likely that including the Catalan track, reportedly a favorite song of both the singer and Gerard Pique, was intended as a tribute to her romantic partner, rather than as a political statement.