Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Shakira’s new album ‘She Wolf’ lacks bite

By Dean Goodman
December 17, 2009

Unless your name is Taylor Swift or Michael Jackson, it’s been yet another tough year for pop stars. New discs from the likes of U2, Mariah Carey, Tim McGraw, Bon Jovi, 50 Cent and Norah Jones have sharply underperformed. Overall U.S. album sales in 2009 are on track to slide for the eighth time in nine years.

shakiraShakira is the latest addition to the casualty list. The Colombian sex symbol‘s electronica-fueled new album looks to be her weakest performer in almost 10 years. “She Wolf,” Shakira’s third English-language recording, currently stands at No. 43 on the Billboard 200, two weeks after debuting at No. 15 with puny sales of 89,000 units. Sales to date stand at 158,000 — equivalent to what current Billboard 200 champ Susan Boyle’s debut album sold in its first 1.5 days, last month.

Shakira’s label is not too worried. “After a four year hiatus, Shakira came back with a great album and we are very happy with its progress, this project was never about the first month for us,” said a spokeswoman for Epic Records.

Shakira’s previous English-language disc, “Oral Fixation Vol. 2,” debuted at No. 5 with 128,000 copies in December 2005, six months after the Spanish-language “Fijacion Oral Vol. 1″ entered at No. 4 with 157,000. Her debut English-language outing, “Laundry Service,” opened at No. 3 with 202,000 copies in November 2001. Before that, her best performer was the 2000 “MTV Unplugged set,” which reached No. 124. Shakira’s career sales stand at about 50 million units worldwide.

“She Wolf,” considered her most overt nod yet to the American market, had a bumpy ride to stores. The title track stalled at No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart, despite a werewolf-themed video that coincidentally tapped into the “Twilight” zeitgeist. The follow-up, “Give It Up To Me,” featuring Lil Wayne, reached No. 29. Epic hopes it will rebound because of an increase in radio airplay.

The album’s scheduled Oct. 13 release in the United States was delayed by six weeks, but the international rollout went ahead. The album — dubbed “Loba” in Hispanic markets — reached No. 1 in 18 countries, according to Epic. Her manager Ceci Kurzman has said that two-thirds of Shakira’s overall sales come from outside of the United States. Critics wanted to like the album — who doesn’t want to like Shakira? But they seemed vexed. Adjectives included “bizarre” (New York Times) and “kooky” (Rolling Stone).

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