She’s been burning your TV since the 1990s. Here are her finest moments so far.
From the beginning of her career, Shakira has always understood the power of strong imagery and a distinct visual identity, which has helped her become the global force she is today.
Her first videos helped established her as an earthy, raven-haired singer-songwriter with a sharp point of view and the ability to put her feelings into words with stunning clarity. Later, she used her visuals to guide multiple transformations, proving her to be one of pop’s most chameleonic superstars. She’d go from artsy guitar player to raging rock diva to choreo queen over the years, revealing new layers each time.
On Tuesday, Shakira will receive MTV’s Video Vanguard award, making her the first South American artist recognized with the honor. To celebrate the award, we dove into her lengthy discography and picked out the best videos of the Colombian multi-hyphenate’s impressive, barrier-shattering career.
‘Girl Like Me’
Alright, we’ll admit, this isn’t the best song ever, but the video was full of playful, kitschy camp, and it deserves to be mentioned, just because Shakira having an Eighties workout moment is so delightful. (Shakira told Billboard at the time, “From the beginning I thought: Jane Fonda. Those ’80s workout videos had a really cool aesthetic I wanted to import into this video.”) Even while sitting down, she executes fierce hair-ography, all between shots of her Black Eyed Peas collaborators. The video is a reminder of how much fun Shakira has when she’s on set, and what a natural performer she is.–L.V.
Shakira’s 2014 video for “Empire” felt a little like a gorgeous beauty ad, packed to the brim with cinematic visuals: At the very beginning, we see Shakira in an exquisite white wedding down, making her way into a church covered in flowers. Just as the song explodes into a guitar breakdown, she runs out, letting the cameras of directors Darren Craig, Jonathan Craven and Jeff Nicholas capture lush green fields and mountains. Perhaps one of the most striking scenes is Shakira standing outside the church, her white dress set ablaze by bright flames. –J.L.
If anyone needed proof of Shakira’s chameleonic powers, 2017’s video for “Chantaje” is a good place to start. The Colombian pop veteran teamed up with Maluma, then one of the most sought-after rising stars in the Latin scene, and proved not only that she could keep up with the younger heartthrobs in the industry — she could outshine them. Shakira is the star of the show, mesmerizing Maluma with each of her moves and helping blueprint an era of feel-good, massively commercial pop-reggaeton.–J.L.
‘Se Quiere, Se Mata’
This song, off of Pies Descalzos, is one of Shakira’s most polarizing and baffling moments to date. The lyrics, about a young couple so stressed out about what their families will think about an unplanned pregnancy, could be seen as an anti-abortion message; others have heard it as a criticism of the lack of sex education and safe reproductive options. Whatever the message she wanted to convey, Shakira brought in director Juan Carlos Martin to guide the video’s slightly dream-like, Nineties vibe. Her choice to cast León Larregui, the singer of the famed Mexican rock band Zoé, as Braulio, the male protagonist in the song’s tragic narrative, is another reason the video has remained so memorable.–J.L.
Ever the hit-maker, Shakira’s 2010 World Cup anthem quickly became a global smash— generating a viral music video in the process. In the playful video, the Colombian artist dances with South African band Freshlyground and is joined with a bevy of artists and children decked out in traditional garbs to honor host country South Africa. Inspirational clips from key World Cup moments throughout history are spliced in between the communal shots, making the video feel like an accurate portrayal of the global experience that is the World Cup. Shakira fans will also remember the personal significance here: This is the video set where she met her former partner Gerard Piqué.–M.G.
“Don’t Bother” see Shakira in the grip of post-breakup paranoia. In the video, she sings into her partner’s ear (as he lies shirtless in a deep sleep) about his deception and decision to leave her for a perfect-seeming alternative, despite how much she’d do for him. Sure, there’s self-pity here, but the real power of the video comes in its flame-hot rage, as Shakira rocks out on guitar and seeks revenge by wrecking her lover’s sports car. “A man’s car is like an extension of their ego and their manhood,” she told the New York Times in 2005. “Inside me, there’s a real jealous beast I’m trying to tame.”–T.M.
A run-down barn is a witness to the passage of time in the lo-fi, sepia-toned music video for “Estoy Aquí.” The music video for Pies Descalzos‘s first single would be an otherwise amusing relic of bad montages if it weren’t for the black-haired, barely 18-year-old Shakira strumming her acoustic guitar and belting out the melancholy ballad that has undoubtedly soundtracked many road trips, showers, and weddings (Latino ones, at least). The video’s magic lies in its ability to transport us back to a simpler time — one of fake snow and strange video transitions that is best enjoyed during a late-night, after-hours YouTube scroll.–V.D.
‘Te Dejo Madrid’
Shakira challenged masculine tropes in her cinematic “Te Dejo Madrid” music video. In between shots of a male bullfighter who appeared to be full of himself, Shakira stepped in to don the traditional traje de luces, taking on the role of a matador herself. Instead of battling with a bull, using a pair of scissors to give herself a quick makeover. The video and the song’s production both presented opportunities for Shakira to try new things and dive deeper into new genres, with nods Spanish culture and influences from Madrid.–L.V.
With her tiny black braids and snug, leather-everything outfit, Shakira was a rock-and-roll princess for her “Inevitable” video. Performing to a wrap-around crowd she head-bangs and high-kicks her way through the iconic first drop, while a cheer of stadium-proportion follows her throughout the track. “Inevitable” is one of Shakira’s best post-love songs, building and bursting at every turn. In this video, surrounded by glitter and bubbles, she doesn’t have to mourn her former lover’s absence – she can just sing about it in the company of thousands of her dearest fans.–V.D.
‘Can’t Remember to Forget You’
Rihanna brings the reggae, Shakira brings the rock — they both bring the allure. The Joseph Kahn-directed “Can’t Remember For You” video captured the seductive, sapphic tension between two pop-star friends after heartbreak. At the peak of their careers, Rih and Shak smoke cigars on a bed, gyrate on walls, and caress each other’s bodies in some of the video’s most beloved scenes. It’s currently one of Shakira’s most popular clips, boasting a cool 1.2 billion YouTube views.–T.M.
‘Dónde Estás Corazón’
Shakira almost gave up her music dreams after putting out two albums — Peligro and Magia— that sold just a few thousand copies each. But even while turning her attention to acting on a Colombian soap opera for a few years, she kept writing songs—and “Donde Estas Corazon” became her first breakthrough hit at the local level. A video directed by Gustavo Garzón became a statement about the type of artist she wanted to be: Shakira, who was just 18 at the time, is a raven-haired, guitar-playing singer-songwriter, drawn to natural landscapes and folksy, hippie-dippie references.–J.L.
Two major pop queens joined forces when Beyoncé enlisted Shakira for her empowering “Beautiful Liar” music video, which ended up a knockout collaboration that still striking today. After getting played by the same guy, both women appeared to harness the power of the elements with their synchronized moves and belly dancing. At some points, it’s hard to tell who is who — Beyoncé is incredibly skilled at the choreography, inspired by Shakira’s signature belly-dancing moves. The two of them are perfectly united, doubling their joint charisma. –L.V.
After the success of her ballad “Underneath Your Clothes,” Shakira was ready to try some new things. The video for “Objection,” one of the catchiest tunes on Laundry Service, showed her blending her rock-driven side with some belly-dancing, and then adding a dose of tango for good measure. Directed by Dave Meyers, it starts with Shakira pulling off intricate, ballroom-style choreography by Tina Landon. Soon, the video erupts into animation, which includes an epic showdown between Shakira and a blonde villain who’s implant she pops before jumping back into a live-action jam session with her band.–J.L.
‘Lo Hecho Está Hecho’
Following her landmark hit “She Wolf,” Shakira was back at it with the video for “Lo Hecho Esta Hecho,” or “Did it Again,” released in both languages. The track, another collaboration with Pharrell, gave Shakira a chance to put her dance skills on display through powerful dancing led by choreographer Katrin Hall, who worked on the video with Shakira and “Hips Don’t Lie” director Sophie Muller. The scenes were dotted with artistic influences taken from all over the globe. In addition to the dancing, influenced by Icelandic traditions, Shakira incorporated nods to Lawrence Alma-Tadema paintings, Moroccan culture, and traditional Korean drumming. –J.L.
Shakira has always understood the art of simplicity, and her stripped-back, black-and-white video for “Tu” is one of her most poignant. Emilio Estefan, her manager for a brief but important period, directed the visuals, guiding Shakira as she sang this power ballad in an unvarnished, Sixties-style living room. She casually interacts with the set, opening the fridge, shaving her legs, and sitting near a string quartet that joins her at one point. The one-track shots drew in the audience and demonstrated how natural her star power was, even at such a young age.–J.L.
‘Las De La Intuición’
Some of the visuals for Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 felt like Shakira’s most liberated, and “Las De La Intuición” shows her having a ton of fun. Taking inspiration from the work of German photographer Helmut Newton, Shakira directed the video alongside Jaume de Laiguana and seemed to have a blast vamping it up in a purple wig that’s now seared into our collective memory. Her corset-style outfits and come-hither moves played on the double-entendres in the song while letting her get in touch with a playful, unapologetically sexy side of pop stardom.–J.L.
‘Underneath Your Clothes’
The Herb Ritts-directed video for Shakira’s English-language ballad “Underneath Your Clothes” is a snapshot of the Colombian singer’s life as a touring musician who misses “the man [she] chose.” The video sparked political controversy for featuring Shakira’s then boyfriend, Antonio de la Rúa — the son of ousted Argentine president Fernando de la Rúa. After the clip was released, Tower Records Argentina banned sales of Laundry Service in protest of de la Rúa’s family.–M.G.
“Ojos Asi” was a tribute to Shakira’s Lebanese heritage, and she played a role in even the most minute details of the song: According to producers who worked with her, Shakira guided an arrangement of authentic Arabic instruments, down to little finger bells a woman performed in the studio. The video was no different; it captured Shakira’s eye for bold, vibrant color and statement-making imagery. Plus, it established the belly-dancing skills she’d been working on since she was a child, a talent that would become her signature and play a massive role in her artistry later on.–J.L.
“No” is easily one of Shakira’s most gut-wrenching, emotionally powered songs about heartbreak, one that features Argentine legend Gustavo Cerati on guitar and backing vocals. The video got a gorgeous treatment, worthy of the message in the lyrics. She teamed up again with the Spanish director Jaume de Laiguana, who she also worked with for “Las De La Intuición,” and appears sitting in a shipyard, looking completely shattered. She tears up as she sings verses about ending a relationship and, in between, slowly works on repairing a pair of wings. In the last scene, just before the video cuts out, she stands on the edge of a cliff, ready to take off.–J.L.
A year after Laundry Service’s “Whenever, Wherever” became Shakira’s breakthrough hit in the U.S., the singer told Rolling Stone: “I come to seduce.” In the video for her first Billboard-charting track, Shakira is doing exactly that as she conquers mountainous terrain and natural elements with her sensual dancing. The video was boundary-breaking — and not just for its iconic mud scene — since the song’s Spanish version, “Suerte,” was the first Spanish-language video aired on MTV.–M.G.
‘Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos’
Shakira has always loved a touch of absurdity, and her video for “Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos” was a surrealist look at the societal pressures women face with a rocker’s edge. Shakira leans on imagery that takes its cues from arthouse movies, Biblical references, and museum paintings — there’s an Eyes Wide Shut-style costume party, a woman devouring an apple, and a Dali-like desert of high heels. All of it served to establish Shakira as a brainy, carefree flower child who didn’t fit the mold, and who’d always challenge herself and her fans.–J.L.
“She Wolf” made waves with its upbeat, synth-pop driven sound, and the way it let Shakira really show off her dancing skills. The video, another project with “Beautiful Liar” directed Jake Nava, still stands as a testament to Shakira’s athleticism as she belly dances through a crowd, flips her way through a gilded cage, and twirls under a full moon, letting it all out in carefree abandon. It was yet another transformation for the ever-changing pop queen that would highlight her signature moves as she unlocked another stage of superstardom.–J.L.
The queen of reinvention was at her best with “La Tortura,” the Alejandro Sanz collaboration that practically lit televisions on fire. It wasn’t just that the two artists had steamy, undeniable chemistry. The video, directed by Michael Haussman, was also full of clever scenes that felt like pure Shakira. When Sanz thinks she’s crying about losing him, the camera quickly reveals that Shakira is simply chopping onions — a funny bit of irony, in line with the humor she’s always loved. Shakira dancing in the mud and performing on a table are other nods to her unpredictable brand, and reasons the video got nominations at the VMAs and the Latin Grammys.–J.L.
‘Hips Don’t Lie’
For her biggest global hit, Shakira famously did not compromise for the sake of the American audience and made sure the visual accompaniment felt as authentically tied to her roots as the lyrics and rhythm. What better way to celebrate the Caribbean city she shouts out than to throw a party that resembles Carnival de Barranquilla down to the costumes and decorations? With 1.3 billion views on YouTube and a 2006 VMA for Best Choreography, Shakira introduced the masses to a truly Carnival-style party.–M.G.
In 1998, Shakira released “Ciega Sordomuda,” the first single from Dónde Están los Ladrones?, the breakthrough album that made her a massive star across Latin America. The song’s video, directed by Gustavo Garzón, reflected the album’s smart, witty, unexpected tone — and the visuals are easily her most memorable, especially for hardcore Shakira fans. The whole thing starts with surprises immediately: As the opening trumpets pipe in, the camera pans up to show a woman mouthing the first lines of the track. It’s not Shakira —she’s busy having fun at a street party, which the police quickly breaks up.
These policemen haul Shakira to jail, setting the scene for several unforgettable images of Shakira getting booked by cops and sitting in a crowded cell. Eventually, her lover breaks her out, and the visuals become a brilliant metaphor for the lyrics, which are all about how dumb and blind she feels love has made her. Shakira drives a car, a line of police cars at her tail, with a handkerchief pulled firmly over her eyes. When the song’s super-fast rap breakdown starts, Shakira delivers one more iconic moment: She’s dresses up as a mannequin to hide from the police, spitting out every line of the razor-sharp verse from a shop window.–J.L.