music / Columns

The Top 25 Jennifer Lopez and Shakira Tracks

October 2, 2019 | Posted by David Hayter
Jennifer Lopez Shakira

Well I certainly wasn’t expecting to be writing this list in 2019! Jennifer Lopez is off campaigning for an Oscar on the back of her riotous performances in Hustlers while Shakira, for her part, hasn’t released an English language album in five years – and yet, here they stand, dominating the music news cycle for one simple reason.

Suffice to say, when it comes to pop music, neither superstar is firing on all cylinders – but that’s of little or no concern to the NFL and Pepsi. The Superbowl Halftime show is about putting on one hell of a spectacle and JLo and Shakira have been summoned – and, suffice to say, they certainly offer an intriguing proposition.

Latin pop is in the ascendency, but there is no obvious outlet. Camilla Cabello is too young with too light a back catalogue, Roaslia is too weird and Bad Bunny just isn’t remotely big enough for the Super Bowl Stage. JLo is certainly back amongst the headlines, but if it’s the zeitgeist that NFL wants to capture, then why not offer the slot to her Hustlers’ co-stars Lizzo and Cardi B?

The answer is likely that the Superbowl is a family event. It wants to appear modern, but it also wants to woo grandparents – so they turn to the old hands and household names. Even if that means picking two pop icons who don’t necessarily compliment one another.

The Halftime Show could be a showstopper or it could be a car crash, who can honestly say, but in the meantime, let’s refresh our memories of Shakira and JLo’s considerable career highs.

Disclaimer: I have to told my hands up here, I’ve reviewed plenty of Shakira’s albums over the years (almost all of them in fact), but outside of the singles I’m less familiar with JLo’s work. So if there is an obvious album track missing let me know in the comments.

25. She Wolf (2009) 

There is always one lingering question when it comes to Shakira’s singles (and Latin crossover pop in general): is it actually any good or is it actively terrible? The fact that this question almost never has anything resembling a definitive answer explains the magic of the music itself. “She Wolf” is a preposterous and dizzying little pop song that sees Shakira (literally) howling “aah-oooooh”. It’s supposed to be strident and sexy, but it couldn’t possibly sound any camper with its Abba inspired touches and pounding G-A-Y house beat.

24. Donde Estan los Ladrones (1998)

Jagged Little Pill might be the vocal reference point for early Shakira as she warps and contorts her vocal, but she clearly has a big soft spot for 80s power pop and 70s FM radio rock. Now that her audience is older it would be genuinely intriguing to see Shakira go full rock and roll, but in some ways that wouldn’t be right: she’s always been a hybrid and “Donde Estan los Ladrones” speaks to her cross-cultural love affair with music.

23. Tu Boca (2010)

To be honest this slot could have gone to any track from Shakira’s 2010 LP Sale el Sol. Every offering is pitched in a different genre or style and each work is an absolute triumph – a testament to her flexibility and willingness to embrace new styles with a genuine loving respect. “Tu Boca” is perhaps the albums strangest cut: a genuine New Wave inspired indie rocker. The kind of track The Editors or Snow Patrol probably wish they could muster on their latest comeback LPs. Though if “Tu Boca” doesn’t float your boat, simply replace this entry with the beautiful ballad “Antes de las Seis”.

22. Jenny From The Block (2002)

Oh this was a really tough inclusion. The arrangement is so playful and unforgettable – who can can’t hum those whacky panpipes – and the track is full of signature flourishes, but it’s also painfully needy. Nothing says delusional, like a millionaire insisting that they are down-to-earth while also reminding you just how rich they are. “Jenny From The Block” is a bit like one of those false apologies – “I’m so sorry that you felt that way”, “Just because I’m wearing a fur coat and am about to sail away on a yacht, doesn’t mean I’m not just like you”. Luckily, “Jenny From The Block’s” undeniably playful presentation just about makes up for the absurdity of the whole affair.

21. Rabiosa (2010)

Oh come on, we had to include the most batshit track in Sharkira’s entire oeuvre. This is the She Wolf ditching any rules and diving into a world seduction is the silliest possible way. She could play it cool, but where’s the fun in that? Next to Shakira hooting, howling, panting madness, El Cata sounds like a stiff poser – Shakira is a force of nature rampaging on the back of jaunty accordion and Technicolor horn section. Rat Ta Ta!!!

20. Tu (1998)

Shakira’s music is so defiantly daffy (even during a bad break up she was howling at the moon) that it’s easy to forget that she does have a serious and soulful side. Back in 1998, when she fancied herself an alternative pop icon, “Tu” was her standout showstopper: a lingering and wilting ballad that cut through the 90s rock posturing that otherwise dominated her sophomore effort.

19. Get Right (2005)

By 2005 Amerie and Beyonce were the dominant cultural forces, so Jenny From The Block finally decided to stop playing catch up to Aaliyah and entered the world of tight loops and endless precision. “Get Right” is pretty much note perfect, absolutely locked on the beat and remorseless in its march. Look, it can’t hope to compete with “1 Thing” – especially with its undercooked chorus – but when it comes to a reset button hitting comeback single, JLo couldn’t have hoped for better.

18. Let’s Get Loud (1999)

Right it’s time to tango. This is another track that you just cannot imagine being released in 2019, but it was bang on trend in 1999. This was the era of Ricky Martin and Lou Bega after all. “Let’s Get Loud” is hardly a song, most of its run time sees Jennifer panting, ad-libbing and unleashing a serious of call-and-repeat chants– and that’s all she needed to do. The goal is to dance and feel good, so there’s no time for slowing it down or moping, this is a party after all. “On The Floor” would sell more copies, but “Let’s Get Loud” is far less cynical and actually triumphs on its feel good nativity.

17. Waka Waka (This Time For Africa) (2010)

Okay so sports songs, with a few notable exceptions (“Three Lions”, “World In Motion”, etc…), tend to be terrible (see Muse’s Olympic anthem), but despite the painful verse full of weird sports movie clichés – “Waka Waka” is a joy and a phenomenon. It’s very rare to find a truly global hit and Shakira was the perfect vessel to provide one: a feel good ambassador for silliness who’ll happily blend the sounds of Africa, Europe and America. Really this song has no business being on a best of list, but I can’t think of a more well meaning song that has brought more joy to more people – “Tsamina mina zangalewa, eh! eh! Waka Waka, eh! eh!”

16. I’m Real – Remix (2002)

This was a match made in heaven. Jennifer Lopez at her understated best, slyly mocking “insecure” posting men as she outlines her dream lover, while Ja Rule is unabashedly preposterous. THUGS NEED LUV!!! He is loud and brash during the intro, but he actually shares JLo’s sweetness during his verse. This bizarre blend of styles is brought together by a masterfully executed slow jam beat that thrives on it’s softly-softly minimalism and gentle swing. Why leave all the conversational pop songs to country music, eh?

15. Don’t Bother (2005) 

“She’s got the kind of look that defies gravity…she’s been to private school and she speaks perfect French”. Shakira really did reel off some of the best pop lyrics of the mid-2000s. She has a wonderfully acidic and humorous way of presenting her envy and anger in a way that keeps the listener onside. The only disappointment is that “Don’t Bother” peaks just before the chorus when Shakira spitefully spits: “She’s just far better than me”. The middle-of-the-road hook than ensues that the track remains catchy, but underpowered. If Shakira or her producers had the guts to really let the guitars rip and her wail, “Don’t Bother” could have topped this list.

14. Ain’t It Funny (Both Versions) (2001)

Oh come on, I couldn’t not include this track. It’s so wonderfully camp and wilfully preposterous it had to be on the list. A roaming romantic Latina-cum-gypsy saunter of verse somehow bridges into a snappy R&B girl group harmonised chorus. This is a proper, old fashion, polished, fantasist pop. “Ain’t It Funny” wouldn’t get made in 2019. It wouldn’t be good for an artist’s brand (it’s so fundamentally uncool), but what’s wrong with having a little fun with an insidiously catchy and knowingly naff hit? Well perhaps her label didn’t fancy the risk and commissioned a Ja Rule assisted alternative version just a year later. Luckily the R&B version offers delicious calm, collected, cold-hearted rejection.

13. Objection (Tango) (2001)

So Shakira has always alluded to the “Tango”, but in 2001 she stopped playing it coy and dived right in. Of course the result wasn’t a classic Spanish ballad, no that’d be far too dull. Shakira picked up her guitar to served up a rollicking fuax-60s rocker full of brilliant lyrics like: “Next to her cheap silicon I feel minimal/Right in front of your eyes I’m invisible”. So whether you prefer a bit of ballroom action or love to do the swim in your best hippie garb, this is the song for you.

12. I’m Gonna Be Alright (Nas Remix)  (2002)

The original version of “I’m Gonna Be Alright” was loveable but insipid. The hip hop remix not only added some dramatic strings and a club ready beat, but, by affording JLo some breathing room, the sweetness and drama of the narrative is free to flourish. This is one of the 2000s best “independent ladies” anthems, even if it tends to fly under the radar today because it doesn’t wear its self-loving message on its sleeve.

11. La Tortura (2005)

Shakira is rarely taken seriously these days and with some justification: she stands some way removed from her creative peak, but we should never forget just how fresh and exciting her instrumental choices sounded to Western audiences in the early 2000s. “La Tortura” tip-toes towards Reggaeton, but remains defiantly Latin with its unmistakable accordion. The guest rap verse may add little to contemporary ears, but Shakira felt like a popstar from another planet when “La Tortura” was battling for airplay with “We Belong Together” and “Loose Control” back in ‘05.

10. Love Don’t Cost A Thing (2001) 

In 2001, Jennifer Lopez was possible the strangest popstar on the planet. She was an ultra-famous moviestar with world famous lover who was absolutely obsessed with credibility and earthiness. It seems bizarre and while the messaging, from the goading (“I’m Real”) to the really rather lovely “Love Don’t Cost A Thing”, feels like hollow posturing, it’s hard to deny just how effective these singles were. Lopez was clearly enamoured with Aaliyah and Timbaland – and while she couldn’t possibly hope to rival “We Need A Revolution”, there’s nothing wrong with learning the best of the best. Hell, at least on “Love Don’t Cost A Thing” we don’t have to hear Timbaland rap and Jenny’s love over money rhymes are free to flourish.

9. No Creo (1998)

One of the qualities that sets Shakira apart form JLo – and it is very apparent looking back at their best work – is that the Colombian star could very clearly bear the influence of other artists without sounding remotely false. It’s no secret that Shakira’s debut was inspired by Alanis Morrissette (who wasn’t in the 90s?), but aside from the odd vocal creak, Shakira ploughs her own furrow, switching between 90s rawk illusions and wild ad-libbing sequences. Rapid-fire lyrics, bizarre vocal contortions and an utterly addictive chorus are squeezed around a ground swell of angst and, oddly, a dose of harmonica. Sadly, the production feels a touch soft and weak to modern ears, but overlook “No Creo” at your peril.

8. Whenever, Wherever (2001)

Unleash the panpipes and salute to the ladies whose breasts are “small and humble”. Of course “Whenever, Wherever” made it onto to this countdown. This was Shakira’s delightfully bonkers introduction to Western audiences – and what an introduction, from the Colombian beat and Arabic illusions, to the belly dancing groove, farcically brilliant lyrics and bizarre warbling – “Whenever, Wherever” was and is full force Shakira.

7. Play (2001)

“Play” is probably Jennifer Lopez most slept on hit single. It rarely comes to mind whenever her biggest hits are listed, lacking the pop cultural capital of “Jenny From The Block” or “I’m Glad”, but the track is an understated jewel. The song is a clear love letter to the harsh snap of 1980s and specifically Rhythm Nation. This is Jennifer Lopez translating the metronomic precision of Janet Jackson and Prince into the kind of tonal palette a 2000s audience could appreciate. The decision to soften the edges of 80s artificiality turned out to be a shrewd move and “Play” stands as the most singular and unique hit Lopez’s back catalogue.

6. Underneath Your Clothes (2001)

Shakira could certainly shock and draw smiles in 2001, but she had to prove that she could truly move English language audiences. Laundry Service needed a standout out ballad and that’s where the syrupy and knowingly dated (even at the time) “Underneath My Clothes” came in. It’s a glorious mash-up of Shakira’s loves from Beatles’ horns and “Dream On’s” chord progressions to Alanis’ inflections, 4-Non Blondes warbles and Gwen Stefani’s vocal phrasing. This was a love letter to her rock heroes disguised in the form of a conventional mainstream ballad. “Underneath Your Clothes” is immaculately observed and remarkably affecting effort that’s all the better for its cheesy embellishments.

5. Ojos Asi (1998)

Introducing the best Eurovision song contest winner to have never been entered in the contest. Yes, “Ojos Asi” represents that perfect and utterly absurd blend of cultures (reaching all the way from Arabia to Patagonia) that is normally reserved for the world’s zaniest music contest. The thing is, like a great Eurovision entry (although far better executed and produced), “Ojos Asi” is just undeniably addictive. The pace is unrelenting and the song only becomes more intoxication as Shakira dances up a sand storm back by bizarrely straightfaced chants. What’s more incredible is that his wildly ambitious offering was a) released as a single and b) on album designed to position Shakira as a harder edge alternative inspired popster.

4. Si Te Vas (1998)

Shakira can be a crazy chick at times (well, on record at least, she seems remarkable composed, thoughtful and humane in really life). “Si Te Vas” is overflowing with emotion and utterly unhinged as Shakira growls and howls her way into the softly-cascading chorus. The track is an absolute banger, even if this is the Alanis imitation that cuts closest to the bone, but who honestly cares when the guitar solo slides into action and Shakira starts to freak the fuck out?

3. Waiting For Tonight (1999)

It would take JLo a decade to return to her dancefloor roots, but she’d never be able to capture the cynicism free joy of “Waiting For Tonight”. There is an undeniable naffness to the arrangement, but that’s part of its charm. It took an eternity  for this type of club banger to come back into fashion and it certainly sounded dated back in 99 with its Ace Of Base illusions, but “Waiting For Tonight” functions perfectly as an end of an era anthem. The sweetie pie, lost in the music, wail-along – a style Lopez would abandon in a search for street level credibility. The bridge is an absolute peach.

2. If You Had My Love (1996)

Jennifer Lopez would become a much bigger star and shift a lot more copies of later singles, but “If You Had My Love” is undoubtedly her creative peak. The arrangement might be both soft and oddly artificial, but there’s a tenderness that’s so delicious 90s as Darkchild straddles the on coming storm of Timbaland’s sonics. This is classic R&B from an era before sex and bass completely superseded sweetness. This is the closest JLo would ever come to rivalling Aaliyah with a thoughtful, imploring and open-hearted gesture to her lover.

1. Hips Don’t Lie (2005)

This is just the best pop song imaginable. Well actually it’s not – The Beatles would have quite a lot to say about that and, to be fair, “If You Had My Love” is probably a “better song”, but that’s not the point. When “Hips Don’t Lie” winds it way out of our speakers it is the greatest thing since sliced bred: a pure shot of soft-focused sexuality, carnival joy and unadulterated uplift. “Hips Don’t Lie” lives in, dies in and absolutely owns the moment. How can anyone frown when this track drops? It’s so eminently danceable, it’s so unrepentantly joyous and it’s so damn silly in all the best possible ways. I will never not dance when this song comes on – who cares if “Hips Don’t Lie” is more of a wedding disco classic than a club anthem in 2019, like Abba, the more dated and uncool this song becomes, the better it sounds.

article topics :

Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, David Hayter