Shakira’s Self-Titled LP Turns 5: We Look Back On “Empire”
March 25 is holy day for pop aficionados. It not only gave us Britney Spears’ Femme Fatale in 2011, but also blessed us with Shakira’s self-titled LP in 2014. The latter ranks as one of the most-eclectic albums of the Colombian superstar’s career. From the reggae-tinged, Rihanna-assisted “Can’t Remember To Forget You” to the club-ready “Dare (La La La),” she gave us a little bit of everything. Including a country duet with Blake Shelton and a soaring rock anthem that channeled Alanis Morissette.
Yes, I’m referring to the album’s slept-on second single. Given the wide array of radio-ready pop songs on Shakira (“Spotlight,” “The One Thing” and, my favorite, “Chasing Shadows”), “Empire” was something of a gamble. Beginning as an acoustic ballad, the track soon switches gears and finds the 42-year-old wailing like a rock goddess. “Let the empires of the world unite, we are alive,” she belts on the cosmic chorus. “And the stars make love to the universe, you’re my wildfire every single night.”
Produced by Steve Mac (before he became pop’s go-to hitmaker with Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You”), the quirky track is a testament to Shakira’s inability to play it safe and versatility as an artist. Unfortunately, despite a handful of high-profile TV appearances and one of the best videos of her career, “Empire” failed to make much of an impact on the charts — stalling at number 58 on the Billboard Hot 100. I guess the enduring legend was just too ahead of the curve (as usual). Revisit “Empire,” which has aged like fine wine, below.