Should Have Been Bigger: Shakira’s Quirky “Don’t Bother”
In 2001, Shakira made the leap from Latin queen to global superstar with Laundry Service. That opus produced the seminal hits “Whenever, Wherever” and “Underneath Your Clothes,” and went on to sell a whopping 13 million copies around the world. Expectations for the followup were sky-high, particularly when it was revealed that she would be releasing dual albums — one in Spanish and one in English. The former, Fijación Oral Vol. 1, was rolled out in mid-2005 and became the highest-selling latin pop album of the decade on the back of mega-hit “La Tortura.”
Six months later, Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 was introduced with “Don’t Bother” and people didn’t quite know what to make of it. A seething pop/rock anthem with oddball lyrics about Tai Chi and communist countries, the self-produced manifesto is one of the quirkiest singles of the 2000s. It also happens to be one of the best. I can’t think of a better example of post-breakup self-pity/defiance than the infamous flea lyric. “She’s almost six feet tall, she must think I’m a flea,” Shakira laments, before correcting herself with: “I’m really a cat, you see and it’s not my last life at all.” Pop has rarely been so raw, unfiltered and poetic.
Other critics lamented the schizophrenic emotions (in one verse she’s bitter, in the next she’s longing for reconciliation), but I think it captures the emotional rollercoaster of a breakup perfectly. Unfortunately, “Don’t Bother” was a little too weird for pop radio and stalled at number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100. To add insult to injury, the track was almost erased from the history books when “Hips Don’t Lie” was rushed out as a measure of damage control and has been absent from her last two tours including the recently-commenced El Dorado Tour.
It’s not for everyone, but I’m very, very glad “Don’t Bother” exists. Revisit the underrated anthem below.