Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” Turns 10

Mike Wass | May 7, 2020 2:40 pm
Shakira & Anuel AA's 'Me Gusta' Video
Shakira teams up with Anuel AA for a big-budget 'Me Gusta' video.

While Shakira’s signature song in the US is a tossup between “Whenever Wherever” and “Hips Don’t Lie,” for most of the world it’s “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa).” Released on this day in 2010, the FIFA World Cup theme song topped the charts in more than a dozen countries and sold an estimated 15 million downloads, making it one of the highest-selling digital singles of all time. Not only that, but the visual is a phenomenon. It ranks as the 28th most-watched video on YouTube with a staggering 2.5 billion views.

The appeal of “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” — apart from its ingenious sampling of Golden Sounds’Zangaléwa” — lies in its ability to capture the rush of adrenalin that kicks in when you push yourself to the limit, whether it be in a sporting event or other life activity. “You’re a good soldier, choosing your battles,” Colombia’s Greatest Export begins the song. “Pick yourself up and dust yourself off, get back in the saddle.” Shakira then urges you to aim for greatness while South Africa’s Freshlyground band imbues the song with the intoxicating sound of the continent.

“The pressure’s on, you feel it,” she belts on the pre-chorus. “But you got it all, believe it.” That takes us to the epic chorus, which rivals “Theme From Rocky” or “Eye of The Tiger” in the fist-pumping stakes. “Waka Waka” is also one of those rare songs that refuses to age. It was so different from anything else being played on the radio that it almost exists in its own bubble. There are no dated synths or cringe-inducing features, just a timeless song that came together in a once-in-a-generation act of pop alchemy.

Revisit Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” below.

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