Monday, April 9, 2012

Metalhead of the Day: Shakira

Normally, having a public affinity for "Back in Black," "Nothing Else Matters" or "Dude Looks Like a Lady" wouldn't be enough to grant anyone Metalhead of the Day status. That being said, Shakira is not a normal lady, and there's something special about hearing her tackle all three of those songs.

Shakira is probably not a hard rock expert, which is part of what makes her perfect for these covers. Most dedicated headbangers probably skip over "Nothing Else Matters," take "Back in Black" for granted and hope to never hear "Dude Looks Like a Lady" ever again. Their creators are almost certainly sick of them. But Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll finds something new in these songs, and she performs them with the gusto that we initially gave them.

At an MTV tribute to Aerosmith, Shakira rocked harder than that band or that channel has in ages. She nailed "Dude Looks Like a Lady" into something sassy and sultry, pulling off the scream like a champ and finishing up with a measure of "Sweet Emotion" for kicks. Her version is not perfect (you can skip that harmonica solo,) but it is rock n' roll. Wait for Steven Tyler trying to steal the show on the last chorus. He can't.

If the best covers pay respect to the originals while putting a new stamp on them, then Shakira's take on "Back in Black" is up there. Her range is in a much lower register than Brian Johnson's, and it shows, especially in the chorus. Still, she has enough guts to make it work for her. She starts by giving one of the most beloved rock staples of all time a slinky new arrangement, then erupts when the signature groove kicks in. Let's also say that she stays busy during the instrumental parts.

Joining the phenomenon of girls covering "Nothing Else Matters," Shakira does it best. She imagines Metallica's finest ballad as a flamenco waltz, graced with triplets and entrenched between verses of one of her originals, "La Despedida." Listen to how the crowd sings along. I wonder how many Metallica fans know the words to "She Wolf."

Well done, Shakira. If you cover "Angel of Death" next, I will get tickets.

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