Sunday, August 30, 2009

Musical Interlude: Shakira

There are a number of songs in the rock cannon that are considered sacred - especially by purists. "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen is one. "Back in Black" by AC/DC is another. If you're going to cover one of these tunes, you damned well better do it right. I've seen too many bad covers of "Bohemian Rhapsody" (the only good cover I ever saw was by a female vocalist who had an incredible vocal range and just the right stage presence).

I'd never seen anyone cover "Back in Black" and this could have been a disaster. For starters, Shakira doesn't have a reputation as a hard rock vocalist, at least in the US (though don't be fooled - hard rock influences abound in her songs). She and her touring band however prove to be up to the challenge, making the song theirs in the process. The intro is sultry - much different from AC/DC, but it works for Shakira. As the tune progresses, she and her band also prove quite capable of rocking out every bit as much as AC/DC while adding a few of their own touches (I love the addition of Latin percussion elements, and the band has a guitarist who seems to hold his own when it comes time to solo). She has a beautiful voice that works well here, and no offense to AC/DC, but she is much easier on the eyes.

It's cool to see recording artists go out and defy expectations. Shakira's cover of "Back in Black" won't please AC/DC purists (just check the comments to the Youtube video, which could make for a sociological or psychological study in their own right). However, the purists aren't her intended audience. It might satisfy open-mind fans of either Shakira or AC/DC, though.

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