Loving separations have always yielded good songs. let’s remember the record rumorsfrom the band Fleetwood Macreleased in 1977 and surrounded by the aura of pain in which it was produced, recorded and released: the separation of two of the members of the group.
There is no shortage of examples in the context of popular music; we find them in all musical genres and artistic trajectories. From “divas” like Aretha Franklin and Adele, to rappers like Drake and Kanye West, the songs that emerged in the midst of love turbulence have always gained added value when we contemplate them on a large scale in media culture.
It is the preamble that sets the scene for the most recent song “of lovesickness and overcoming” that has gone viral on digital platforms. “Shakira Bzrp Music Sessions 53”, produced by the Argentine DJ Bizarrap and performed by the Colombian Shakira, is about a woman who “gets over” the end of a relationship while accusing her ex of leaving her for “another one”.
The topic would be about the end of the singer’s relationship with soccer player Gerard Piqué, which occurred in June 2022 after Shakira discovered a betrayal by her then-husband and put an end to a twelve-year marriage and two children in common. .
Since its release on January 11, “Shakira Bzrp Music Sessions 53” has had a remarkable performance on digital platforms. In the first 24 hours, the song had almost 15 million views, making it the most listened to song in Spanish on streaming in a single day.
According to data from Spotify, it is the song in Spanish that has reached first place the fastest on its “Spotify Global” playlist and, at the same time, the most successful among all those that Shakira has released on the platform.
“Shakira Bzrp Music Sessions 53” (title that refers to the collaborative projects of the Argentine producer with other performers) became a hit, entering the stops of audio and video platforms in thirty-three countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. On YouTube, the song is considered the biggest debut by a Latino performer in the history of the platform, with 50 million views in 24 hours.
Shakira’s Bizarrap session breaks the record for biggest debut by any Latin song in YouTube history with 50 MILLION views in 24 hours. pic.twitter.com/c2H7JsJwjX
— Pop Base (@PopBase) January 13, 2023
The virality of “Shakira Bzrp Music Sessions 53” is due to ingredients that encompass both the composition of the song (by Shakira in collaboration with Gonzalo Conde, “Keytin” Cruz Moreno and Santiago Alvarado), which reveals “hints” for the ex of the singer, as well as the ability of the lyrics to create speculation and diverse readings that suggest that it is the “anthem” of the term between Shakira and Piqué.
“I am a lot for you, that is why you have had to find another one at your level”, sings the Colombian in a tone that oscillates between anger and disdain. In one of the most heated moments of the song (disguised by a slightly jaded song) Shakira blurts out: “I don’t even know what happened to you / ‘You’re so weird that I don’t even distinguish you / I’m worth two out of 22”, possibly referring to at the age of Piqué’s new partner, Clara Chía Mari, 23.
From love to hate there is a step
In one way or another, pop music has always been linked to the performance, in the media sphere, of clippings from the biography of artists and celebrities. The phenomenon is not born with Shakira nor does it end with her. But, in the case of its most recent success, there is something new under the sun: since it was created in 2005, YouTube has become a space for the consumption of video clips, and also for the generation of debates and public conversations by audiences. , which add meaning to the sound and audiovisual materials that circulate on the platform.
Online interactions raise the heat on social networks as discussions spill over to other digital environments such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. Thus, a “climate” favorable to large-scale speculation is created. Thus, sets of assumptions, conjectures and ideas are gaining new nuances with each interaction that is added to the debate. With each thread (story) that is basted to the network.
The culture of speculation generates what we call in musical studies a “dramatic picture” activated by the pop song and in which, converted into characters that mobilize affections (whether it be love, hate, contempt or revenge) we are summoned , as listeners or viewers, to “inhabit” the drama of the celebrity who plays them. In other words: the song and its developments make us part of the drama they recreate.
In the case of “Shakira Bzrp Music Sessions 53”, the Colombian diva is placed in the first person, representing the betrayed woman who, in order to overcome pain, potentiates her own value using, among other resources, central material symbols for capitalism ( “You traded a Ferrari for a Twingo/ You traded a Rolex for a Casio”, referring to brands of cars and watches).
Given the wave of news that has been orbiting about the end of his relationship with Piqué since June 2022 —suppositions of betrayal, judicial dispute over child custody, financial dilemmas, etc.— new layers of drama are added to the song as that we listen to it and question ourselves: What does the topic reveal about the end of the relationship? What side are we on? What part of the drama recreated by the song infiltrates our lives? With which of the parties do we identify most?
This goes out to all the women who taught me that when life throws you bitter lemons, there’s no other choice but to make lemonade. pic.twitter.com/YegQ8MUXi6
— Shakira (@shakira) January 13, 2023
The song becomes more viral as different groups take ownership of the story. Is it a topic that empowers women who experience a separation?
On first reading, “Shakira Bzrp Music Sessions 53” is a song about the pride of using a disappointment to bill. It talks about a woman / singer who heals her pain by commodifying her emotions, who transforms her life into a market asset capable of generating engagement financial.
This has been, over time, one of the main arguments used by currents of feminism that perceive “solutions” for inequality within the very capitalist system that creates them. These outlets for the systemic oppression of women align with the principles of the commodification of the world: they link some female figures with large bank chains, entertainment industries, brands and global corporations. Beyoncé, for example, one of them.
A wolf like me is not for a rookie
In the most discussed song of the moment, we see that love is sought through a dispute between two women —Shakira seems, according to feminist visions that have circulated on social networks, to “blame” another woman for the failure of her marriage.
The emphasis on the dispute makes Shakira and her subject take a certain distance, for example, from feminist currents such as black and indigenous feminism and others with a greater sense of community and sorority, who defend the alliance between women as the weapon to fight against violence. patriarchy.
The entanglement, on the other hand, gains legitimacy within more conservative positions, which dictate that love is built exclusively within the monogamous bases of marriage; also among those who defend commodification as a reparation strategy. The question of gender therefore acquires new and complex nuances when it comes to pop music.
On the other hand, the song reveals the age dilemma: Piqué’s new partner is 22 years younger than Shakira. There is a change of perspective in the narrative that accompanied the relationship of the Colombian diva with Piqué from the beginning of it: at first, the fact that she was ten years older than him was a reason to celebrate, something positive. Now, when their marriage comes to an end, the delight of ageism (ageism or discrimination and prejudice based on age, which affects women above all) becomes Shakira’s interpretation, when the singer refers to the question of age.
A new theme, an old resource for billing
In times of social networks, speculative culture is strengthened in everything that concerns the production and consumption of pop music. It becomes one of the main tools for many stars to generate engagement or mobilize audiences. Many layers of meaning overlap in just one song and form a mosaic in which we, the spectators of other people’s lives, get involved as we celebrate or suffer from the conquests or disappointments of our idols and divas.
Shakira has not been the only one to use the resource. Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and many other pop divas have insisted on mediating their love separations through self-fiction, which they recreate in formats such as songs, video clips and shows, and in which the overcoming tone predominates. Male stars tend to adopt other strategies, in which victimization, suffering and redemption predominate. Let’s see the cases of Justin Bieber and Drake, for example.
However, the explosive success of Shakira’s song and the polarized debate that it has generated leaves some questions hanging in the air that, as I said before, do not begin or end with it: Are we more apt to see the pain of separation represented through of female voices? If so, what would it mean within a culture —that of the stage pop, but not only—in what is the disclosure of their affections to which we are most accustomed as consumers?
But, above all things: Where is the wound located in which, as spectators, we are hurt by a woman who chooses —and she has no shame in saying it— to invoice with her pain?