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Pop mantra: I wanna be a rock star

Shakira, Timberlake pluck guitars, beef up their tunes -- all in an effort to be taken seriously

By JASON BRACELIN


What more could a pop star want than to be rich, pretty and at least semiaccomplished, all while emitting sex appeal casually, like a supermodel on a smoke break.

Well, if you're jiggly Colombian dancing queen Shakira or pop's reigning king of hearts Justin Timberlake, you want to be a rock star. This is because, for whatever reason, rock stars are taken more seriously than pop stars these days.

This, in spite of Nickelback.

And so when Shakira and Timberlake performed Saturday at Mandalay Bay (the former for a sold-out show at the events center, the latter for a packed, late-night club gig at the House of Blues), they donned guitars, shook their stuff in front of large, loud backing bands and packed their tunes with enough instrumental embellishments to make the dudes in Widespread Panic blush.

For her part, Shakira often came across as a subtropical, slightly less witchy Stevie Nicks, skilled at wrapping her reedy, resonant voice around a power chord or two.

Throughout her show, Shakira teased the rock out of her tunes -- she was flanked onstage by three guitarists at one point. Her breakout hit in the United States, "Whenever, Wherever," culminated with the band jamming out Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion." Even the breathy ballad "Underneath Your Clothes" was buffered with a moaning lap steel solo.

Pop music has come to be defined by precision -- meticulous, airless productions that pair perfect beats with perfect bodies -- but there always has been an earthier, more primal aura that surrounds Shakira.

She wants to be the grit beneath pop's fingernails.

And so when she clawed at a glittery guitar for the curled-lip rocker "Don't Bother," it felt more natural than when she stripped down to a glittery brassiere for the stray belly-dancing interlude.

Ah, but those gyrations have come to define Shakira, her serpentine dancing so smooth, it's as if her joints contain well-oiled ball bearings. And as she led the crowd in loud singalongs of Latin hit "Estoy Aqui" and the show-ending smash "Hips Don't Lie," she swiveled her pelvis tempestuously, as if she was trying to ward off some evil spirits.

"This has a very serious purpose," Shakira said midway through her set, pointing to her midsection after having rolled up her shirt to expose her taut abs.

She giggled as she said this, making light of the kind of willful self-importance that consumes too many of today's straight-faced modern rock stars. Ultimately, this is why Shakira will never really be included in their ranks, no matter how many shiny six-strings she straps on.


This article has been posted by: John
Posted at 08/31/2006. Original article can be found here.

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