A week from today, on February 2, Shakira will be celebrating her 36th birthday. It will likely be a small little affair. Her partner, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, will most likely be there — but he will be watching what he eats — his side are travelling that night for the next day’s fixture at Getafe in Spain’s La Liga.
And chances are too that little Milan Pique Mebarak, who will be just 10 days old, will be getting used to his new palatial crib in their palace on the outskirts of the city. Yep, he is born into royalty — not of blue blood or heredity title, but of sheer stardom dripping dazzle and glowing glitter. If he is cranky, the poor little fellow will be sung asleep by a mother who is the hottest Latin star on the planet. She could make one of those baby mobiles that hang and rotate over the crib out of her two Grammy Awards and seven Latin Grammys. She would not even have to reach for the other 12 Latin Music Awards parked on the mantelpiece. The mobile will probably jiggle and rotate to Mommy’s hit that made Shakira a hip-shaking Waka Waka hit-maker the world over.
There were three things the World Cup in Africa in 2010 was memorable for: A new ball that would shoot straight; vuvuzuelas with a toot we all hated; and Shakira, the woman with whom fans the world over gyrated.
The reality, though, is that while Waka Waka made us wake up to her, Shakira spent years making stardom look easy.
She was eight when she wrote her first song. Imagine. Most children are too busy complaining that they do not want to go to bed and there she is, the daughter of a Lebanese father and a Colombian mother, living in Barranquilla, putting pen to paper and words to notes and writing music. No wonder she signed her first record deal when she was 13. Thirteen! Aren’t usual 13-year-olds worrying about who is popular in school and how they look, and there she is writing songs in Arabic and Spanish? Really, it is enough to make you sick.
However, it was not all easy. Poor Shakira’s first two albums were flops. But the third? She took control of all its production in 1995 — well she was 19 after all — and turned Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet) into a three-million selling album. And by then she had honed her international style, mixing Arabic, Latin, rock and dance into a smooth blend that was as easy on the ears as she was on the eyes.
This was the start of her global dominance — it was just that the English-speaking and singing world had not heard of her. If you want to be a real star, sing in English. That is the way Hollywood and the entertainment world operates. Yeah, sure, Shakira’s fourth album was an even bigger success, but the English world was deaf to her. That is why she upped to Miami with Mommy and Daddy, hooked up with Emilo Estafan as her manager and taught herself to write songs in English.
And she was not half bad either. Her first English album sold 200,000 copies in its first week, gave her a No 3 hit on the Billboard Charts and gave her the breakthrough she needed. She is also a woman who gets what she wants — she slapped a $100 million (Dh367.8 million) suit on her former boyfriend and business manager Antonio de la Rua, the polo-playing playboy son of former Argentine president Fernando de la Rua, when they fell out of the saddle.
It all clicked, First came fame, then fortune, then the footballer. Enter Gerard Pique — a defender who could not cut it at Manchester United, but was snapped up by Barcelona — who won a World Cup winners’ medal with Spain while his girlfriend’s song was the anthem for the competition. Nice one, Gerard — he wins the prize and the girl!
In September, it’s “Oh No, her hips don’t lie” — Shakira was pregnant.
Last Wednesday, little Milan entered the world at 2.9kg with a head of dark hair — screaming a hit song and kicking a football as well, no doubt. And the Latin glitterati are very happy indeed.
“Welcome Milan Piqui Mebarak and congratulations to Shakira and Gerard Pique. What would you prefer as a present for the baby, a microphone or some boots?” Manchester City striker Sergio “Kun” Aguero wrote on Twitter. Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas — the Arsenal reject — tweeted a welcome to the baby, saying he “can’t wait to meet you.”.
Heady stuff. Even Antonella Roccuzzo, the girlfriend of Argentine football ace Lionel Messi, tweeted: “Welcome to the world Milan Pique Mebarak. Now Thiaguin will have a great friend,” a reference to her own recently-born son.
Shakira said Milan was of central European origin and meant “loved, full of grace, loving,” in Slavic and “unification” in Sanskrit. Milan are also Barcelona’s next opponents in the European Champions League, So we know what’s on Daddy’s mind right now.