How to teach "La bicicleta" by Shakira and Carlos Vives
A beautiful artist with a rich canon of music that spans over her twenty-seven-year career, Shakira is an incredibly popular artist that resonates with my students each year without fail. Each year I have students who beg to learn a Shakira tune, but quite often I hesitate, as teaching Shakira’s work is tricky.
Shakira’s wonderful songs can often have a very quick beat and lyrical speed, and her vocal vibrato can make certain words unintelligible for beginning language students. While this makes her songs quite catchy, it also makes them quite challenging to teach. Before the 2016 school year, I had stuck to my standard Shakira tune, Gitana each year. With a definitive decrease in vocal vibrato and a slower pace, this song was perfect for my Spanish I students, and appeased the numerous Shakira fans in my classroom.
But then, in May of 2016, the tune La bicicleta was released. In this collaboration with Carlos Vives, another famous artist from Colombia, we are treated to a catchy combination of the vallentato, cumbia and reggeton genres. This song also won two Latin Grammys for Shakira and Carlos Vives, winning both the award for Best Song as well as the award for Best Record. I found this tune to be the perfect song to teach to the numerous Shakira fans in my classroom.
This tune has also recently encountered some intrigue, in the form of a copyright lawsuit. Yikes! One of the lines of the song is allegedly taken from a 1997 Cuban tune by Liván Rafael Castellanos called Yo te quiero tanto. I personally can't hear the resemblance between the two songs, but the lawsuit has gone to the Spanish courts to officially adjudicate the matter.
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