(The priest gave her the go-ahead.) Even so, she is charmingly insistent that her sultry dance moves are not erotic."I always try not to be graphic but to be metaphorical," she says.Though Shakira is often pegged as a crossover artist—a faintly dismissive term usually applied to the most watered-down of genre straddlers—anyone who's really listened to her phenomenally varied output, which ranges from rock en Español to '80s-style new wave, overwrought ballads to bouncy, Bardot-esque French pop, knows that the 29-year-old singer defies categorization.(Her current musical obsession, she tells me excitedly, is a Hasidic reggae singer called Matisyahu.) "She's a connoisseur of music, like myself," Wyclef says.Then again, the sight of the pop star slathered in Pennzoil, rhythmically thrusting out her chest, and sharing a torrid embrace with Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz may have had something to do with the video's popularity.
Shakira admits that she recently got word from her Catholic high school that "one of the nuns is looking for me after seeing the 'Don't Bother' video." And before taping the "La Tortura" video, she consulted a priest friend about whether it would be proper to carry on with Sanz while in a committed relationship with her lawyer fiancé, Antonio de la Rúa, the son of Argentina's former president.A moment later, Shakira shades her eyes and looks up at the sound booth."Less 'verb in the monitor," she says, businesslike, before requesting one more take."I call us music junkies." Shakira's vocal style on her more rock-oriented tracks has been likened to that of Alanis Morissette for its fiery-eyed rage, but the comparison quickly falls apart when one considers gorgeously sleepy ballads like "Something," from Oral Fixation, or the bossa nova tune "Obtener un Sí," from its Spanish language counterpart.In a recent encomium on the two releases, a smitten New York Times writer praised her "savvy but nearly unhinged eclecticism." And legendary Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau, astonished by her barrage of musical references, lovingly deemed her "as big a weirdo as [psych-folk darling] Devendra Banhart, only more talented and more focused." Rick Rubin, who executive-produced the two CDs, compares Shakira's hands-on approach to that of Madonna. "She's in total control." And she has maintained that control for years—delivering her records on her own schedule (generally with two to three years in between) and cherry-picking from whichever genres speak to her at a given moment.Then she flashes me a sweet, almost bashful, can-you-believe-my-crazy-life? It's a perilously disarming smile too, it turns out.