Shakira’s She Wolf Cromulence

Shakira - She Wolf

Shakira - She Wolf


The first time I listened to Shakira’s She Wolf, I loved the sound, but the lyrics really stuck in my craw. There’s just something off about them. The rhyming missteps and the more-than-occasional inanity lead to a particular feel that I can only describe as incromulent (i.e. lacking cromulence).

Let’s inspect the song line-by-line.

A domesticated girl that’s all you ask of me

Fine, an easily understood complaint.

Darling it is no joke this is lycanthropy

Great start! A fancy word for werewolf completes a rhyming couplet.

The moon’s awake now with eyes wide open

A little inane, but one could appreciate the personification of the moon in a song about a she wolf.

My body’s craving so feed the hungry

Here’s where things start to go off the rails. The first insult is the rhyme scheme. I thought we had established rhyming couplets as the pattern, which leads to a hard jab to the ears when “open” is rhymed with “hungry.” And the phrase is just awkward. Together these two lines sound like a machine translation of a better written song in some other language.

I’ve been devoting myself to you Monday to Monday and Friday to Friday
Not getting enough retribution or decent incentives to keep me at it

No problems here except the word “retribution.” Again, it sounds like maybe Shakira wrote this song in her native language, and relied a little too much on Babelfish for the English version. Retribution has a negative connotation. It is not something you want. People often use it as a synonym for revenge. Here are two good definitions for retribution: 1) Punishment inflicted in the spirit of moral outrage or personal vengeance. 2) A justly deserved penalty. One typically does not complain about getting too little of such things.

Do I need to call attention to pairing the easily rhymable “Friday” with “at it?”

I’m starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in an office.

Awesome metaphor! This is the infuriating thing about She Wolf. It feels like some thoughtful poetry fell into a blender with some Madlibs, someone hit puree, and then this song fell out.

So I’m gonna go to my closet and get me a lover and tell you all about it

This is the first mention of the closet. Apparently the she wolf is hiding in there. But the she wolf is also in disguise. The she wolf has a lot of issues.

Again “office” to “about it” – maybe we’re done with the rhyming couplets?

Sitting across a bar staring right at her prey
It’s going well so far she’s gonna get her way
Nocturnal creatures are not so prudent
The moon’s my teacher and I’m her student

Nope, first verse after the chorus, and the rhyming couplets are back.

To locate the single men I got on me a special radar

Note to the she wolves out there: special radar is not required. A short skirt will do just fine. In fact it is preferred to military hardware.

And the fire department hotline in case I get in trouble later

I would give credit for the near rhyme of “radar” and “later,” except that Shakira goes out of her way to pronounce the vowel sounds differently.

Not looking for cute little divos or rich city guys I just want to enjoy

??? I don’t know what this means, so I will just mention that Devo was an underappreciated band. There is more to them than Whip It.

I’m having a very good time behaving very bad in the arms of a boy

Several places offered different takes on this line. This one sounded the best to me, although its eloquence (out of place in this song) suggests I may just be helpfully mishearing.

Well, I’ve given the song a hard time, but I only criticize because I love. She Wolf is an infectious tune, sure to be with us for many years on many dance floors. Thank you, Shakira!

One last thing, though: Is it not possible to breathe in a closet?

Full lyrics to She Wolf by Shakira:
SOS she’s in disguise
SOS she’s in disguise
There’s a she wolf in disguise
Coming out coming out coming out

A domesticated girl that’s all you ask of me
Darling it is no joke this is lycanthropy
The moon’s awake now with eyes wide open
My body’s craving so feed the hungry

Ive been devoting myself to you Monday to Monday and Friday to Friday
Not getting enough retribution or decent incentives to keep me at it
I’m starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in an office
So I’m gonna go to my closet and get me a lover and tell you all about it

There’s a she wolf in the closet
Open up and set it free
There’s a she wolf in the closet
Let it out so it can breathe

Sitting across a bar staring right at her prey
It’s going well so far shes gonna get her way
Nocturnal creatures are not so prudent
The moon’s my teacher and I’m her student

To locate the single men I got on me a special radar
And the fire department hotline in case I get in trouble later
Not looking for cute little divos or rich city guys I just want to enjoy
I’m having a very good time and behaving very badly in the arms of a boy

There’s a she wolf in the closet
Open up and set it free
There’s a she wolf in the closet
Let it out so it can breathe

SOS she’s in disguise
SOS she’s in disguise
There’s a she wolf in disguise
Coming out coming out coming out

SOS she’s in disguise
SOS she’s in disguise
There’s a she wolf in disguise
Coming out coming out coming out

There’s a she wolf in the closet, let it out so it can breathe

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