There were 26 words with which, exactly one year ago, on June 4, 2022, Shakira and Piqué communicated their separation to the world. Goodbye to 12 years of relationship, a home in Barcelona and a life together in three very brief sentences. Many questions arose, questions about both of them, about their children, about whether there were third parties. The unknowns were soon cleared, but each and every chapter of this story—not too many; In this type of characters it is very easy for an almost daily news to emerge, but in their case it has been contained—they have generated enormous interest throughout this year. And the Colombian artist has been its great protagonist and its great beneficiary, in the family, the work and in the media discourse.
The story of Shakira and Piqué is still a normal, everyday story, that of a couple who separate after just over a decade together and embark on their own paths. But there is little normality in the protagonists. Their media careers, their public projection, the loves and hates they awaken, their travel companions (from their family and other celebrities, whether athletes or singers, to lawyers, through the new partner of the former footballer) and, of course, their fortunes, which place them in a privileged place, make it an extraordinary story where the public tends to adopt a conservative position, of good and bad, and to choose a side. Nuria Labari already said it in a column in these same pages, a few months ago. "The breakup of Shakira and Gerard Piqué has a symbolic value that exceeds the most rancid gossip and makes the couple become the symbol of a specific moment and desolation," said the writer. "Its rupture allows us to identify our needs and desires with one of the adversaries. It's a fact: we keep telling love stories because they help us understand who we are [...] The rupture of these two fosters catharsis with the efficacy of a Greek tragedy."
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365 days. Just that. Or as much as that, depending on how you look at it. An exact year has passed since Shakira became, first, a victim that everyone seemed to grieve when it was learned of their separation and Piqué's relationship with Clara Chía. But, later, the Colombian has become a symbol of empowerment thanks to something as complex as it is simple: telling what happens to her. Speak. Expose their feelings in the crudest way and publicize their grief in such a way until they are able to make their cape a test and turn the narrative around to become, for more than one, a heroine. "Although the projection of that image of heroine is a double-edged sword, it is like in a movie," reflects Asunción Bernárdez, professor of Journalism at the Faculty of Information Sciences of the Complutense, as well as a specialist in Communication and Gender. "Because she's rich, she can take the kids away, she has the appeal of the heroic as a cinematic character, but symbolic, because we love heroic storytelling."
If before breaking up with Piqué the singer launched the hit Te felicito (with Rauw Alejandro), already in October, in the hangover of the separation, Monotonía arrived, in whose video clip he appeared heartless: he had lost it and passers-by trampled on him. Unsubtle? The final stroke was missing.
It arrived in 2023. Shakira had remained in a wise silence. Only an interview (I would grant another in February), discretion, restraint. In November the artist had achieved what she most craved: custody of her two children. Taking them to live in Miami, taking them away from the spotlight and continuing with her career, the one she claimed she had been forced to pause because of her relationship with Piqué. But the year starts and with it everything explodes. The singer publishes on January 12 a song with the Argentine rapper Bizarrap, whose aseptic title, Bzrp Music Sessions, vol. 53, does not foresee the number of bombs she throws against her ex. "New is not," reflects Miguel Ángel Bargueño, music critic, journalist and writer, "everything is invented, but she gives names and surnames. I would like to know how these songs are born, if she appears telling her life, if there is a team of people behind it... because looking at the credits of the song there are two or three other people [apart from Shakira and Bizarrap, the authors are Francisco Zecca, Kevyn Mauricio Cruz Moreno and Santiago Pablo Exequiel Alvarado]. I don't know how he works it. It was as if I gave an interview in ¡Hola! but in song format. It will have had millions of views, but what they really make money with is the performances. All this succession of successes serves to get on the road."
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The 26 words of the separation communiqué here become 358, each higher than the other. Piqué, his new girlfriend, Clara Chía, his ex-mother-in-law, his open litigation with the Spanish Treasury, his resentment and his tears become a record issue. Four records, in fact, including being the most watched Latin song on YouTube in 24 hours and the fastest reaching 100 million views on the platform (it already has 560 million), both certified by the Guinness Book. And a phrase, "Women do not cry, women bill", which became an instant generational anthem and was even seen in the last demonstrations on March 8 on hundreds of banners subject to dozens of personalizations.
Banners and demonstrators at the March 8, 2023 march in Barcelona.Albert Garcia
The songs, usually fictional constructs seasoned with notes of personal life, became in this case an open letter, a manifesto, for Shakira. Life turned into stanzas. She knew very well what she was doing. For three days in January, Session 53 was the most streamed Spotify track worldwide; In fact, on the day of its launch, 14.4 million people listened to it, according to data from the platform. He also became the center of conversation. The following week was the second most played song (only surpassed by Flowers, another theme of empowerment and sentimental revenge, this time by Miley Cyrus). The rest of February, among the top six in the world; in March, between 15. It already has 645 million listens.
"A year ago Shakira's career was not at its best and she has been able to reinvent herself, accompanied by young people and Latin music, which is fashionable. He has joined Bizarrap, with Karol G, with Rauw Alejandro... It's a little bit what Madonna has always done, getting together with fresh people, who are breaking it in music. And she, somehow, has been updated, which is what her music lacked lately. He didn't know where to throw and he has found that way," says Bargueño. "For me, in part, that enormous success I attributed to the fact that it is a comic song, with a lot of humor, to the point that Los Morancos, who usually make parodies with hit songs, did not manage to overcome it. It was almost childish, very humorous," acknowledges the journalist and author of five books.
Shakira and Gerard Piqué, with their children Milan and Sasha at New York's Madison Square Garden in December 2017.James Devaney (Getty Images)
The narrative marked by the great themes of success has been mixed with that of the events of the ex-couple. And, in turn, the songs have been mixed in his story. Piqué came to give his brief opinion on the subject, defending that the only thing that worried him were his children. Personal issues competed with Spotify's rankings. But Shakira emerged as a winner in the media discourse. After giving an image of a woman who had left everything for love, success, music, her country, her life, she went on to give headlines like "Now I feel complete because I feel that I depend on myself and I also have two children who depend on me, so I have to be stronger than a lioness" or "I did not know I could be strong, He always believed that he was rather fragile. And I have a little bit of everything." Both the label and Shakira's legal team have declined to comment on her. It's the usual thing. Those who know and treat the star claim that "she decides what yes and what not." It is clear that he has taken charge of his own history.
Professor Bernárdez observes that the theme of Shakira and her attitude "help women to have a model of empowered feminism, that young women recognize that apart from feelings there is a material, real life, that we do not want to stay crying at home." But she also warns that feminism is based on eradicating social inequality, on going one step further. "Beyond fighting and fighting, escalating endless violence, feminism works to dismantle those structures of difference. It is not that women do the same, it is to empower them and undo those couple structures where one develops towards the street and the other, or the other, inwards. The most complex question is whether this case helps to dismantle these schemes of inequality or are they not as disruptive as they might seem," reflects the professor. "What's disruptive about what Shakira does? Maybe we don't have to think about the codes of love as we have always done. Empowered women are all well and good, but let's never forget the ultimate goal: equality. And equality means dismantling what the couple is, the stereotype. We are in the usual debate, perhaps we have to consider another type of family, another type of relationship. But those are much more complex processes."