Shakira is from Colombia, and Spanish is her native language. The Spanish version of this song is called "Suerte," which means "Luck."
This was Shakira's first album recorded in English. The singer didn't know the language yet when she started working on the album and was assigned an English tutor. "To me it was very important to understand the nature of the language and how it works in literature," she explained in a VH1 interview. "I wanted to know how the English grammar works... I had to read Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass in English just to understand the language a little more. It was too important to me to write my own material like I always did."
Gloria Estefan, whose husband, Emilio, was Shakira's manager, translated the songs for the singer and encouraged her efforts to grasp the language.
Shakira was a star in Latin America, but this was her first hit in English-speaking countries. The video, directed by Francis Lawrence, features the singer showing off her belly-dancing skills in a number of natural locales. It became a huge hit on MTV and introduced her to a new set of fans. The clip also earned her the 2002 Latin Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video.
Gloria Estefan wrote this with Shakira. Estefan has had tremendous success recording in both English and Spanish, but like Shakira, her core fanbase is Spanish-speaking. Without Estefan in her corner, Shakira may not have become a worldwide phenomenon - at least not for a little while longer.
In a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Estefan explained how she fought the execs at Epic to give Shakira a fair shot. "They wanted her just to throw a couple of songs in English on a Latin record, and I fought hard. I said, 'Listen. This is her shot. You can't do it halfway, you know?'" she recalled. "An American audience is not gonna get a record that's mostly Spanish because there's a couple of English cuts on it. They're gonna want to hear the whole thing. This is gonna work. I fought hard for her. Fought hard. And she sold like 13 million of that album."
The song is about being willing to travel the world in order to be with a distant lover. Most of the songs Shakira writes are about love.
This was written in Spanish, and the Spanish lyrics are more meaningful. The English translation is a little goofy, with lines like "Lucky my breasts are small and humble so you don't confuse them with mountains." The lack of lyrical depth did not hurt, as the beat, the chorus, and the video made this a hit.
One of the key instruments are Andean pan flutes. They are common in Arabic music, which is a big influence on Shakira.
After this was released, Shakira's boyfriend was the subject of a great deal of controversy. She was dating Antonio De La Rua, the son of Argentinean president Fernando De La Rua, who resigned in December 2001 with Argentina's economy in turmoil. On his last day in office, five protesters were shot by police guarding the presidential palace, which enraged Argentines as well as many other Latin Americans. Considering Shakira guilty by association, Tower Records refused to sell her CD at the request of the president of Tower Records Argentina. The younger De La Rua wrote speeches for his father. He was in the video for another song on the album called "Underneath Your Clothes."
Hard to believe, but Shakira had body image issues. She was quite happy with her humble breasts when she released this song, but when she started writing for her 2005 album Fijacion Oral Vol. 1, the first line she wrote (according to an interview with Gavin Martin) was, "Told you I've been lucky with my humble breasts. We'll, I'm not." She considered plastic surgery, but decided against it.
Shakira sang this during her first appearance on Saturday Night Live on December 1, 2001.
Shakira performed this at halftime of the 2020 Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. This was the first Super Bowl halftime show headlined by Latin artists, with Shakira and Jennifer Lopez taking the stage.