Whenever, Wherever

Album: Laundry Service (2001)
Charted: 2 6

Songfacts®:

  • 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.

Comments: 21

  • Mark from ChicagoPersonally I think the English lyrics are way better than the Spanish ones, especially when you look at the chorus, which is clumsy and repetitive in Spanish, tbh.

    Also, with respect to: "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 Spanish lyrics for that line mean the same thing and they're just as goofy sounding in Spanish.
  • Chris from Germany @Josh from Hillsdale, Mi

    exactly my thoughts.... i had the same thought when i first heard this in 2002. Sounds exactly like DOWN UNDER by MEN AT WORK
  • Donna from Ft. Lauderdale, FlThere's a segment on the PBS series "Latin Music USA" explaining how Emilio and Gloria Estefan of Miami Sound Machine helped mentor a young Shakira from unknown to emerging superstar. Emilio says he looked to Shakira's paternal heritage (Middle Eastern - Lebanese - on father's side) when creating a unique image for her. Note the bare midriffs and belly dancing.
  • Karen from Metuchen, NjGotta love a song with pan pipes! It makes me want to go somewhere in South/Central America! Love this song; Shakira has a great voice, and they don't have to auto-tune her.
  • Chris from South Surrey, BcI'm guessing that the other song to hit it big featuring panpipes was Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer.
  • Craig from Melbourne, AustraliaShakira is a true "Earth Woman". She loves to be barefoot. She is bare foot in this clip, and many others (notably the duet with Beyonce). She performs in barefeet. She has beautiful, petite little feet with dainty toes. Her favourite nail polish color is black.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesChauncey - I don't think it sounds that much like "Aint't It Funny" either, but a number of music critics of the time did!
  • Michelle from Springfield, VaI think the spanish version (translated) is way better.
    Michelle Diaz, Springfield,VA.
  • Chauncey from Niagara Falls, NyIt soooooooo does NOT sound like JLo's Ain't it Funny.. I find that whole statement funny.. Shakira's lyrics about her breats were only commical. Do you reallly think that she was serious when she said "so you don't confused them with mountains." Give me a break. On the other hand, I totally confuse Pamela Anderson's breasts with Mountains anyday! I also felt that this song had an undertone of having sex whenever and wherever.. but whatever. Shakira=Awesome!
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesAdditionally, when it was released this song also drew comment from some critics who thought it sounded like Jennifer Lopez's 2001 release "Ain't It Funny"
  • Jessie Ann from Purchase, NyI don't think the english lyrics are silly at all. I think most of her songs in English and Spanish have the same theme to them of love and womanhood. In english she sings about her breasts and hips, and it s a sign (to me) that she is proud of her womanhood and sexuality. In Spanish it's the same too. In Te Dejo Madrid, there is a lyric that (when translated) means "cats like me land on their feet". I get the same feel from that as I do from her english songs.
  • Caitlin from Upper Township, NjI like this song, but only in spanish. I like "Hips Don't Lie" better!
  • Anna from U.s, CaThis song was dedicated to her fiancé, the son of Argentina's former president Fernando de la Rua. That´s why it says something about climbin´ the Andes. As for its Spanish translation into English, I have to same it´s pretty much the same to the English version.
  • Jazzz from FrankfurtUsually it´s true for Latin songs that the original spanish text is so much better than the english version of the song. This case is different though: The english lyrics posted here are quite an exact translation of the spanish text (I´ve reread the spanish lyrics). Conclusion: even in spanish it´s stupid. At least it sounds nice...
  • Josh from Hillsdale, MiThis song reminds me of the Men at Work hit song "Down Under," 20 years earlier. I remember when it was brand new.
  • Kelli from Cedar Rapids, Iacould someone post the Spanish lyrics, translated?
  • Marlow from Perthwhy would anyone quote "lucky that my breasts are small and humble. so you dont confuse them with mountains" what the hell lyrics are those and shakira honey im yet to confuse a large breast with a mountain.. but hey! maybe im just a one off..
  • Kyrie from Raleigh, NcThis song is horrible in English. But then all of her English songs are bad. If you haven't heard her Spanish songs, listen to them and you'll know what I'm talking about. And the country is Colombia, not Columbia.
  • Dave from Cardiff, Wales"Whenever, Wherever" was - and still remains - one of only two UK hit singles to feature a panpipe section. The Andean panflutes in this song were inspired by the the traditional Rosminian panpipe chorus "Cacharpaya", a piece of music made famous in 1982 by the avant-garde group Incantation who took Cacharpaya to No. 10 in the UK in that year. Issued as Shakira's debut UK single in early 2002, "Whenever, Wherever" went to No. 2 in the UK charts. Despite the relative commercial failure of follow-up "Underneath Your Clothes" in the UK in August 2002, "Whenever, Whenever" still remains one of the biggest-selling UK singles so far this decade
  • Alex from New Orleans, LaMadTV parodied this as "Whatever ,Don't Matter.
  • Zack Wiener from Auckland, New ZealandThis song is so good. I personally think that song is better in Spanish, it loses its meaning when translated. Just my opinion. Shakira grew up in Barranquilla, in the secure north of columbia.
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