'500 Greatest Albums' Podcast: How Shakira Reshaped Latin Pop

With more than 80 million records sold worldwide, Shakira is the best-selling female Latin artist ever. She’s been nominated for six Grammys and has won 11 Latin Grammys, giving her a Guinness World Record. By nearly all accounts, she’s one of the biggest stars on the planet. But within her decades-long career, there’s one album that set her up for massive global fame and in many ways, predicted it all: 1998’s Dónde Están los Ladrones?

Dónde Están los Ladrones? is an eclectic pop album with a rock edge that broke Shakira into the U.S. Latin market, and made her a household name in the Spanish-language pop world. Just 21 at the time, she was creating a bold, female-led pop-rock style that stood out from the male-dominated balladry that was all over Latin radio in the Nineties. But she also experimented with big swelling ballads, Mexican ranchera arrangements, and Middle Eastern dance pop. This mix gave the album a global appeal that connected all kinds of listeners across the Spanish-speaking world. 

The latest episode of our Amazon Original podcast Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums unpacks the story of Dónde Están los Ladrones? Staff Writer Julyssa Lopez tracks down many of Shakira’s collaborators, including producer Emilio Estefan, and outlines the intensive, nine-month creative process that unfolded at Miami’s Crescent Moon Studios. She talks to composer Dillon O’Brian, songwriters Pablo Flores and Javier Garza, and the LP’s engineer Sebastian Krys, who share their experiences working on songs such as “Tu” and “Ojos Asi” and describe how committed Shakira was to making the music sound exactly how she heard it in her head. In interviews with Jessie Reyez and Francisca Valenzuela, we also hear how the album’s frank, witty lyrics about love and heartbreak inspired a generation of women to write unapologetic songs of their own.

In 2003, Rolling Stone published its definitive countdown of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, the most popular and most argued-over list in the magazine’s history. In 2020, we completely remade the list, adding more than 150 new titles. With the Amazon Original podcast Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums, we’re delving further into the making and meaning of many of the records that made the cut, with exclusive insights from the artists who created them — and those who know them and their music best. Shakira’s Dónde Están los Ladrones? placed at number 496 in the latest ranking.

Hosted by RS Senior Writer Brittany Spanos, Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums appears exclusively on Amazon Music, with a new episode appearing each week. Check out the Dónde Están los Ladrones? episode above.

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