Come late March of this year, Shakira is set to release her tenth studio album. As such, it's typically time for a pop singer to ramp up the hype with an ear-catching lead single and some surrounding buzz to give it some push. However, the track chosen to usher in this new era in her nearly two-decade career, "Can't Remember to Forget You", may be steamy enough with its Rihanna feature and provocative video, but is unfortunately a forgettable affair. One of the most immediate aspects of the song is its ska-influenced, new wave bounce which pile drives the listener into a crunching rock chorus accompanied by Shakira's vibrato-laden wails. Rihanna, while not as strong of a vocalist as Shakira, does gel very well with the overall sound of the song but her collaborative presence feels like it’s taking advantage of her bankable star quality to ensure the song gets proper radio attention.
The lyrical content however, regarding infatuation over a lover with whom one shares a bad history, makes less of an impression. There's talk of not repeating: "yesterday's mistakes," and memories of: "kissing in the moonlight," but it all feels so superficial and hazy--almost makes you miss Taylor Swift's ripped-from-a-diary ballads--it's as if Shakira has nothing truly memorable to remember to forget in the first place. And it's really not like Shakira has nothing to say-- as a good portion of her discography is either rich with vivid lyricism and metaphors (see: 1998's pop classic Dónde Están los Ladrones?) or at least have some awkwardly amusing lines likely lost in translation. In all, "Can't Remember to Forget You" gives the sense of a safe bet than a comeback. Shakira describes her upcoming eponymous album as "a path...of rediscovery" for herself. Hopefully, it's one that will provide a more lasting impression that the one we're working with right now.