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Illegal (song)

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An image showing Shakira laying on flowers looking directly into the camera
Single by Shakira featuring Carlos Santana
from the album Oral Fixation Vol. 2
Released November 6, 2006 (2006-11-06)
Format CD single
Recorded 2005
Length 3:52
Label Epic
  • Shakira
  • Lester Mendez
  • Shakira
  • Lester Mendez (co.)
  • Jose "Gacho" Torres (add.)
Shakira chronology
"Hips Don't Lie"
"Te Lo Agradezco, Pero No"

"Illegal" is a song recorded by Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira for her seventh studio album, Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 (2005). It was written and produced by Shakira and Lester Mendez and it features Mexican guitarist Carlos Santana. Epic Records released the song as the album's third and final single on November 6, 2006, following the release of "Hips Don't Lie". "Illegal" is a pop and country ballad with lyrics concerning mourning of a past lover complete with an understated vocal performance by Shakira and an electric guitar riff by Santana throughout. It received mixed reviews from music critics, who compared it with Alanis Morissette's material and were mixed towards Santana's contribution.

The song achieved moderate success, topping the chart in Romania and the US Dance Club Songs chart and peaking within the top ten in Austria, Italy, Netherlands, Hungary and Switzerland among other countries. The music video for the song, co-directed by Jaume de Laiguana and Shakira, had its premiere on November 16, 2006 on MTV's Total Request Live (TRL). It features the singer portraying a girlfriend of a boxer and follows a similar storyline to the song's lyrics. "Illegal" has been performed by the singer live on few occasions, such as during the MTV 5 Star event (2005) and Good Morning America (2006).

Composition and production[edit]

A 21-second sample of the chorus of "Illegal" during which Shakira can be heard singing about the loss of a lover.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Illegal" is a ballad with lyrics revolving around mourning for the loss of a lover, as seen in the lines, "It should be illegal to deceive a woman's heart".[1] It contains elements of pop and country music.[2][3] Spence D. of the website IGN felt that Shakira adopted an "almost modern day country-styled pop aesthetic". Throughout the song, her vocals are subdued, complete with "rolling delivering, breathy accentuations, and... trill".[4] AllMusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine noted that the lyrics "You said you would love me until you died/And as far as I know you're still alive" were similar to Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" (1995).[3]

"Illegal" was written and produced by Shakira and Lester Mendez, with all additional production handled by Jose "Gacho" Torres. Mexican guitarist Carlos Santana appears as a featured artist on the song, playing an electrical guitar throughout.[5] The guitar was also played by Lyle Workman. The other instruments featured in the song are keyboards played by Lester Mendez, bass by Paul Bushnell, drums by Shawn Pelton and percussion by Luis Contez. The mixing was done by Rob Jacobs while the audio engineering was finished by Kevin Killen, Serge "Sergical" Tsai and Vlado Meller, who mastered the song with the assistance of Mark Santangelo.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

The song has received polarized reviews from music critics. A writer of Billboard was very positive towards the song, calling it "gorgeous" and Shakira's "most understated performance to date".[1] He further praised Santana's quiet guitar contribution, comparing it to "tears accompanying the loss".[1] The critic finished his review by concluding that time would be needed for channels streaming the song to propel it to the top 40 of the charts, "but this forlorn masterpiece is as instantly reactive on the slow side as 'Whenever, Wherever' was on the fast".[1] In a review of Oral Fixation, Vol. 2, Thomas Erlewine said that Shakira takes her music into unexpected directions with "Illegal".[3] Matt Cibula, in a review for PopMatters, found country music elements on the song, adding that its chorus could easily make it a CMT number-one single.[6] A Dotmusic journalist praised the singer's vocal performance in the song as a proof that she "certainly has a sweet croon".[2] Spence D. of IGN also praised her vocals in the quiet song and complimented Santana's performance for bringing "nice ambiance".[4] Entertainment Weekly's David Browne gave a more mixed review, opining that "'Don't Bother' and 'Illegal' are sister-of-Alanis catfights we've heard before".[7] Barry Walters from Rolling Stone said that Santana's contribution in the song was "instantly recognizable and somewhat disruptive".[8] Similarly, Lauren Murphy from felt that his "conscription" and riff contribution to the song was "somewhat lackluster".[9] A writer of E! Online dubbed "Illegal" a "total buzzkill".[10]

Robert Copsey of the website Digital Spy placed the song seventh on his list of Shakira's ten best songs, published in 2014 writing that "it hasn't aged a day".[11] The same year, Emily Exton of VH1 placed the track on her list of Shakira's best duets, summarizing "The pained musings of a woman scorned, punctuated by the legend’s iconic guitar groove".[12] A writer of the website Telemundo included "Illegal" on his list of Shakira's best musical collaborations in 2015.[13]

Chart performance[edit]

In the United States, "Illegal" managed to top the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart for the week of February 10, 2007.[14] On the UK Singles Chart, the single debuted at the position of 94 on December 16, 2006 and it moved to its peak position of 34 the following week. It spent a total of four weeks on the chart.[15] On the charts in Austria, "Illegal" debuted at number nine on December 8, 2006 which later became its peak position on the chart on which it gradually descended for seventeen weeks, appearing for the last time on the chart issue of April 13, 2007.[16][17] At the end of 2007, it emerged as the 66th top single in that country's year-end chart.[18] The single debuted at number ten in its first week of charting on the Swiss Hitparade on December 3, 2006 and it spent a total of 21 weeks in that country.[19] In Germany, "Illegal" rose to the position of eleven and was ranked 76th on the 2007 year-end chart in that country.[20] On November 23 2006, "Illegal" debuted at number nine on the Italian Singles Chart and then rose to number four in its ninth week of charting, on January 18, 2007.[21] It spent fourteen consecutive weeks in the chart's top twenty and was last seen on February 22, 2007.[21] Inside the Romanian Top 100, "Illegal" was Shakira's fourth single to reach the number-one position on January 22, 2007. It held the top spot for five non-consecutive weeks.[22] The single further peaked at numbers three, four and six on the charts in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, respectively.[23][24][25]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Illegal" was shot in Mexico City on October 17, 2006, during a short break in the schedule of the Oral Fixation Tour, between concerts in Mexico and Guatemala.[26] Jaume de Laiguana and Shakira were the co-directors of the video.[26][27] The filming took a full day, and some American and Mexican fans were invited over as extras.[26] It officially premiered on November 16, 2006 on MTV's Total Request Live (TRL).[28] The video features Shakira as the girlfriend of a boxer. Throughout most of the video, she is shown in the empty boxing venue where her former boyfriend boxes. Through flashbacks, she remembers the good times in their relationship - including being alone in the ring, affectionately treating each other. At the end of the video, the reason behind their break-up is shown.[29] Shakira comes to see her boyfriend boxing in the championship match where he wins, unaware that Shakira is there watching him. Another girl steps in the ring and kisses the boxer, revealing to Shakira he is cheating on her. Her boyfriend, to his shock, finally sees that Shakira is watching him kiss the other girl. The video ends with her looking back at him, clearly hurt, before turning away and leaving.[29]

Live performances[edit]

An MTV 5 Star performance of the song from 2005, was uploaded to Shakira's official Vevo account on March 24, 2011.[30] In December, 2006, "Illegal" was performed during the singer's appearance at Good Morning America.[31]

Track listing and formats[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits and personnel adapted from the liner notes of Oral Fixation Vol. 2.[5]




"Illegal" was released as a CD single on November 6, 2006.[48] An EP of the song featuring two versions of the song and "La Tortura" was available for digital download on December 9, 2006.[49] A second, enhanced CD single featuring two versions of the song along with "La Tortura" and its music video was released on December 18, 2006.[50]


Country Date Format Label
United States November 6, 2006[48] CD single N/A
United Kingdom December 9, 2006[49] EP Sony BMG Entertainment
Various countries December 18, 2006[50] CD single (enhanced) Sony BMG/RCA Records

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d T, C (December 9, 2006). "Shakira Featuring Carlos Santana, Illegal". Billboard. Vol. 118 no. 49. p. 87. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  2. ^ a b "Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 Review". Dotmusic. 
  3. ^ a b c Thomas Erlewine, Stephen. "Oral Fixation, Vol. 2". AllMusic. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b D., Spencer (December 7, 2005). "Shakira - Oral Fixation Vol. 2". IGN. p. 2. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Shakira (2005). Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 (Media notes). Shakira. Epic Records. 
  6. ^ Cibula, Matt (December 12, 2005). "Shakira: Oral Fixation, Vol. 2". PopMatters. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  7. ^ Browne, David (November 11, 2005). "Oral Fixation Vol. 2". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  8. ^ Walters, Barry (November 17, 2005). "Shakira Oral Fixation Vol. 2 Album Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  9. ^ Murphy, Lauren (March 30, 2006). "Shakira - Oral Fixation Vol. 2". Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Oral Fixation Vol. 2 Reviews - Shakira". Metacritic. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  11. ^ Copsey, Robert (February 26, 2014). "Shakira's 10 best songs: 'She Wolf', 'Hips Don't Lie', more". Digital Spy. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  12. ^ Exton, Emily (January 13, 2014). "Beautiful Liars and Truthful Hips: 5 Great Shakira Duets". VH1. Retrieved June 14, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Las mejores colaboraciones musicales de Shakira (Fotos)" (in Spanish). Telemundo. September 21, 2015. Retrieved June 14, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Hot Dance Club Songs". Billboard. February 10, 2007. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  15. ^ a b "Shakira: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  16. ^ "Austria Top 40 - Singles" (in German). Austrian Charts. Hung Medien. December 8, 2006. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Austria Top 40 - Singles" (in German). Austrian Charts. Hung Medien. April 13, 2007. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  18. ^ a b "Jahreshitparade Singles 2007" (in German). Austrian Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  19. ^ a b " – Shakira feat. Carlos Santana – Illegal". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  20. ^ a b "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts – 2007" (in German). Offizielle Deutsche Charts. GfK Entertainment. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  21. ^ a b c " – Shakira feat. Carlos Santana – Illegal". Top Digital Download. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  22. ^ a b "Shakira vine din nou în România - Video" (in Romanian). Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  23. ^ a b "SNS IFPI" (in Slovak). Hitparáda – Radio Top 100 Oficiálna. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: insert 200651 into search. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  24. ^ a b "ČNS IFPI" (in Czech). Hitparáda – Radio Top 100 Oficiální. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: insert 200710 into search. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  25. ^ a b "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Rádiós Top 40 játszási lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  26. ^ a b c "Graba video en México" (PDF) (in Spanish). Notimex. October 20, 2006. p. 2. Retrieved June 14, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Shakira – Illegal" (in Spanish). November 11, 2006. Retrieved June 14, 2016. 
  28. ^ "Illegal music video". Total Request Live. November 16, 2006. MTV. 
  29. ^ a b Shakira - Illegal ft. Santana. Vevo. YouTube. October 3, 2009. Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  30. ^ Shakira - Illegal (MTV 5 Star Live Performance) ft. Santana. Vevo. YouTube. March 24, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  31. ^ "Shakira". Good Morning America. December 2, 2006. ABC News. 
  32. ^ "Illegal" (CD single liner notes). Shakira and Carlos Santana. Epic Records. 2006. 88697007972. 
  33. ^ "Illegal" (CD single liner notes). Shakira and Carlos Santana. Epic Records. 2006. 88697 03375 2. 
  34. ^ "Illegal" (CD single/Promo liner notes). Shakira and Carlos Santana. Epic Records. 2006. 
  35. ^ " – Shakira feat. Carlos Santana – Illegal" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  36. ^ " – Shakira feat. Carlos Santana – Illegal" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  37. ^ " – Shakira feat. Carlos Santana – Illegal" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  38. ^ "Shakira – Illegal" (in Danish). Tracklisten. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  39. ^ "Shakira – Chart history" European Hot 100 for Shakira. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  40. ^ "Shakira feat. Carlos Santana: Illegal" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  41. ^ " – Shakira feat. Carlos Santana Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  42. ^ "Chart Track: Week 50, 2006". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  43. ^ " – Shakira feat. Carlos Santana – Illegal" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  44. ^ " – Shakira feat. Carlos Santana – Illegal". Singles Top 100. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  45. ^ "Shakira – Chart history" Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs for Shakira. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  46. ^ "MAHASZ Rádiós TOP 100 – 2007" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  47. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 2007" (in Dutch). Dutch Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  48. ^ a b "Illegal - Shakira". AllMusic. Retrieved June 14, 2016. 
  49. ^ a b "Illegal - EP by Shakira featuring Carlos Santana". iTunes Store (UK). Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  50. ^ a b "Shakira - Illegal Pt. 2". Retrieved June 15, 2016. 

External links[edit]