Underneath Your Clothes

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"Underneath Your Clothes"
Single by Shakira
from the album Laundry Service
Released February 2002
Format CD single, CD maxi, 12" single
Recorded 2001
Genre Soft rock
Length 3:44 (album version)
3:37 (video edit)
Label Epic
  • Shakira
  • Lester Mendez
Shakira singles chronology
"Whenever, Wherever"
"Underneath Your Clothes"
"Objection (Tango)"

"Underneath Your Clothes" is a song by Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira for her third studio album and English-language debut, Laundry Service (2001). The power ballad was the second English language single released from the album, and it features lyrics by Shakira and music by her and Lester Mendez; both are also the producers of the song. Lyrically, the song tells the story of the unconditional love that a woman has for her boyfriend, with her claiming she is worthy of his love for being a good girl.

Some critics commended the song for being a highlight from the album, while also praising her vocals. However, others were more critical towards her songwriting and the song's production, which according to them resembled The Bangles' "Eternal Flame" and Beatles' "Penny Lane". The song was a huge success on the charts, topping the charts of over six countries, while also reaching the top-ten in more than fourteen territories, including the United States, where it became her third most successful single there, behind only "Whenever, Wherever" (2001) and "Hips Don't Lie" (2006). The song is also listed as one of the twenty biggest-selling singles of the 2000 decade with sales of over 6 million copies.[1]

The accompanying music video for the song was directed by fashion photographer Herb Ritts and poignantly depicts Shakira's loneliness as a recording artist on tour. It also features Shakira's former boyfriend Antonio de la Rúa, which caused controversy in Argentina, leding to a ban of her albums in the country. Shakira has promoted the song with a series of live performances across the world, while also performing it on her worldwide tours, "Tour of the Mongoose" (2002-2003), "Oral Fixation Tour" (2006-2007) and most recently on "The Sun Comes Out World Tour" (2010-2011).

Background and release[edit]

After releasing her second major album, Dónde Están los Ladrones?, in 1998, achieving a lot of success, Shakira released her first live album, MTV Unplugged: Shakira, in 2000. However, Shakira wanted to breakthrough in the United States and the world with songs in English.[2] Shakira said, "Before assuming this big challenge of writing for the first time in English and making my first English album and presenting it to the world… of course I was feeling ready for it, a little bit scared… actually a lot scared. But I knew I could do it and my instincts always told me to go ahead and jump in the water."[3] To achieve this goal, Shakira locked herself up with a personal tutor, studied the lyrics of Bob Dylan and the poetry of Walt Whitman and wrote the English lyrics to her album 'Laundry Service’, 'with a dictionary in one hand and a thesaurus in the other’."[4]

She claimed, 'I just felt that was part of my destiny and I had to fulfil it. I knew I had to jump into a pool of cold water without even knowing how to swim, and I learnt. Songwriting is such an intricate part of me as an artist and as a person; I couldn’t just let someone else do it." During the process, Shakira wrote "Underneath Your Clothes", a love song about her relationship with Antonio de la Rúa. She explained that, "If you check the subject of my songs, most of them talk about my own experiences and feelings and what I was actually going through in my life."[5] "Underneath Your Clothes" was released to U.S. radio stations as the second single from the album in February 2002,[6][7] while its single was released in May 2002.[8]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

On the power ballad, Shakira sings with "the range of an operatic diva"[2] about an unconditional love that a woman has for her boyfriend.[9]

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Underneath Your Clothes" is a pop rock and power ballad, written by Shakira (music and lyrics) and Lester Mendez (music), with Shakira also being the song's producer and Mendez the co-producer. Both arranged the track, while Mendez also provided keyboards and horn arrangements, while Shakira and Rita Quintero also serving with background vocals. It was recorded at The Hit Factory, Miami, Florida, Compass Point Studios, Bahamas, while being mixed and recorded at the Crescent Moon Studios, Miami, Florida.[10] According to the sheet music published at MusicNotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, "Underneath Your Clothes" is written in the key of Ab major, set in a moderately slow tempo of 88 beats per minute. Shakira's vocal range spans from the low-note of AB3 to the high-note of C5. The introduction follows the chord progression of A–D–A–D-Fm, while the verses follow the chord progression of Cm-D–Esus–E.[11]

Lyrically, "Underneath Your Clothes" is an "ode" to the positivity one gains when pursuing a relationship with a good person,[12] with Shakira "mentally undress[ing] her man, fantasizing about the "territory" she claims as her own."[13] As noted by Chuck Taylor of Billboard, the song is "a thought-provoking ballad that finds a novel way to deliver a message of love and devotion." "Underneath your clothes/There's an endless story/There's the man I chose/That's my territory," she sings.[6] Rapahel Russell Meeuf, writer of the book "Transnational Stardom: International Celebrity in Film and Popular Culture", claimed that in the song, "Shakira repeatedly describes herself as a 'good girl,' worthy of de la Rúa's love, and as a woman of 'very developed' maternal instincts.[14] As noted by Alexis Petridis of The Guardian and Matt Cibula of PopMatters, the song has "a Beatles-influenced brass arrangement" and a melody from The Bangles' Eternal Flame."[15][16]

Critical reception[edit]

Some critics compared her vocals to those of Jewel.[6][12]

"Underneath Your Clothes" received generally mixed reviews from music critics, but some criticized her songwriting. While calling her voice "odd", Chuck Taylor of Billboard wrote that it "dart[s] from a delicate, girlie, Jewel-like delivery to a determined, tough-chick croon - it certainly gives the song a signature edge and multiple layers that seem to draw out something new with each successive spin."[6] Lisa Oliver of Yahoo! Music also found out similarities between Shakira and Jewel vocals, calling it "a Jewel-esque ground swelling,"[12] while Alexis Petridis of The Guardian called her vocals "racked".[15] Ted Kessler of The Observer noted that the song "may be slightly kooky pop-rock, but it's sung by someone with the range of an operatic diva."[2] Alex Henderson of Allmusic picked the song as a highlight from the album,[17] while Robert Christgau wrote that its lyrics have an "awkward, carnal, unhesitatingly female chauvinist."[18] Matt Cibula of PopMatters pointed out that "it could have been a great little thing, [...] simple, graceful, light, but now it’s a damned mess," citing the "tell-tale touches" at the start, the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” influence and “Penny Lane” trumpets by the end" as examples. Eventually, Cibula called it "a potentially cool song [that] has been studioed out of existence."[16] Frank Kogan of The Village Voice criticized its lyrics, calling it a song "with no fresh insights on the subject."[19]


"Underneath Your Clothes" is listed at number 391 on Blender's "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born" list, being cited as an "official love song of the American Association of X-Ray Technicians."[20] Bill Lamb of About.com picked the song at number four on his "Top 10 Shakira Pop Songs",[21] while Robert Copsey of Digital Spy placed the song at number 3 on their "Shakira's 10 best songs", writing that it "remains the ultimate Shakira ballad for the mere fact that we can still remember every single world of it to this day."[22] The website Latin Post ranked it as her eighth biggest hit, calling it "a powerful ballad."[9] The song also entered Billboard's list of her Biggest Hits at number 5.[23]

Commercial performance[edit]

The song was also commercially successful and peaked atop the charts in Australia,[24] Austria,[25] and Belgium;[26] being certified platinum in the three countries.[27][28][29] In Australia, the song debuted at number 2, peaking two weeks later at the top of the charts, while spending 20 weeks inside the Aria Charts.[24] In Austria, "Underneath Your Clothes" also debuted at number 2, remaining for three consecutive weeks at the position, before moving to the top the following week, while also being at number three for eight consecutive weeks.[25] The song also topped the charts of Hungary,[30] Ireland[31] and Netherlands.[32] In other countries, the song also experienced commercial success, reaching number two in France,[33] Germany,[34] New Zealand,[35] Norway[36] and Switzerland.[37]

In other countries, it became a top five[24] or a top-ten hit. In the United States, "Underneath Your Clothes" entered the charts at number 70 in March 2002.[38] In its fourth week, the song entered the top-forty at number 33,[39] while cracking the top-twenty two weeks later.[40] The song eventually peaked at number 9, on the issue dated 18 May 2002.[41] In the United Kingdom, it reached number three, becoming her second consecutive top-three single.[42] It entered "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles of 2002" at number 5, while her other single "Whenever Wherever" was placed at number 2.[43] The song is listed as one of the twenty biggest-selling singles of the 2000 decade according to Yahoo! Music with sales of over 6 million copies.[1]

Music video[edit]

Background and storyline[edit]

Shakira and former boyfriend Antonio de la Rúa in the music video. His appearance in the music video caused controversy in Argentina.

The music video for "Underneath Your Clothes" was directed by American photographer Herb Ritts and it was the second to last he directed before his death.[44] It starts with a black-and-white scene of a reporter asking Shakira how she feels about crossing over into the English-speaking music market, and the singer, ironically, answers him in Spanish. Shakira claimed in her "MTV Making the Video" of the song that the "Crossover" claims had been her daily bread, and that she heavily wished for this to be included into the video. The video illustrates her loneliness as a music artist when she goes on tour. Then, scenes of the singer performing the song live with her band and passionately hugging her boyfriend (played by her real-life then boyfriend Antonio de la Rúa) are shown.[9]


"Underneath Your Clothes" was the second video by Shakira to retire on MTV's TRL on May 14, 2002, when it was at #3 on the countdown. The appearance of de la Rua in the video led to music retailer Tower Records Argentina banning sales of her albums in the country.[45] The reason behind the ban was that Antonio de la Rua's father Fernando de la Rúa, who was the President of Argentina at that time, had resigned "in the midst of profound economic and political turmoil in the country," and the decision to ban sales of Shakira's albums was a "direct protest against Antonio De la Rua -- not Shakira."[45]

Live performances[edit]

To promote the single, Shakira went on to a number of places. She performed the track on the television programs CD:UK (ITV1), Domingo Legal (SBT), Late Show with David Letterman (CBS), TRL (MTV), Party in the Park 2002 (ITV1), among others. The limited edition of the album, entitled Laundry Service: Washed & Dried (2002) presented an acoustic version of the song as a bonus track.[46] She also performed an acoustic version of the song on VH1 Divas Live in Las Vegas (2002).[47] The singer's second live album, Live & Off the Record (2004),[48] presented a live version of the song performed during an April 22, 2003 concert in Rotterdam, Netherlands, which was part of the singer's Tour of the Mongoose (2002–2003). Shakira also performed the song live at the concerts for her Oral Fixation Tour (2006–2007) and The Sun Comes Out World Tour (2010-2011), however the song was not in the set-list of the Spanish and Latin American concerts. The performances were also included on the Oral Fixation Tour and the Live from Paris CD/DVD, respectively.[49][50] Shakira also presented a piano mix of the song at the "Ein Herz für Kinder" and "Clinton Global Initiative", with only vocals and piano, and excluded the complete second half of the song.[51][52]

Cover versions[edit]

  • Irish singer Kieran Goss covered "Underneath Your Clothes" for the charity album Even Better Than the Real Thing Vol. 1.
  • Swedish singer Amy Diamond covered it on the Super Troupers compilation album.
  • Brazilian girl group Rouge performed a Portuguese version called "Você Me Roubou" (You stole me, or better, You stole).
  • Diana in Series 7 of Spanish talent show Operación Triunfo (Operation Triumph) also covered the song.
  • Shakira performed the song with German band Big Soul on the season 1 finale of the German version of X Factor.

Formats and track listings[edit]

The following are the major formats of the release of "Underneath Your Clothes".

CD maxi
  1. "Underneath Your Clothes" (album version) — 3:44
  2. "Underneath Your Clothes" (acoustic version) — 3:55
  3. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Mendez club radio edit) — 3:24
  4. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Thunderpuss club mix) — 6:52
  5. "Underneath Your Clothes" (video)
CD single
  1. "Underneath Your Clothes" (album version) — 3:44
  2. "Underneath Your Clothes" (acoustic version) — 3:55

Official remixes[edit]

  1. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Acoustic Live Vox Version)
  2. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Bastone & Burnz Mix)
  3. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Fairlite Remix)
  4. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Lester Mendez Club Mix)
  5. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Lester Mendez Club Mix Radio Edit)
  6. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Lester Mendez Dub Mix)
  7. "Underneath Your Clothes" (The Xquizit Dj X D&D Dub Mix)
  8. "Underneath Your Clothes" (The Xquizit Dj X D&D Vocal Remixes)
  9. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Thunderpuss Club Mix)
  10. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Thunderpuss Club Radio Edit)
  11. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Thunderpuss Club Video Edit Mix)
  12. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Thunderpuss Radio Edit)
  13. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Thunderdub)
  14. "Underneath Your Clothes" (Thunderpuss Tribe-A-Pella)


  • Producer by Shakira
  • Co-produced by Lester Mendez for Living Stereo
  • Arranged by Shakira and Lester Mendez
  • Keyboards: Lester Mendez
  • Guitars: Tim Pierce and Brian Ray
  • Bass: Paul Bushnell
  • Percussion: Richard Bravo
  • Drums: Abraham Laboriel, Jr.
  • Horn arrangements: Lester Mendez
  • Horn charts and direction: Camilo Valencia
  • Trumpet: Tony Concepción
  • Trumpet and piccolo trumpet: Jim Hacker
  • Baritone and tenor sax: Ed Calle
  • Bass trombone and tuba: Joe Barati
  • Trombone and bass trombone: Dane Teboe
  • Background vocals: Shakira and Rita Quintero
  • Recording engineers: Terry Manning, Javier Garza and Gustavo Celis
  • Mixing engineer: Eric Schilling
  • Additional engineers: Carlos Paucar, Mike Couzzi, Jorge González and Alfred Figueroa
  • Assistant engineers: Jorge González, Tony Mardini, Ken Theis, Ed Williams, Chris Carroll, Christine Tramontano, Nicholas Marshall, Oswald Bowe and Alex Dixon


Chart successions[edit]

Preceded by
"I'm Moving On" by Scott Cain
Australian ARIA number-one single
May 19, 2002 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Without Me" by Eminem
Preceded by
"Without Me" by Eminem
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
June 29, 2002 – July 20, 2002 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Perdono" by Tiziano Ferro
Preceded by
"Dance With Me" by 112
Belgian (Flanders) number-one single
June 29, 2002 – August 3, 2002 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"De Pizza Dans" by Dynamite and Robsnob
Preceded by
"Without Me" by Eminem
Ö3 Austria Top 40 number-one single
July 13, 2002 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Was Is' Mit Du?" by Professor Kaiser
Preceded by
"The Logical Song" by Scooter
Irish IRMA number-one single
July 27, 2002 – August 17, 2002 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Like a Prayer" by Mad'House


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External links[edit]