Shakira may have created the best new meme of 2020, but there’s cultural significance behind the tongue trill that instantly became iconic Sunday night.
If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, let’s rewind for just a bit.
Shakira opened the Super Bowl halftime show for Jennifer Lopez, and both artists (who are both over the age of 40, thank you very much) absolutely slayed their performances. There were hit songs, lasers, sexy backup dancers, guitar solos and Lopez on a stripper pole absolutely living her best life.
One moment, however, truly resonated with viewers, and it was when Shakira began to sing her hit song “Hips Don’t Lie” and she interrupted it with a tongue trill toward the camera that made everyone at home and on the internet pause.
The moment was too good to pass up, and many people on Twitter and Instagram immediately turned the moment into a viral meme, with people comparing it to a wild turkey call, the sounds birds make at 6 in the morning, and even the sound humans make to get a dog excited.
Soon after the clip went viral, many people pointed out that the funny sound coming out of her mouth was actually a nod to her Lebanese heritage.
Most people know that Shakira is Colombian, but her father is Lebanese, and the tongue flick she did is actually called a zaghrouta, which is a traditional Arabic expression of celebration and happiness. To those familiar with Middle Eastern culture, the vocal trill was fitting for her performance, which featured many other tributes to Shakira’s heritage, like Latin music and belly dancing.
Chiming in because I know everyone will be making jokes about this for days — this is a popular Arab tradition, called zaghrouta, used to express joy at celebrations. In the melting pot that is Miami, you could not have picked a better Super Bowl act and this was a lovely touch. https://t.co/q1H9l8UpQ5— Lulu Ramadan (@luluramadan) February 3, 2020
The tributes didn’t end there. Once J. Lo took the stage, she paid tribute to her roots in New York City by performing her hit “Jenny From The Block” and donning a Puerto Rican flag outfit while “Born In The USA” played, a clear nod to her heritage.
So not only did Shakira gift us with the most hilarious meme of 2020 thus far, but she also taught us a little cultural lesson.