Shakira’s Super Bowl Zaghrouta Celebrates Arab History

03 February 2020
Culture, Halftime Show, Super Bowl, 2020, Shakira, Zaghrouta, Arab culture, Happiness, Performance

Yeah, Kansas beat San Francisco, but Shakira’s ululation stole the show

It’s always one of the most meme-able nights of the year, but Shakira’s halftime show – as the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers to their first Super Bowl in 50 years – brought with it a bit of Arab heritage, too.

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Midway through her Super Bowl set, and with an army of dancers behind her, the 43-year-old (43! wait, what?) Shakira let out an impromptu zaghrouta that had the internet in meltdown.

Face to camera, tongue out, it’s easy to see how the high-pitched warble caused such a stir. But on a night when both Shakira and Jennifer Lopez celebrated diversity and female empowerment, it was rather nice to see the Colombian singer highlight the heritage of her Lebanese parents, too (if you really want to get into it, the name Shakira actually translates from Arabic to ‘full of grace’ in English).

But yeah, like we were saying, the internet...

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The power of the Shakira meme was spotted early…

And quickly adopted to levels of take-away greatness…

Before moving into a Wonka-based twilight zone…

Until, finally, being schooled on its true origins.

The Zaghrouta itself – it’s known as an ululation in English – is basically an expression of joy, and happiness... just head to an Arab wedding to hear it in all its glory. It was also used alongside drumbeats as inspiration for people when they went into battle. If, for some reason, you’d like to know what the sound actually means in English, well, the website The Secrets of Zaghareet has a theory...

“My Egyptian friend told me, ‘it’s all about the voice and in English it means, lo lo lo lo lo lo lo lo lo lo yeeee!’”

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So, while we should thank Shakira for bringing the word zaghrouta back into our lexicon, our advice is to keep the act itself going, too. Don’t let the woman's halftime show be in vein, make it part of your daily routine. Deliveroo comes early: zaghrouta! Realised that the shirt you want to wear isn’t on the laundry pile after all: zaghrouta! Decide to pull a sick day and go to the beach instead: ZAGHROUTA!