Words like “phenomenon” and “unique” are easy to use, but it’s a whole lot harder to actually be those things. Yet nine albums into her recording career, Shakira is well worthy of both accolades - and many more.

Just look at the numbers. Shakira’s debut album as a 14-year-old, Magia, might have shifted only 1,200 copies in her native Colombia, but the eight albums she’s made since have sold a combined total of more than 70 million records. She saw her 2006 hit, Hips Don’t Lie, reach number one in an incredible 55 countries. The video for Waka Waka, Shakira’s official anthem for the 2010 World Cup has been viewed online well over 500 million times (making it one of YouTube’s most-watched videos ever). Plus, she’s won countless major awards and gathered vast armies of online fans, with 50 million on Facebook and 16 million on Twitter. And those fans are not just virtual, more than 2 million of them turned out to watch Shakira’s stunning Sun Comes Out world tour in 2010/11.

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