Shakira made a cultural stance with her meme-worthy ‘tongue thing’ at the Super Bowl

Shakira made a cultural stance with her meme-worthy ‘tongue thing’ at the Super Bowl

With rumors floating around about lip singing, millions of Americans’ eyes were glued to their television sets to see J. Lo and Shakira during the Super Bowl halftime show.

Jay-Z was instrumental in bringing these Latina icons to the Super Bowl LIV halftime stage and with two Latina sensations, it was bound to be political.

We have witnessed the “Hips Don’t Lie” singer shake her rump but this platform was her platform to show cultural prowess. The belly dancing and gyration were quickly forgotten as she walked towards one of the cameras and made what some thought was a strange war-like yell. Within minutes she was the face of memes.

The seemingly amusing conundrum stunned fans. The first thing people do is laugh when they don’t understand what is happening. The other half of Americans entertained their curiosities and googled Shakira’s tongue fluttering.

People with knowledge of Arabic and Colombian culture immediately came to Shakira’s defense. They offered insight for Shakira’s performance and by late Sunday, their explanations had become a trending teachable moment on Twitter.

“I really did not plan to wade into Super Bowl Twitter but this is Shakira’s very tongue-y attempt at zaghrouta or a helhoola,” Seattle Times reporter Dahlia Bazzaz tweeted. “It’s not a turkey call.”


The zaghrouta is an expression of joy and celebration with cultural significance in Middle Eastern culture. It can also be a reference to the world renowned Carnival de Barranquilla in Colombia. Her usage of the sound pays homage to her Colombian and Lebanese roots garnered much respect after the fact.