Shakira's Super Bowl Ululation is Actually an Arabic Tradition
We learned a lot last night.
We learned that Andy Reid can manage a clock. We learned that Jennifer Lopez still has it, although if you watched Hustlers you already knew that. We also learned that some people were offended by the halftime performance with Shakira because it was “racy” or “smutty” or some other assorted nonsense, which is crazy to me because Adam Levine took his shirt off last year and nobody got bent out of shape over that.
Two clips were shared more than any others last night on social media. The first was this bit of booty shaking, which really piqued some interest, if you know that I mean:
And the second was this amazing turkey call/ululation that sounded like the thing you used to do when you played “cowboys and Indians” with your friends back in the day (which I think is now offensive in 2020.) You used to put your hand over your mouth and then move it back and forth real fast, to emulate a high-pitched war cry or battle call or something like that.
Shakira did it this way:
Not sure what Shakira did here but I’m still into it https://t.co/xx2X7jxOOS
— Gifdsports (@gifdsports) February 3, 2020
I learned two things about this last night:
- this is called a “Zaghrouta,” which is a traditional Arabic thing you do when you’re cheering or excited
- Shakira’s father has Lebanese roots
Hatem Bazian, a senior lecturer in Near Eastern and ethnic studies at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Washington Post that he immediately recognized the unusual noise as a zaghrouta.
The expression has a “long-standing cultural presence” in countries such as Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, Bazian said. It is most commonly used by women at weddings in call-and-response form, but it has variations that make appearances at graduations and birthdays.
“It definitely has a long history without putting a particular date to it,” he said. “So much so that no wedding or celebration would be complete without having a zaghrouta expression taking place.”
Shakira’s usage can be most closely compared to an American cowboy shouting “yee-haw!” in celebration, Bazian said.
You learn something new every day.
For this reason, and other reasons, the Shakira and Jennifer Lopez performance now goes on my Mount Rushmore of Super Bowl halftime shows.