Shakira denies plagiarism allegations over song La Bicicleta

The Colombian singers Shakira and Carlos Vives have appeared in a Madrid court to answer allegations by a Cuban-born singer and producer that they plagiarized his work in their award-winning hit La Bicicleta.

Shakira smiled as she entered the court in downtown Madrid on Wednesday. She did not answer reporters’ questions.

Shakira and Vives rejected the allegations by Livan Rafael Castellanos that La Bicicleta, which means “The Bicycle” in English, contains lyrics, rhythm and melody similar to those of his 1997 song Yo te quiero tanto.

Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, told the judge that Castellanos’s song “is nothing like … La Bicicleta, the melody is different, the music is different, the subject matter is different”.

“My [song] talks about my homeland, it’s a salute to my homeland Barranquilla, Colombia, not Cuba,” Shakira said, according to Europa Press. “It’s different.”

Vives, 57, who composed Yo te quiero tanto with music producer Andrés Castro, also said he did not know the song or Livam, as Castellanos is known.

La Bicicleta won two of the three biggest Grammy Latino awards for 2016, including song and record of the year.

In the song Shakira and Vives sing “que te sueño y que te quiero tanto” (I dream of you and love you so much), while Livam says “yo te quiero, yo te quiero tanto” (I love you, I love you so much).

“There is nothing similar about it, not the harmony, not the theme,” said Shakira, who hummed several fragments of her song during her court appearance.

She said La Bicicleta is a folk song which pays tribute to Colombia while Livam’s is a “Dominican salsa” which “tries to be a folk song” but is “a mess”.

Livam, who works in Madrid as a composer and producer, told the court that Castro had access to his song through his representative. His complaint is also against Castro and Sony music.

“It’s like they are touching one of my children … they are stealing from me,” Livam said, on the verge on tears.

Shakira, who lives in Barcelona with the FC Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué and their two sons, will appear in court in Spain again in June for allegedly evading €14.5m ($16.4m), a charge the superstar singer’s defence lawyers deny.

With her mix of Latin and Arabic rhythms and rock influences, Shakira is one of the biggest stars from Latin America, scoring major global hits with songs such as Hips Don’t Lie and Whenever, Wherever.

She has sold more than 60m records.


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