Shakira’s meme-worthy cry during Super Bowl halftime performance was a nod to her Arab roots

Let’s put the high-pitched warble into context

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Shakira performs onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic) (2020 Jeff Kravitz)

Shakira shocked fans Sunday night during the Super Bowl with a tongue-tastic, warrior-like cry that seemed to be the most meme-able moment of the big game.

During the pop star’s opening set, she looked directly into a camera and let out a high-pitched vocal cry. Many found it odd and turned to the internet to crack a joke, making it one of the most talked-about moments as the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers duked it out on the field.

Meanwhile, while the internet was exploding with memes, there were people at the ready to provide the cultural significance behind the peculiar warble. It is called a zaghrouta, a traditional Arabic expression of happiness.

It’s no secret Shakira is a proud Colombian performer but the musician is also of Lebanese descent. Her father was born into the melting pot that is New York City to Lebanese parents. He later put down roots in Colombia where the Latin pop star was born. Shakira’s namesake also comes from an Arab influence, meaning “grateful” and “full of grace.”

With Arab roots, its no surprise Shakira picked up belly dancing, her iconic moves eventually becoming part of her brand. She’s always fused her Barranquilla origins with her Lebanese roots, even adding Arabic to one of her top Spanish hits “Ojos Asi” which translates to “eyes like that.”

The takeaway: As the #LatinoGang continues to praise the Latin-infused performance and Twitter is still exploding with memes, know that there was some Middle Eastern culture displayed on the Super Bowl stage Sunday night.

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