Fans all over the world are buzzing about Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s Super Bowl halftime performance on Sunday night, but there was one particular moment that went viral after the show—Shakira’s “tongue dance” during her red hot set. Everyone was clearly confused after the Colombian singer stuck her tongue out and let a high-pitched sound which many people dubbed a “turkey call.” But there’s actually a cultural significance behind the tongue move.
Throughout the lively performance, Shakira made several nods to her Colombian heritage, but also to her Lebanese heritage. Anyone who is familiar with Middle Eastern culture, knows the sound she made is called a Zaghrouta, a traditional Arabic sound/expression used to celebrate or mark a joyous occasion.
Although many people were quick to mock the singer, other fans came to her defense. “That’s @shakira reppin her Arab heritage,” one user wrote. “She’s half Arab. Her name is Arab! She’s an Arab-Latina!” A reporter from the Seattle Times also weighed in on the moment. “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. It’s a sound used by Arabs to express excitement or celebration — it’s not a turkey call,” she explained.
On Sunday night, the 43-year-old singer gave fans a memorable show by singing her most popular hits like Whenever, Wherever, Chantaje and She Wolf. But one of the songs that paid most tribute to her Lebanese heritage was Ojos Asi. Another fan pointed out that this song features Arabic lyrics. “You really have to understand how huge Shakira’s performance was for the Middle Eastern community,” the user wrote. “She had belly dancing, a mijwiz and a derbeke, performed “Ojos Asi” which was one of the few Shakira songs to have Arabic in it, did a Zaghrouta, all love on the biggest stage.”
In other Super Bowl news, this is the reason why Shakira’s husband Gerard Piqué was absent from the Super Bowl halftime show.