Shakira’s meme-worthy tongue trill is actually called a zaghrouta -- and it’s culturally significant to the singer

Performer paid homage to her heritage in more ways than one

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) (Jeff Kravitz, 2020 Jeff Kravitz)

Shakira may have created the best new meme of 2020, but there’s cultural significance behind the tongue trill that instantly became iconic Sunday night.

If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, let’s rewind for just a bit.

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Shakira opened the Super Bowl halftime show for Jennifer Lopez, and both artists (who are both over the age of 40, thank you very much) absolutely slayed their performances. There were hit songs, lasers, sexy backup dancers, guitar solos and Lopez on a stripper pole absolutely living her best life.

One moment, however, truly resonated with viewers, and it was when Shakira began to sing her hit song “Hips Don’t Lie” and she interrupted it with a tongue trill toward the camera that made everyone at home and on the internet pause.

The moment was too good to pass up, and many people on Twitter and Instagram immediately turned the moment into a viral meme, with people comparing it to a wild turkey call, the sounds birds make at 6 in the morning, and even the sound humans make to get a dog excited.

Soon after the clip went viral, many people pointed out that the funny sound coming out of her mouth was actually a nod to her Lebanese heritage.

Most people know that Shakira is Colombian, but her father is Lebanese, and the tongue flick she did is actually called a zaghrouta, which is a traditional Arabic expression of celebration and happiness. To those familiar with Middle Eastern culture, the vocal trill was fitting for her performance, which featured many other tributes to Shakira’s heritage, like Latin music and belly dancing.

The tributes didn’t end there. Once J. Lo took the stage, she paid tribute to her roots in New York City by performing her hit “Jenny From The Block” and donning a Puerto Rican flag outfit while “Born In The USA” played, a clear nod to her heritage.

So not only did Shakira gift us with the most hilarious meme of 2020 thus far, but she also taught us a little cultural lesson.

About the Author:

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.