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Steel Cage: Shakira vs. Rihanna

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9421__shakira_lAOL Music is featuring new videos this week from Shakira (pictured) and Rihanna, which means it’s time for another round of PopWatch Steel Cage. If this was strictly about the music, I wouldn’t have to think twice about giving my vote to Rihanna. Her ”S.O.S.” is catchier than bird flu, what with that Soft Cell sample and those cheeky lyrics (”Hold me close, because I’m your tiny dancer”), but the video is a low-budget mess. For one thing, Rihanna’s green dress looks like an unfortunate mash-up of Nick and Santino’s garden-challenge frocks from Project Runway, and worse, the whole dancing-with-mirrors bit was already done months ago (and with more panache) in Madonna’s ”Hung Up” clip.

On the other hand, while ”Hips Don’t Lie,” Shakira’s collaboration with Wyclef (wisely left off the original version of Oral Fixation, Vol. 2), reeks of a hastily assembled party track designed to reinvigorate her flagging album sales, I’m finding the choreographed skirt-waving utterly hip, um, hypnotic. So while it’s a close call, my vote goes to Shakira. Her patented booty-shake and rack-thrust will not be denied! Which video gets your vote?

Originally posted March 14 2006 — 4:31 PM EST

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