The singer took the stage with Jennifer Lopez at the 2020 game on her 43rd birthday to sing a medley of her hit songs, dance and play instruments to delight the crowd. In addition, the duo hoped to pay tribute to their respective Latin heritages.
However, the Colombia-born singer confused and delighted many viewers when she looked directly into the camera and made a sort of howling noise with her tongue. The NFL reposted the moment on Twitter, calling it the "greatest moment in Super Bowl history."
Fans were quick to turn the moment into a meme on social media, praising it as the star simply having some fun on one of the biggest nights of her career.
"If I ain’t seen anything ever that’s more meme-worthy, I give you Shakira tongue lol," one user wrote.
"Shakira gotta chill with her tongue," another user joked.
"shakira when she stuck her tongue out," a third user wrote.
However, many quickly took to Twitter to note that the memes may be inappropriate. They suggest that the star, whose father is of Lebanese descent, was doing a traditional Zaghrouta, often referred to in English as “Ululation.” The practice is a vocal noise used in Arabic culture to denote celebrations at events like weddings and parties.
"I hate to disappoint but Shakira’s tongue expression is called zaghrouta, a way to express joy in Arab culture. It also aludes to the dance 'Son de Negros' at the 'Carnaval de Barranquilla' where she is from in Colombia. Now you can go back to whatever interpretation you like," one user wrote.
"You really have to understand how huge Shakira’s performance was for the Middle Eastern community. 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," another user explained.
"Seeing Shakira belly dancing but also do the Zaghrouta hit me right in the feels. Arameans do it differently and it varies from country to country but it still made me proud to see her represent the Middle Eastern culture, even for a little bit," a third user wrote.