21st October, 1989

I may just be balladed out. But it's difficult for me to hear much in this song except a lot of grimacing emoting, which the video bears out. (Luis Miguel watch: it was clearly shot before the one for "La Incondicional," as witness his uneven mop of hair, and I'm left wondering if was promoted first but took longer to get to the top, thanks to the vagaries of the airplay market.) The backing is thin and conventional, the only faint surprise being a brief electric guitar solo, which is quickly replaced by a saxophone.

That solo is hardly revolutionary or even interesting by Anglo pop standards, but the electric guitar could have decadent, imperialist-American connotations in much of Latin America up through the 80s. Rock en Español was far more upsetting in the context of its home audience in the 80s and 90s than the Anglophoners who embraced it with a patronizing "about time you caught up" air (even as rock lost unrecoverable ground in England and America) could possibly have understood. But we'll have plenty of time to explore that later; for now, just note the almost dangerous sophistication it represents in this song.

The dangerous sophistication, it is to be understood, is not on the part of Miguel himself, who is a nearly invisible presence in his own song. (At least as much as he can be, with that creamy voice emoting so hard all over the place.) The lyrics place an unknowable, untouchable woman at the center, and wind so thickly around her in metaphor and simile that seeing the anonymous model-dancer in the video is an inevitable letdown.

The title translated to English is "Cold As The Wind," and the chorus continues, "dangerous as the sea/sweet as a kiss/Don't let yourself love, because/I don't know if I have you/I don't know if you come or go/You're like an unbroken colt." (Luis Miguel expressing iffy sentiments about women watch: are those supposed to be good things or bad?)

As has been the general rule throughout this travelogue, romantic sentiments inevitably sound even more romantic (or ridiculous!) when written in Spanish, because they're expressed in idioms and images which are unfamiliar or old-fashioned in English. An English-language power ballad about a "cold," "vain, capricious, ideal" woman would be unlistenable; in Spanish, the language is only slightly more heightened than normal for pop.

1 comment:

  1. In 1988 or so I complained that White Lion was using guitars because they didn't dare use violins.