15th September, 1990

If you're an American, you know at least one José Feliciano song by heart, even if you hate it. His appearance here — sadly, his only appearance here (to date, anyway; believe it or not, there's an upcoming single I have hopes for) — is a welcome reminder that the success of Latin Pop in America has roots going back well before Billboard thought to assign it its own chart. I still think his version of "Light My Fire" is the definitive one, and his version of airy, flamenco-tinged Latin pop is one of the sounds of 60s and 70s AM pop that is easiest to lose myself dreamily in.

Of course, this isn't that; it's another ponderous early-90s ballad, with rubato keyboards and big gated drums, but you can hear a beautiful-if-slight song underneath it all, with Feliciano's trademark acoustic guitar adding a tasteful, witty running commentary throughout. I've seen the title given as both "¿Por Qué Te Tengo Que Olvidar?" and "Porque Te Tengo Que Olvidar" (reading from left to right, "why do I have to forget you?" and "because I have to forget you"), but the grammar's less important than the broken-hearted sentiment. Feliciano sounds his age here, a pop survivor who retains his professionally cheerful demeanor, and it's rather a relief from the series of overemoting blowhards (I like Luis Miguel, but really) that we've had recently.

Still, it's hard to get past that one-size-fits-all overproduction. Feliciano's at his best when there's more space to the arrangement; here he comes dangerously close to sounding like just another faded pop star trading on past glories for a valedictory lap.

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