13th August, 1994

Two years ago, he burst onto this list like a breath of fresh, modernizing air, his soulful voice pirouetting with the sheer joy of self; now, he slogs his way through a dispirited power ballad, leaning on crutches that have long since gone out of favor, a shell of his former self.

It's worth noting, of course, that neither of those things are entirely true: "Otro Día Más Sin Verte" wasn't nearly as revolutionary as it seemed at the time, particularly now that world has Selena in it, and "Si Te Vas" is neither his low-point nor the end of the road for him, though it is the end of our association with him. Like many former and to-be-former number-one stars, he's dug a comfortable niche for himself as an overtanned, permagrinning fixture on the Latin nostalgia circuit, releasing an album every so often — the most recent is Clásicos/Classics, a trip through American-Latin standards that begins with "Oye Como Va" and ends with "La Bamba" — without bothering a chart that is increasingly focused on what the kids are listening to these days.

So perhaps the inevitable comparison here is to Billy Joel's "River Of Dreams," a similarly bland, soulless song that makes similar use of the gospel-choir crutch, which similarly marked the end of a career as a pop hitmaker, and which similarly exposed melodic and vocal weaknesses that were not previously so noticeable. Secada's voice actually sounds patchy here, like he might be sick or like he's laying down a demo vocal which they'll nail on the second pass. (Or, if it were several years later, which the producer forgot to pitch-correct before the track went to master.) The track starts promisingly, with a twinkly piano line that recalls house music, but any interesting production ideas are soon thrown out the window so that Secada can emote (poorly) all over the place.

"Si Te Vas" means "if you go," and it's as standard a lament/vow of love as the title promises. Unfortunately for him, Secada hasn't learned another trick; he's still pushing his once-fascinating combination of vaguely funky beats, soul-style singing, and dreary romanticism, and he's being left behind.

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