And so we close out 1995, perhaps the most tumultuous year at the top of the Latin chart yet, with the arrival of a new voice bearing an old name. The people's princess is gone, the youth, invitation, and opportunity she represented having dissipated in the San Antonio night. Instead, we have another form of royalty.
He dropped out of college — the University of Miami, he was no scholar — to record this album, having secretly borrowed money from his nanny to record demos which he sent out under a fake name, because he didn't want the old man's prestige influencing the decisions. Of course, once the marketing people found out. . . .
Julio Iglesias was one of the greatest singers of the twentieth century, an interpreter of great sensitivity and a richness unusual in pop. His son inherited little of his burnished vocal quality; Enrique's voice is instead rather thin and pinched, if perhaps more nimble, better suited to a less stately pop era. But he has similar control and, which is what matters in pop, a similar ability to orchestrate emotions; listen, here, to how he clips his voice on the very edge of rock grittiness on the chord change.
But there will be plenty more opportunities to discuss Enrique Iglesias in the years to come; he currently holds the record for the most number ones on the Hot Latin chart, and is unlikely to be unseated any time soon. To the song. At first hearing, it's what I've been mentally cataloging as Another Fucking Ballad; but wait. It's actually been a while since we've had a straight-up ballad in this travelogue, and despite the tempo this isn't particularly Adult Contemporary. The hard drum sound, entirely devoid of syncopated rhythm; the guitar and organ which, though muted and in the background, pull hard in the direction of classic rock; Iglesias' own half-croon, half-groan. This is almost not Latin Pop at all, at least not in any of the traditional senses we've come to identify, neither regional nor tropical nor even, really, romántico. This is just pop that happens to be in Spanish, and could easily be otherwise.
Which make sense for a U of M dropout, who's lived in Florida since he was ten; his heritage is Spanish, but his instincts are all American — or international, same thing, thanks cultural imperialism. Even if he speaks with a Spanish accent (and you can hear the Spaniard when he sings "corathón" in the first line), he's been an international jet-setter all his life, identified with no tradition except that of wealth and privilege, provided with no cultural shorthand except that of universal human emotion. He perhaps oversells it here; he's young, and the song needs an injection of meaning; the premise ("Si Tú Te Vas" means "If You Leave") is some of the most well-covered ground in pop, and the lyrics don't distinguish themselves. Not for the first time, a good story, great personal attractiveness, and a strong publicity blitz have conspired to launch a new pop sensation.
But just how sensational he turns out to be will, of course, be a recurring theme in these pages for some time to come.