30th September, 1995

Let this be a lesson never to assume. You listen to and write about Latin Pop over the course of several years and start thinking you know what the parameters are. But 1994 and especially 1995 have messed with my assumptions so much that WHAT IS HAPPENING seems to be the only appropriate response. Not only have we seen a decisive shift in genre, away from bland romántico ballads towards distinctively flavored regional music whether uptempo or down, but this is the second live cut in a year to make the top of the chart.

Yes, of course it's Luis Miguel at the height of his powers, and nearly anything he recorded was bound to end up here. But this isn't the Luis Miguel we've become familiar, even overfamiliar with in the past eight years. He's looser than he's been in ages — since he was a teen idol, in fact — and deviates from his usual velvet-lunged passionata by letting the band behind him, massive string section and all, play with tempo, even vamp a little. It's a mariachi orchestra, but the song is pure pop in its harmonics and structure, and if it's still a controlled looseness, closer to Sinatra Swings! than to the near-punk of La Mafia's live cut, he doesn't let the side down, acquitting himself handily outside the clinical, glossy perfection of his studio cuts.

"Si Nos Dejan" means "if they let us" (or "if they leave us," but not in this context), and it's either a silly trifle of a love song in which the Always Unspecified They are all that's standing in the way of true love, ultimate happiness, a new dawn, and all the rest, or it's a really powerful, political song about the inescapability of power dynamics and how the system crushes personal happiness with ruthless thoroughness. I think it's the former, but multiple readings is what happens when you don't specify.

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