9th May, 1998

1998 was, globally speaking, the year of the boyband. In the wake of the dissolution of British stalwarts Take That, a new generation of groups like the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Boyzone, Steps, 98º, and Westlife rushed in to fill the void. The pull of this rising global tide was felt in Latin pop as well — former boyband icon Ricky Martin established himself as a solo artist (not unlike Robbie Williams in the UK), and Servando y Florentino scored, Hanson-like, a solitary left-field #1 out of the Venezuelan pop-salsa scene.

Seventeen and sixteen respectively the week this song hit #1, Servando and Florentino Primera had been homeland heroes for several years already as the voices of La Orquesta Salserín, one of the primary competitors to Menudo throughout the Americas. Like Enrique Iglesias, they had a respectable pop lineage: their father, Alí Primera, had been one of the shining lights of Venezuelan nueva canción in the 60s and 70s; and like Marc Anthony, they stood by the relative authenticity of salsa despite their unabashedly pop profile.

Not that Marc Anthony had anything to worry about. "Una Fan Enamorada" ("a [female] fan in love") is very much boyband material, from the plushy pop-disco melody (recalling an earlier era of boyband, the Bee Gees) to the lyrics' apparently-sympathetic-but-on-examination-not-really portrait of their own fanbase. Such songs are always exercises in ego-stroking for the singers — even when they approach the tragic near-perfection of Eminem's "Stan," the unspoken premise is still how great the artist must be to inspire such cracked devotion in the first place. "Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny."

And Servando and Florentino aren't quite up to even the relatively gentle rigors of the song. The highest reaches of the melody scrape against the limitations of their immature voices, and even the closest thing salsa has to a sure thing, the funky breakdown at the end, is rendered glib and pointless by their inability to riff convincingly. Like too many boybands, they were the sound of a season, and struggle to be heard to any great effect beyond.

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