18th July, 1998

Three singles from the same album, three number-one hits — this is Enrique Iglesias levels of success, and it's worth taking a moment to step back a bit from the churn of the chart and survey the landscape. The Hot Latin #1 spot has had its dominant artists, of course — Luis Miguel is not yet thirty in 1998, and hardly to be counted out — but the totalizing effect that the new generation (Iglesias, Fernández, and soon enough Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, and one still unheard voice) is having is unprecedented. From the perspective of 2012, it looks very much like a bubble, like so much else in the late 90s, from Bill Clinton's Pax Americana to the first dotcom rush to unprecedented profits from sales of recorded music. But in 1998, 9/11, Web 2.0, and the cratering of the music industry are still far in the future. So is the splintering of the Latin market, which will make the coming decade fascinating in its novelty, diversity, and unpredictability; but here at the tail end of the twentieth century, the illusion of consensus reigns supreme.

"Yo Nací Para Amarte" does nothing to break the illusion. Alejandro Fernández, with the support of the Estefan machine, has been established as a major young heartthrob, and this third single — written, once more, by Kike Santander — is another swooning ballad in a classicist mode. A bolero, with sensitive finger-picked guitar leads and gently swaying percussion, it leans deliciously florid and is only kept in check by the extraordinary sensitivity of Fernández' vocal performance; listen to the infinitesimal pauses and controlled quaver on the final chorus, and you can hear why Luis Miguel, the reining king of vocal technique, may have cause to worry.

The floridity, then, is all in the lyrics — and they're extremely florid, as you might guess from the title ("I was born to love you"). A declaration of self-immolating desire as hyperbolic and quasi-religious as anything found in medieval courtly-love poetry, it's hard to take seriously as a statement made from one adult to another. From a literary teenager to what he imagines the girl he has a crush on to be, however — but that way lies unprofitable autobiography. Thank God for Fernández' coolly controlled interpretation; the slight irony and distance he provides is the only thing keeping the song upright.

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