6th March, 1999


Because Enrique Iglesias still holds the record for the most #1 Latin hits in the US — Luis Miguel would have to stage a decade-long comeback to get anywhere near him — at a certain point, this blog just becomes a means of tracking his career arc. And while this isn't the most interesting song he's sung, it's notable for being his most mature performance to date. The fact that it's the first of his #1s that you could imagine his father singing no doubt has a lot to do with that.

"Nunca Te Olvidaré" (I'll never forget you) was the theme song to a Mexican telenovela of the same name, and it's also the first song Enrique Iglesias brought to number one that he's credited for writing and composing alone. I've touched before on the importance of telenovelas to Latin pop — it's similar to, but not the same as, the effect Hollywood soundtracks had on Anglophone pop in the 90s — but by providing an avenue for creative expression and alternative musical identities outside of the rigorous, micromanaged single-album-single-single release schedule of a major label, novelas throw an element of unpredictability and novelty into the fermenting stew of Latin pop. Not that an Iglesias #1 was anything but predictable in 1999 (and there are more to come), but this relatively old-fashioned, restrained song, the second in a row to employ a real string section, is hard to imagine coming out of the pop-industrial complex that so far had governed his career.

The lyrics are the familiar pledging-eternal-love sort — the opening line is "Three thousand years may pass/You may kiss other lips/But I'll never forget you" — which dovetails perfectly with the novela's plot of star-crossed love across multiple generations. It's so old-fashioned, in fact, that it doesn't have a chorus in the usual rock-oriented sense, only A and B sections with variable lyrics, and of course the repeated refrain of the title phrase. It's been years since we've seen that kind of structure, and my affection for it — as well as my delight that Iglesias isn't making hamfisted rock moves — may be coloring my pleasure in this song. He's still overemoting, making up for his vocal deficiencies with strain, but he's learning to improvise a little, if only emotionally.

1 comment:

  1. Hey!

    Commenting again, hoping all is well and excited to see what writeups you cook up for the rest of the '90s, the aughts and beyond.