6th November, 1999

It's been a while since Luis Miguel has turned up here. Two years, in fact, which is a perfectly reasonable length of time to go between #1 songs, but his career to date has been so extensively documented here that it's hard to feel this appearance as anything but a falling-off, or even a passing of the generational torch.

But a quick check of dates shows that he was born within a year or two of Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, Alejandro Fernández, Jennifer Lopez, and Selena, all of whom were (or would have been) around 30 in 1999. (Enrique Iglesias was the kid of the bunch at 25, and Shakira even younger at 23.) But where the above (save Selena, QEPD) were consolidating their positions as hitmakers, breakout stars, and even futurists, Luis Miguel was by now a grand old man of Latin Pop, prematurely aged not just by his head start in the business but by his choice of material over the last ten years: a young man singing old men's songs in a faultlessly classy manner, a silken voice united to smoldering good looks without the elasticity or charm of his contemporaries who could play younger and breezier.

If there has been such a thing as a generic Luis Miguel song, "O Tú o Ninguna" is more or less it: exquisitely orchestrated, with the oboe again prominent, but after the punchy fleetness, sexy dynamism, and emotional lavishness of "Ciega, Sordomuda," "Livin' la Vida Loca," "Bailamos," "Loco," and "Dímelo," it sounds tinny and hollow, a thin layer of varnish next to gleaming chrome. "You or Nobody" is the title sentiment, and the lyric is almost exactly predictable: he doesn't care about any face or voice that isn't hers, he doesn't care about his own skin because it's not her. It is, in line with Miguel's history, a well-written lyric, and there are pleasures of imagery and unexpected phrases that the bland sweetness of the music and melody can't entirely erase (the second verse is actually an incisive psychological portrait of the song's object), but ultimately it feels lightweight, and more fatally, old-fashioned. We have seen the future, and Luis Miguel is no longer it.

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