10th June, 2000

A victory lap to close out the millennium, a slice of content for the brand-new Latin Grammys (where Emilio was on the board) to award her over, a breezy slab of nostalgia to prove to the younger generation whose party it is that they're crashing -- various cynical readings of this song are possible, but they all melt away in the face of those bright horns, that clave rhythm, and the call-and-response montuno at the end. It's been seven years since Gloria Estefan reinvented her adult-contemporary self (which was itself a reinvention from the Latin party den mother of the mid-80s) as an avatar of nostalgic Cuban identity, and while she has kept up well, not to say brilliantly, with shifting trends in Latin pop, there's a paroxysmic joy to a song like this one that there wasn't to the more high-tech (if still brilliant) "¡Oye!" -- she's aging into a patriot.

An incurious listen would suggest that this is more of the salsa revival, perhaps fueled by the runaway success of "A Puro Dolor," but it's not Nuyorican salsa but Cuban mambo, which is what salsa always was (ask Tito Puente, who refused to call his music salsa), with added Puerto Rican and rhythm & blues overlays. The Havana-nostalgic video (for which she won an inaugural Latin Grammy) makes it clear: this is a celebration not of the horny, sweaty music of the immigrant 70s, but of the faultless, romantic entertainment of the pre-revolutionary 50s.

As a song, it's primarily an exercise in genre: the lyric is a demand that her lover not stop loving her, performed with the confidence of someone who doesn't feel particularly anxious about the result. (Whether that's because she has absolute trust in her partner's fidelity or doesn't really care about it is left as an exercise to the reader.) Compared to the high-energy, recklessly psychologizing music of youngsters like Ricky Martin or Marc Anthony, it's perhaps a little hermetic, a little too classy; but then maybe it's not as overdetermined, not as noisy for the sake of noise. But as a relief from the unchanging reign of "A Puro Dolor," it's a breath of the freshest air.

(Note: this is the first Gloria Estefan song I've had occasion to write about here since I wrote about Gloria Estefan for a week straight three years ago at One Week One Band. A bunch of the YouTube embeds no longer work, but if you like me on Latin Pop, here's a bunch of it.)

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