8th January, 2005

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The first new number one of 2005 is also (probably) the last time we'll be seeing Obie Bermúdez on this travelogue. It's also his best song, record, and performance of the three we've heard: a year on from his breakthrough, his voice is huskier and less whiney, which exactly suits the low-key, largely acoustic mood of the song. It's the kind of song which an Anglophone contemporary like Gavin DeGraw might have blanketed malls with, but because Latin pop is so musically diverse (and because Sr. Bermúdez as a pinup had only very limited appeal) it would be quickly left behind in the rush to elevate more dazzling songs and sexier stars.

But while it's here, it's a very good rock ballad with slow, barely discernible island rhythms. The almost inaudible maraca insisting on a dotted triplet on the second verse while the drums plod in straight rock time is a vague gesture toward Cuban bolero, or even Puerto Rican plena. It's soon overwhelmed by the galumphing rock sheen, of course, but its memory and Obie's faithfulness to a soulfully syncopated rhythm makes the song engaging where a smoother, more straightforward singer would make it soporific.

2005 is an unusual year in the middle of the 2000s, a sort of preview of what the chart will be like under streaming: so dominated by a few massive hits that there will only be nine #1s all year, the record low since 1991's eight. That record will be broken in a decade's time, but the modern period of Latin Pop really starts this year. Stay tuned.

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