24th December, 2005
A former teen idol negotiating his way into middle age has several models to choose from: on one side is Luis Miguel sinking into prematurely soporific nostalgia, and on the other is Ricky Martin remaining preternaturally youthful and au courant. Cristian's choice in 2005 was to change labels but keep on plowing his usual furrow. His previous appearances here have alternated between beautifully-sung ballads (Juan Gabriel at one point called him the most versatile voice in Mexico) and uptempo jangle-rock hits -- this is the latter, wholly in keeping with the twin themes of rock and reggaetón that have dominated 2005's Hot Latin #1s.
As the last #1 of 2005, it was really only a week-long interregnum amidst the 15-week reign of Daddy Yankee's "Rompe" (as though making up for the underperformance of "Gasolina"); it will be spring 2006 before there's a new #1. But it's also a beautiful way to close out this most pivotal of years in our travelogue, an evocation of the eternal truths of pop: love is what matters, a cool voice riding a hot, prettily-frenzied production will always have appeal, and syncopated rhythms make you want to dance.
But it's also a return to a subtle tradition in the Latin Pop chart that has few analogues in the Anglophone equivalents: it could easily, with only the listener's frame of reference changing, be a song about God rather than about an earthly lover. "Eternal love" is a deeply Romantic concept when applied to human pair bonding; depending on the philosophy of life you subscribe to, it may have more theological coherence than material. In any case, a chorus like "Your love changed me, it made me the man I am/You give me everything I want, you brought me peace/Heartache never again" has all-too-obvious significance to someone like me who grew up listening to pop simulacra directed exclusively toward Christ.
Of course, the glory of pop is that you don't have to choose. Obviously people feel that way about their earthly lovers too, and more power to them. Either way, Cristian's never been in better voice, and his angelic falsetto in the middle eight is a high point of a classy if never surprising record. This isn't the future of Latin Pop; but it's a delightful dead end.