28th October, 2006

Wiki | Video

We interrupt your regular Latinoamericano programming for a three-week interpolation of furrowed-brow idol pop from Spain. David Bisbal first gained attention on the peninsula as the runner-up of the first season of Operación Triunfo (the Spanish edition of Star Academy) in 2002. He kicked around for a while, failing to win the opportunity to represent his country at Eurovision, before embarking on the kind of pop career that everyone in those early days of reality singing competitions was allowed. Smartly, he hooked up with producer and songwriter Kike Santander, who had helped shepherd the solo Gloria Estefan and Alejandro Fernández to glory, and used that production savvy and his own imitation-soul singing to become Spain's biggest pop star, for a time.

We've not been troubled by him here, but not for lack of effort: his second single went to #3 on the Hot Latin chart in 2002. It would take his third album, Premonición, and its debut single, an ungainly and outdated mix of rock muscle, flamenco noodling, Bisbal's impassioned yowl, and electronic scratching, before he landed at #1 stateside.

The single's cover art makes all too obvious what early-2000s careers he's trying to emulate: Justin Timberlake's Justified fedora, Ricky Martin's Almas de Silencio tight t-shirt and Pietà pose. Unfortunately he doesn't have either man's charisma or lightness of touch, and the result is a self-aggrandizing plod that slides off the memory almost as soon as it touches it. The lyrics are a bombastic, hyperbolic description of doomed love, exactly in line with Hispanist tradition and with nothing whatever new to say.

Not to worry, we'll hear from Bisbal again: the Latin market loves nothing more than a handsome, self-consciously brooding man. Maybe the second time's the charm.

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