1st February, 1997

The thing to always keep in mind is that I'm ever only discussing a tiny portion of what was in the Hot Latin chart at any given time. So what is recorded, in this blog, as an unbroken string of romantico ballad after romantico ballad, Enrique and Marco Antonio following each other like night after day, was only a small part of a dynamic and ever-shifting Latin Pop scene which included hot dance jams, innovative rock en español acts, keeping-the-faith traditionalists in Mexican regional styles, and flashy novelty pop hits as well. By early 1997, Los Del Rio's "Macarena" has, alas, come and gone, reaching only #12 on the Latin chart even as it hit #1 on the Hot 100; it was always more of a tourist jingle than an organic Latin hit.

Instead we have the sixth Enrique Iglesias number one in fifteen months; Enrique Iglesias, his self-titled debut, has stuck around for so long that it's nearly in danger of running into the follow-up. Vivir, the Gorgeous One's second album, was (of course) hotly anticipated, and "Enamorado Por Primera Vez" ("In love for the first time") went straight in at #1, only the second song in Latin chart history to do so. It's a step up in terms of production, if not in vocal quality or songwriting: though a ballad — a power ballad, even! — it's very much a rock song according to its instrumentation. Soft rock, sure (the Bryan Adams of 1991 would surely raise an eyebrow in recognition), but the the guitars shred and the drums clump like very little we've had on the chart before.

This is a point where I'd love to hear from anyone who was in the Enrique demographic at the time: for someone who is (arguably) the most iconic and commercially powerful Latin Pop star of the past several decades, he's inspired relatively little fan-oriented chatter, and I can't really reconstruct, from my Anglo male 21st-century citadel, what his appeal was; or at least what drove the (commercial) response to him in a way it didn't, really, for anyone else. Lots of guys are pretty, after all. Did the famous name cross the generation gap and make his success a foregone conclusion no matter what he did? Were there extracurricular appearances I'm not privy to which made him more of a heartthrob than just a guy smoldering in a video clip? Am I just not hearing the music properly?

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