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[whitespace] Muy Pop

Enrique Iglesias makes his big-time crosssover bid

By David Espinoza

IS IT STILL SAFE to say that American pop music is currently experiencing a--for lack of a better phrase-- Latin invasion? With the release of pop star Enrigue Iglesias' first English album, Enrique (UNI/Interscope), the answer is a big "Si." Full of muy romantico pop ballads and, more importantly, gorgeous pictures of the young Iglesias looking off in the distance like a Gap model for the young women to drool over, the album is set to follow in the footsteps of this year's other big Latin hits.

True, Iglesias' music follows less of a rock pop path than his biggest, yet just as pretty, rival, Ricky "Mira Me" Martin, but hey, there is always room at the top for the new Latin crossovers. Instead, much of the material on Iglesias' 13-track album centers on well-produced danceable beats and synthetic Spanish guitar leads, only outshined by Iglesias' soaring voice. It is an unabashedly formulaic pop album.

To some longtime fans, Iglesias' venturing out into the English market is a sell-out. Not to worry, though. Either in a commitment to his Spanish-speaking audience or in the realization that fame in the U.S. can dry up pretty fast, Iglesias has included Spanish versions of three songs, including "Rhythm Divine," "I'm Your man" and "Sad Eyes." The last is easily one of the best tracks, with its rolling country guitar rhythms and vocals reminiscent of Chris Isaak.

These days, many Latino artists, especially North American ones, are taking advantage of their biculturalism and making music that reflects both worlds. The problem is, as in the case of Iglesias, it doesn't always work, and the Spanish versions often sound much more fitting of the music than the English ones. The bigger issue, of course, is whether Latin crossovers can have a lasting impact on non-Latin pop in a nongimmicky, nonexotic way. A lot of the success of artists like Martin and Iglesias over the last year can be attributed to the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S., but are Latin pop's 15 minutes of mainstream fame almost up?

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From the December 9-15, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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