Enrique Iglesias: 7

Christine Klunk

Enrique Iglesias


Label: Interscope

What to say about Enrique Iglesias? The appropriately titled 7 is his seventh full-length album and his third English release. On this new album, he co-wrote every track and co-produced several. His musical debut was released nine years ago when he was only 20 years old. Iglesias hasn't yet hit 30, and certainly doesn't seem to be slowing down.

But... he's Enrique... son of Julio Iglesias. Enrique's talent should be restricted to sappy ballads and smooth crooning about "making love". "Baby, he's addicted!" Good grief. Is it the very category of shameless pop that makes me and many others scoff at his music and image? What does he need to do to gain credibility? Seven albums in nine years, songwriting ability, relentless touring, a bajillion singles and videos, and a slew of awards including a Grammy, five AMAs, several Billboards, and even a couple of ASCAP songwriting awards -- it all potentially adds up to a respectable and successful recording career. The big question: can Enrique Iglesias be considered a respectable and credible artist?

Let's take a quick look at Mr. Iglesias's career path. In 1995, he left the University of Miami to pursue music. By the end of the year, he'd released Enrique Iglesias on Fonovisa Records. By 1998, he'd released two more Spanish albums on that label and had received two Composer of the Year awards from ASCAP. His English debut on Interscope Records, Enrique, hit stores in 1999 and went Platinum, selling 4 million copies abroad. Escape followed in 2001. Iglesias released Quizas in 2002, an album entirely in Spanish. Quizas charted #1 on the Latin Chart and crossed-over to reach #12 on the pop chart. And finally, in 2003, Iglesias won a Latin Grammy for Best Male Pop Album.

Like I said before... not even 30 yet.

So, the guy's obviously got the experience and know-how to not only enter the music industry, but to stay, for all intents and purposes, on top for upwards of a decade. And his dad is Julio Iglesias. That can't hurt.

Why, then, is it so difficult to admit that Enrique Iglesias is more than a teen heartthrob who'll be gone in a couple years? Well, there's the music to consider. Just because he's produced a lot of it doesn't make it great stuff. Case in point: 7. Coming in at just under 55 minutes, this record flows smoothly from beginning to end, no one song standing out amongst the upbeat and danceable tunes and the slick-but-tender ballads.

"Not in Love" starts with Iglesias's signature whisper asking us, "Are you ready?". Boasting a catchy Latin shuffle that firmly lodges the hook in the listener's memory, the song is an appropriate second single to the melodramatic first single, "Addicted". The beat sounds totally synthetic, however the electric guitar adds a simple and believable rock element to the tune.

This willingness to use such a traditional instrument continues on "The Way You Touch Me". Iglesias's vocals are so thickly layered with and surrounded by his backup vocalists that it's difficult to differentiate his voice from the studio musicians' during the chorus. Again, the beat sounds too much like a drum machine, however the song successfully straddles pop and rock. Iglesias even throws in a few Michael Jackson-esque "Wooo"s for good measure.

"Say It" is a simple ballad, and while Iglesias and his co-writers have succeeded in creating an uncomplicated and melodic hook, the cheese of the instruments takes away from any genuine emotion in his impressive vocals. However, regardless of what's backing him up, he's got pipes.

"California Callin'" is a throw-back to Enrique's "Be with You". This is actually a compliment. Despite what you may think of the genre, that song's throbbing beat and Iglesias's flawless falsetto made it one of the biggest hits of 1999. The same elements are here in "California Callin'". The hook, "California callin' / 20 miles to go, and I don't know / Should I turn around or should I leave you alone? / I don't know", bounces along at a reckless and jubilant pace.

After the single, "Addicted" -- a shameless exhibit of Iglesias's voice as well as his ability to write pop songs with huge "Naaaaa na na naaa na na" choruses -- the album blurs together. A couple songs could be used for aerobics routines, a couple mourn separation from a loved one, and all espouse the joys of freedom and self-expression. Here's something interesting: "Wish You Were Here (with Me)" has the same strumming beat as Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire", and "You Rock Me" appears to be the Iglesias rendition of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long".

7 closes with "Addicto", the Spanish version of the single. The end doesn't come a moment too soon. By the last track, I was having a real hard time with the endlessly peppy rhythms, the synthesizers, and Iglesias's voice. But my irritation doesn't take away from the fact that this man has written and released his seventh unabashed pop album. He's good at what he does, and knows exactly how to make the girls scream -- a definite talent. Whatever people think of his music or his genre, he does pop and does it well. So, there are three questions, really. Is Enrique Iglesias a credible recording artist? Does it matter? And finally, what has Ricky Martin done since "Livin' la Vida Loca"? Hmm? Anybody?

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.