Enrique Iglesias en Ingl

After all the hype of today's musical crossovers, L.A. Latinos think its OK to "do it" in English

By Anthony Montoya
Published on LatinoLA: December 2, 1999

Enrique Iglesias en Ingl

How great it must feel to jump on stage, see your name flashing in lights and hear thousands of women from all over LatinoLA scream your name and shout "I love you" at the top of their lungs. Experiencing that firsthand last week was Enrique Iglesias during his performance at Hollywood's Virgin Megastor, where he sang four songs from his first English album, ENRIQUE on Interscope/UMG.

Emotions were running wild that night as more than 2,000 of fans waited in line for hours to have the opportunity to see this multitalented Spanish singer/songwriter do his stuff live. A couple of young women even camped out overnight for the chance to have him sign their newly purchased CD.

Iglesias is just one of several other Spanish-language recording artists who have recently made the move toward tapping into the English music market. And by the recent success of his pop single "Bailamos," which was the number one song not only on American music charts but in fourteen other countries as well, there is no doubt that ENRIQUE will be a best seller during the holiday season.

There has been some criticism by Spanish-language music lovers about these artists who are making the crossover to the English music market. They have been accused by a small but vocal minority of being greedy sell-outs, casting off their native language and loyal fans for the chance for potential acceptance in English-speaking countries, particularly in the world's largest market - the United States.

Ironically, there are some US Latinos who think differently and feel that its a great business and career move, particularly if the artist wants to target another appealing group of consumers: young Latinos living in the United States.

A fan of Enrique's music for years, Graciela Alcazar, 22 of Pacoima exhudes: "He's so cute and talented, but he already has the Latin American audience in the bag. Now it's time for the rest of the world to see why this Latino is so hot."

Many non-Spanish speaking Latinos are in favor of the idea of recording in English because they can now understand the songs. They like the mixing of Latin music styles with English and Spanish lyrics.

Jennifer Varela, 25, a second generation Mexican-American from Diamond Bar, is a fan of Spanish language music, but she does not speak Spanish. "I love listening to artists like Luis Miguel and Alejando Fernandez. Their voices and music sound so beautiful and romantic, but unfortunately, I don't understand what they are singing," she said.

To Jennifer, the cross-over to English is offering her the best of both worlds: she gets to listen to the Latin American artists she loves, except that now they are singing to her in her native language - English. Jennifer says, "Just because you don't sing in Spanish doesn't make you a sell-out. Remember, here in the US, there are lots of Latinos who are very much into their culture but who no longer speak Spanish."

In fact, ENRIQUE follows the pattern set by other crossover artists, embellishing his accessible pop musical stylings with easily identified Latino flourishes. Whereas Ricky Martin added a samba beat here, a salsa step there, some of Iglesias' selections include the light strumming and finger-picking of a Spanish guitar. Although very few of the songs - most especially a cover of Bruce Springsteen or his duet with Whitney Houston - can be described as being Latin music, there is no doubt that Iglesias holds his culture close to his musical soul.

But ultimately, it is the ability to communicate in the universal language of music that is the precursor to any kind of success, whether the artist is Latino or not.

Alex Armindariz, a 20-year-old aspiring hip-hop music artist from La Puente, thinks that any Latino who can sell a million records, whether in English or in Spanish, has made quite an accomplishment. "Music is for the masses," said Armindariz. "[When I make it], I want my fans to be from all around the world, not just [from] the San Gabriel Valley."

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