The Enrique Iglesias Phenomenon
By Arielle Castillo
Enrique Iglesias is, in 2011, more on top of his game than ever. The superstar solo artist’s most recent album, Euphoria, has moved some 3.5 million copies and counting, and singles like “I Like It” and “Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)” remain ubiquitous on pop radio. But still Iglesias, on a recent rare moment at home in Miami, seems almost misty-eyed for a part of the music industry now virtually extinct. “I used to be one of those guys who went to the record store weekly.… I would buy albums constantly and just read the credits. I found that I haven’t done that in quite some time. It’s sad,” he says, “because I think the album era is practically over.”
|Iglesias (center) performing alongside Wisin y Yandel at Madison Square Garden, New York, February 2011|
That may be true, but Iglesias is sending it out with a bang. Euphoria is the album so dear to his heart, he released it twice. This November, a new, updated version hits the shelves and the Web, thickened with a handful of new songs. “It’s your baby,” he says of what it feels like to put out an album, but this most recent one in particular. “You want to make it as good as possible and last as long as possible.”
Luckily, Iglesias is the kind of mega-selling artist, rare in the industry these days, for which this kind of thing still works. His 1995 self-titled debut album has sold some 8 million copies worldwide to date, and the following eight records have had similar success.
His pedigree may have something to do with it; that famous surname is courtesy of his father, legendary Spanish crooner Julio. His mother, the Filipina journalist and television presenter Isabel Preysler, comes from a tradition of style and entertainment as well. Iglesias, though, has refused to coast on any family reputation. Instead, he’s taken this early multicultural mix and combined it with a childhood spent in Miami—he’s a Gulliver Prep alum—for a particularly global pop sensibility. Until last year, Iglesias’ recorded output reflected a neat split between Spanish and English-language material, garnering an exponentially larger fan base whose outer edges didn’t necessarily overlap.
With Euphoria, however, the common area of that Venn diagram started to expand. It was his first effort to feature both English and Spanish material on the same recording, with each comprising about half. With the number of bilingual Latinos increasing not only in the United States but worldwide, this seems like a sharp bit of marketing.
It’s a natural evolution of Iglesias’ upbringing and output to date. “I’ve always wanted to make an album where I had both English and Spanish. It really helped creatively because whenever I got stuck in English I’d move on to Spanish, and vice versa,” he says. “It just made it more interesting, and made it more fun, because making an album can be grueling at times, especially if you really, really care.”
By his own account, the grueling part of the process is largely self-inflicted—one that results in stringent standards for every individual track. While many pop stars claim to be song-driven, Iglesias truly is—his material can span, in a single disc, romantic ballads to dance-floor bangers. The only common thread is an unceasingly impassioned delivery and a somewhat intangible but marked sense of drama.
|FROM TOP: Iglesias and a few fans at Mexico City’s Auditorio Nacional; On stage with Juan Luis Guerra at Madison Square Garden, February 2011; Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull|
photographs by alan silfen