August 16, 2022

In The Quantity Ones, I’m reviewing each single #1 single within the historical past of the Billboard Sizzling 100, beginning with the chart’s starting, in 1958, and dealing my approach up into the current.

“Tonight, we dance.” You couldn’t probably invent a greater, cheesier, extra ridiculous three-word phrase for a Spanish heartthrob introducing himself to an English-language viewers. By the point he conquered the American charts for the primary time, the 24-year-old Enrique Iglesias already had quite a bit going for him: worldwide stardom, a well-known final title, the type of absurd handsomeness that doesn’t appear actual. These are all invaluable property, however they’re not sufficient to push a track to the highest of the Sizzling 100. For that, you’ll want to be shameless sufficient to seize the zeitgeist by the hand and whisper in its ear. Enrique Iglesias was (and is) nothing if not shameless, and “Bailamos,” his first-ever English-language single, was brazen sufficient to swoon its technique to the highest.

A part of that’s timing. 1999 was the yr of the so-called Latin pop explosion, a second that noticed fairly a couple of artists of Latin descent pushing their technique to the highest of the charts. All of these artists got here from totally different locations, and a few of them didn’t even put their heritage front-and-center. (It was some time earlier than I knew that Christina Aguilera, the singer who had the #1 track in America simply earlier than Enrique, was half-Ecuadorian.) Enrique Iglesias had a curious distinction as one of many stars of that Latin pop growth: He isn’t even Latin, at the least in the best way that the phrase is usually understood. As an alternative, he’s European.

Enrique Iglesias got here from Spain and lived most of his life in Miami. However earlier than he made his English-language debut, Enrique had already spent a couple of years dominating the Latin charts. When he moved into the English-language market, Enrique pushed the Latin factor as exhausting and as shamelessly as he probably might. The tip result’s a track that embraces the entire Latin-lover stereotype as exhausting as Rudolph Valentino in a Zorro masks with a rose clamped between his enamel — a track so over-the-top in its attractive theatricality that I can’t assist however admire it.

You most likely already know his father. In 1963, Actual Madrid goalkeeper Julio Iglesias suffered a automobile accident that left him unable to stroll for 2 years. Together with his soccer profession over, Julio targeted on music. 5 years after his accident, Julio gained the Benidorm Worldwide Tune Pageant and signed with Discos Columbia. Over the subsequent few many years, Julio turned some of the in style balladeers on the planet. He recorded in Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, German, even Russian. In 1981, Julio’s disco-flavored tackle the Cole Porter track “Start The Beguine” turned his English-language breakthrough. It didn’t chart within the US, nevertheless it went to #1 within the UK.

Willie Nelson was on trip in London along with his spouse when he heard Julio’s tackle “Start The Beguine” in a restaurant, and he determined that he wished to work with this singer. He discovered the singer’s title, and he informed his supervisor that he didn’t care if this man was an unknown; they wanted to file collectively. When Nelson heard that Iglesias was one of many greatest stars on the planet, he figured that was even higher. Willie and Julio duetted on “To All The Ladies I’ve Cherished Earlier than,” a track that Albert Hammond and Hal David had written collectively in 1975.

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Julio and Willie launched their model of the track in 1984, and it turned the highest-charting Sizzling 100 single for both singer. (It’s a 3. One different Willie Nelson track, 1982’s “All the time On My Thoughts,” additionally peaked at #5; that one is a ten.) “To All The Ladies I’ve Cherished Earlier than” was Julio Iglesias’ solely main American hit, however the man was established. For lengthy stretches of time, Julio Iglesias would possibly’ve been the one Spanish-language singer who most People might’ve named.

In 1970, when he was first turning into well-known, Julio Iglesias met Isabel Preysler, an aristocratic Filipina girl who’d moved to Spain and began working as a TV host after a while as a mannequin. Julio was the primary particular person she’d ever interviewed. The 2 married in 1971, they usually had three children earlier than splitting up in 1979. The third of these children was Enrique Iglesias. (When Enrique was born, the #1 track in America was Tony Orlando & Daybreak’s “He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You).”)

When Enrique was a bit child, he and the opposite Iglesias kids lived with their mom in Madrid. In 1981, although, Enrique’s grandfather Julio Iglesias, Sr. was kidnapped by the ETA, a militant Basque separatist group. The ETA demanded a two-million greenback ransom from Julio Jr., however Spanish police rescued Julio Sr. in a dramatic pre-dawn raid. On the time, Isabel Preysler was getting kidnapping threats of her personal, so she despatched all three of her children to dwell with their father, who’d moved to Miami two years earlier. Since their father was normally touring, these children have been principally raised by their nanny. These, I suppose, are the drawbacks of getting dad and mom who’re enormously wealthy and internationally well-known.

Enrique went to prep college, acted in musicals, and ultimately studied enterprise on the College Of Miami for a yr. The entire Enrique Iglesias origin story, which positive looks as if one thing cooked up in a public-relations laboratory, is that Enrique wished to change into a singer however didn’t wish to commerce on his final title. Enrique claims that he saved his ambitions secret even from his father. As an alternative, Enrique received involved along with his father’s outdated publicist, borrowed some cash from his nanny, and went to Toronto to file a demo. Whereas procuring that demo round, Enrique concocted a complete fictional backstory, claiming that he was actually Enrique Martinez, a singer from Guatemala. These demos received him signed to the Mexican label Fonovisa, and the folks at that label should’ve been very joyful once they discovered that they may put the phrase “Iglesias” on their new artist’s file covers. Enrique launched his self-titled debut album in 1995.

Enrique Iglesias immediately turned a sensation all through the Spanish-speaking world. He sang grand, aching pop ballads, and he appeared precisely the best way that he nonetheless seems to be immediately. Enrique’s debut single “Si Tú Te Vas” reached #1 on the Billboard Latin chart, and Enrique then adopted that track with an unbroken string of seven extra #1 hits. Up to now, Enrique has racked up 27 #1 hits on that chart — essentially the most of anybody ever. His first three albums all charted within the US, and his 1997 sophomore LP Vivir even went platinum. (Enrique’s self-titled debut additionally went platinum, however that didn’t occur till 2000.) When Enrique first went on tour in 1997, he performed stadiums all throughout Latin America.

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When Enrique Iglesias was blowing up throughout Latin America, Common had the rights to distribute his data in Europe. That’s how he got here to the eye of Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling, the 2 British producers behind Cher’s large hit “Imagine.” The producers flew to Miami, noticed Enrique dwell, and realized that he was about to change into large. The producers roped in Paul Barry, one of many writers who’d labored on “Imagine.” Barry figured that one of the simplest ways to assist Enrique break within the English-language market could be to jot down a track in English that included some Spanish — the identical system that fellow worldwide megastar Ricky Martin utilized in “Livin’ La Vida Loca” the identical yr. However there was one drawback: Barry didn’t converse Spanish.

“Bailamos” is the product of a bunch of English songwriters and producers doing their greatest to sound Spanish-ish. When you’ve ever heard “Bailamos,” this could not precisely be a shock. In Fred Bronson’s Billboard E book Of Number one Hits, Paul Barry says, “I requested somebody the way to say ‘let’s dance’ in Spanish, they usually mentioned, ‘Bailamos.’ I put the accent within the fallacious spot as a result of I believed they mentioned, ‘Bai-la-mos,’ and naturally it’s ‘bai-la-mos.’ It’s humorous as a result of Enrique says folks inform him it’s cool how the accent is on the third syllable. It’s my ignorance.”

As soon as you recognize that “Bailamos” comes from the identical group accountable for “Imagine,” you may’t unhear it. Each songs come drenched in squiggly dance-pop keyboards, and each of them have large, unstoppable choruses. “Bailamos” additionally has flamenco guitars, presumably to indicate Spanish romance. Barry and Taylor’s lyrics are about as on-the-nose as you can ever get with this type of factor: “We take the ground! Nothing is forbidden anymore!” The message of the track is just about simply: Enrique Iglesias needs to bop with you. That’s all of the track actually wants.

Within the fingers of a singer with even the tiniest iota of self-consciousness, “Bailamos” could be a borderline-offensive mess. However with Enrique Iglesias giving the track every thing, it achieves a sure tacky majesty. Enrique leans all the best way into the track’s exoticist erotic rapture, whispering in Spanish on the intro after which belting the titular phrase out with cinematic brio. The track works principally by way of Enrique’s sheer dedication. He wails out that he needs to attain for the stars, and I imagine him.

In a approach, Enrique Iglesias and “Bailamos” have been made for each other. Enrique’s favourite transfer is that factor the place you throw your head again and to the facet whereas swishing your fingers again right into a Jesus Christ pose. You’ll be able to solely try this transfer when the track you’re singing hits an unlimited, dramatic swell. “Bailamos” is sort of nothing however huge, dramatic swells. It affords Enrique a number of probabilities for his huge transfer. And within the varied “Bailamos” movies, Enrique does that transfer time and again.

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“Bailamos” first got here out as a bonus monitor on some editions of Enrique Iglesias’ 1998 Spanish-language album Cosas Del Amor, and that’s a part of the explanation that the track has three totally different music movies. When it first got here out, “Bailamos” had a reasonably low-budget clip, with Enrique wandering by way of Miami and watching folks salsa dancing within the streets. Then Will Smith caught one in every of Enrique’s dwell reveals and requested Enrique to contribute a track to the Wild Wild West soundtrack. (That’s why Enrique is within the “Wild Wild West” video.) A barely totally different mixture of “Bailamos” appeared on the film’s soundtrack, and Enrique made one other clip for the track with “Child One Extra Time” director Nigel Dick. That video was shot partly in Mexico and partly on a Hollywood backlot, and it naturally featured Enrique as a horny gunslinger.

Whereas “Bailamos” was effervescent, Enrique Iglesias signed to Interscope in a six-album mega-deal that was reportedly value $44 million. That’s when Enrique shot the “Bailamos” video that hit TRL exhausting. Future Bulletproof Monk director Paul Hunter shot that video, and it informed a glitzy story about Enrique working in a nightclub and stealing a gangster’s impossibly sizzling girlfriend — primarily adapting the primary couple of verses of Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana (At The Copa).” (“Copacabana” peaked at #8 in 1978. It’s an 8.)

Interscope mainly strapped a rocket to Enrique Iglesias. “Bailamos” served as the primary single from his English-language album Enrique, which got here out in November 1999. Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling produced a lot of the album, nevertheless it additionally had a couple of songs that Enrique recorded with longtime Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard, in addition to a David Foster-produced Whitney Houston duet on a Diane Warren track. Interscope was decided that “Bailamos” would not be the one Enrique Iglesias track that English-speaking People would hear, and Interscope was profitable. Enrique’s profession has been lengthy and fruitful, and we’ll see him on this column once more quickly sufficient.

GRADE: 7/10

BONUS BEATS: In 1999, the makers of the Furby, the squeaky computer-voice Gizmo-looking robotic factor that turned a vastly in style late-’90s Christmas current, made Furby Combine, an album of Furby-sung pop tracks that was solely obtainable in Spain. Naturally, that album featured a Furby overlaying “Bailamos.” Right here it’s:

BONUS BONUS BEATS: Right here’s Sean Paul’s 2000 track “Tiger Bone,” which featured frequent collaborator Mr. Vegas interpolating the “Bailamos” melody on the refrain:

(Mr. Vegas’ solely Sizzling 100 single, the nice 2004 monitor “Pull Up,” peaked at #98. Sean Paul will ultimately seem on this column.)

BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: I’m sorry to do that to you, however right here’s William Hung’s 2004 “Bailamos” cowl:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: On a 2020 episode of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Alex Newell and Patrick Ortiz sing “Bailamos” to one another on the dancefloor. I’ve by no means watched this present earlier than, however this scene has me questioning if perhaps I ought to begin. Right here it’s:

The Quantity Ones: Twenty Chart-Topping Hits That Reveal The Historical past Of Pop Music is out 11/15 through Hachette Books. You’ll be able to pre-order it right here.