1999 was not just the year that marked the “revival” of conventional pop in the US. It was also the year of the Latin invasion – a phenomenon that proliferated fairly quickly across the globe. The faces and voices of that Latin domination were those of Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, and Marc Anthony. All four were stars in their own right before they crossed over to a mainstream music audience in the US. In my humble opinion, while they all offered a great escapist alternative to the “cookie cutter” sound of artists such as Britney Spears, N Sync, and Nelly, it was only Enrique Iglesias that blended a style and substance that transcended the “Latin halo”. It became very clear that he stood the greatest chances for longevity amongst his Latin American musical peers.
Given those expectations, one can only feel sorry for the artistic rut he is in now – which is manifested on his new single “Finally Found You” featuring Sammy Adams. On “Finally Found You”, Enrique sings over a monotonous dance beat of the type that producers such as RedOne and David Guetta have inundated us with through each of their songs making most them virtually indistinguishable from each other. Enrique’s vocals are “processed” and hence lack the warmth that permeated through fantastic pop tracks such as “Bailamos” and “Love to see you cry“. He has essentially tried to sound like every other artist as opposed to sounding like himself. Enrique ought to revert to an approach wherein his songwriting drives the production of the song and not the other way around. That reverse approach has only truly worked for dance-pop artist Samantha James on her debut album “Rise”. The verses of the song are not even remotely memorable. The only bit of the song that is likely to stick in your head at the end is the part where Enrique says the words “Finally Found You”. That is not the initial reaction any popstar should aspire to get from his or her fans.
The internet officially unlocked the doors to easy musical discovery in the late 90s. This should have cemented diversity as the golden standard for pop music. Yet, mainstream pop music (i.e. music that terrestrial radio plays) has turned more homogenous than ever. More importantly, it has also morphed into a confining and limiting space for any artist (at least in the US) that wants to stand a chance at “charting” in the Billboard top 40. On Enrique Iglesias’ new single, it is pretty obvious that the Latin hearthrob is a victim of modern pop’s musical confines. He sounds absolutely nothing like the man that assaulted international music charts with his hit infectious single “Bailamos”. Instead, he has become the victim of a desire to reconcile the artist in him with the music of today. Unfortunately, he fails at his attempt of a musical compromise and succumbs to a “beaten to death” sound perpetrated by a few of pop music’s most “sought after” producers. As an Enrique fan, I feel sorry for him. It would be a shame if new musical offerings by him become a case of diminishing returns. I wish Enrique Iglesias the best for his musical endeavor. Hopefully, he has the courage to go back to his artistic roots and rediscover the spark that made him a huge global star back in the late 90s.
Last, but not least, here is a full-length clip of “Finally Found You”.