by Enrique Iglesias, pop (1999)
Interscope/Universal, ASIN B00003001J

If you want to be mean, you can savage Enrique Iglesias's thickly-accented English, citing bad enunciation. You can also accuse him of trying to hard to be the next Bee Gees, what with his falsetto warbling out of control in tracks like Alabao and Oyeme. But you know what? His thick accent is his strongest weapon here. If Ricky Martin aims for a listener's erogenous zones, Enrique Iglesias aims straight for the heart.

His accent has its charm - it's like listening to your loved one warbling in the shower. And he has this heartfelt sigh that conveys sincerity without going corny or overly melodramatic. The result? This man plays the fantasy lover very well indeed, and Enrique ends up an hour plus of a romantic experience even candlelight and bubble baths pale in comparison.

For instance, when he playfully stalks the object of his affection on The Rhythm Divine, ooh, be still my heart. And in I Have Always Loved You, when he croons There have never been anyone else, I can just melt. He somehow makes all these trite statements so real and so palpably heartrending. Indeed, I Have Always Loved You is one of my favorite songs, a song of bittersweet reminisce of a first love long lost. There he turns up the temperature even more in I'm Your Man (no, not a cover of the George Michael song with the same name), a sexy midtempo tune where he vows that even if she runs off with a million other men, he will still get her in the end.

And ai ya ya, Bailamos is the perfect tune for Zorro fantasies, conjuring images of masquerades and dark, mysterious hunks vowing eternal, undying love to me, only me. And in Be With You, he really gets down on his knees and begs the lass who ran away to come back. He can't survive without her, and instead of snorting, I melt inside.

I'm not too sure about his cover of Bruce Springsteen's Sad Eyes, one of my favorite songs from The Boss, but that song is already a splendid tune by itself, with wonderful lyrics about a man who is willing to wait until her heart heals before he makes a move. After all, he knows that she is hurt and unhappy inside. Sad eyes never lie after all. I still prefer The Boss' strong, raspy vocals over Enrique's high shaky tenor in this song, but Sad Eyes is a great song in the first place. And it suits the fantasy of the sensitive, romantic hunk Enrique cleverly weaves on the listener.

Enrique is one of the most potently sensual experience indeed, thanks to this man's innate sensuality that oozes even through the anonymity of the radio (his dad must be so proud). It also helps that this man has the backing of writers and producers such as Patrick Leonard and Billy Steinberg, some of the folks who can create the most catchy pop hooks around.

This album is not only listenable, it is hot. It's just too bad the singer doesn't come along with the CD. Ooh mama.

Rating: 98

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