Candy man

For fans of Enrique Iglesias, ‘Euphoria’ is not just the name of his latest album.

Enrique Iglesias_311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Enrique Iglesias_311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Enrique Iglesias could come out in front of an audience and sing the telephone book, and there probably wouldn’t be many people in the crowd who would mind. But thankfully, the Spanish-born Iglesias is not just eye candy but one of the most successful pop crossover artists in history, almost single-handedly responsible for making Latin music accessible to the mainstream. Does someone remember Ricky Martin? “Latin music and Latin artists are here to stay, whether they’re singing in English, Spanish or changing styles,” Iglesias told the US music trade publication Billboard last week as he announced a major fall tour together with younger American crossover radio favorites Pitbull and Prince Royce, which will straddle the English and Spanish-language markets in the US.
“There are no rules to music anymore,” the 36-year-old Iglesias added. “You can turn on top 40 radio and listen to Latin artists, and you can turn on a Latin radio station and listen to American artists, too. It goes both ways now.”
It’s a far cry from the mid-1990s, when Iglesias, the son of legendary crooner Julio Iglesias and main squeeze of tennis star Anna Kournikova, first started releasing albums. Despite his good looks, swiveling hips and seductive music, he was labeled a Latin music artist and catered mainly to the Latino population in the US. Between 1995 and 1997, Iglesias sold more than 17 million Spanish-language albums, mostly in the US, and won the 1996 Grammy for Best Latin Performer.
However, in 1999 he released his first English-language album, Enrique, and Iglesias became a worldwide phenomenon, with the album going gold in 32 countries. Still, he had to fight the perception in the music world that he – and Latin-tinged pop – were passing phases that would quickly fade away.
“It always used to be mind-boggling to me because it almost always sounded like we were a fad and that we were going to disappear, and I never saw it that way,” he told Billboard. “Latin music and Latin artists are here to stay, whether they’re singing in English, Spanish or changing styles.”
To back up those words, Iglesias released Euphoria last year – his first album in which he sang in both English and Spanish, essentially putting the language issues to rest and letting the music do the talking.
Today, Iglesias’s stature is so towering that he was able to turn down a joint tour earlier this year with Britney Spears. And two weeks ago, he wowed Middle America anyway by appearing as a guest on American Idol, performing his smash hit “I Like It” and his new single “Dirty Dancer,” both from Euphoria.
Still, his heart has remained with his core Latino audience, and last month he was the big winner at the Billboard Latin Music Awards held in Miami, taking home nine prizes, including Latin Artist of the Year.
“My career has had its ups and downs, but my Latino audience has always stood by me,” he said at the ceremony.
Israeli audiences will finally have the chance to stand by Iglesias when he arrives to perform on June 1 at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv. Don’t plan on sitting.
Enrique Iglesias performs in Tel Aviv on June 1 at the Nokia Arena.