It feels like a lifetime ago when the pretty Latin boys rushed the American music scene in the late ’90’s. Most ended up as one hit wonders like Lou Bega (you know, the "a lil’ bit of Monica in my life! - blah, blah) and legendary rump-shaker Ricky Martin. By 2001, the Latin explosion was just a fizzle, but that year was a peak in Enrique Iglesias’ career with his second English album, Escape selling nine million worldwide. By 2003, his next English album, Seven (7), was considered a commercial flop.
On June 12th the Grammy-winning Latin-pop sensation is returning with his third English CD, Insomniac. The first single Do You Know? (The Ping Pong song) peaked at number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and there are high expectations for the new album. While Insomniac isn’t a complete snoozer, there are moments of heavy narcolepsy...somebody give me a NoDoz!
Insomniac starts off incredibly doubtful. The first half is filled with a hectic confusion of pop/Latin/hip-hop that leads one to believe he is being pressured to appeal to a "younger crowd" so he choked out meaningless duds. At times it works in the first song "Ring My Bells", a mid-uptempo track that isn’t outstanding, but enjoyable due to Enrique’s smooth vocal and the not too overproduced production. A nice club remix might make this song a hit.
"Push" is Enrique’s weak attempt at hip-hop with a duet from D-list rapper Lil’ Wayne. Enrique sings, "Push push back upon it (girl) / Go ahead lay it on it" in the chorus with lackluster beats and Lil’ Wayne’s grating babbles. Unlikely collaborations sometimes work, but only when it’s at least a little believable. I highly doubt 32 year-old Enrique ever listens to Lil’ Wayne and it is even more unlikely Lil’ Wayne even knows a name of an Enrique Iglesias song. What’s next, Ricky Martin doing a posthumous duet with Ole’ Dirty Bastard?
More snoozers continue and sometimes get laughable like in the yawner, "On Top of You", which sounds like the title of an early 1990’s gay porn that hasn’t been transferred to DVD. Enrique sings, "Baby, you’re going to love what I do when I’m on top of you." Really, Enrique? I guess after all those, as he said, "hurtful" 2005 rumors about his tiny penis and supposedly starting his own "small condom" line, is a song like that is necessary?
Overall, the first half of the CD is tragically uninspiring with wispy vocals and music that resembles sound affects for an early ’80’s Atari video game.
By the second half Enrique finally falls into his rhythm with a string of interesting and ambitious songs like "Little Girl", "Stay Here Tonight" and "Sweet Isabel". He closes with Spanish versions of the duds from the first half, which are actually more enjoyable in Spanish...and I don’t even know Spanish! The second half is more Latin-based and seems to be his musical comfort zone rather than forced, stinky pop. Thankfully, by the last note Enrique proves he is more of an artist than a pop tart.
While every artist wants to appeal to "younger audiences" I hope the narcolepsy feel of the first half of the CD won’t ruin the powerful, up all night journey of the second half. It’s hard to say if this will be Enrique’s comeback CD... but it is hard to resist a hot Latin man who has no problem singing live on stage to the gays - click here for the link!
by Enrique Iglesias
Original Release Date: June 12, 2007
Label: Interscope Records