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Forget Dad And Let The Son Shine
November 24, 2003
At last Enrique Iglesias feels he has shed the 'son of Julio' tag. Katherine Tulich spoke to the man about music and life.
He may be one of Latin music's hottest stars, but with the release of his new album 7, Enrique Iglesias has all but eliminated any reference to his Spanish heritage.
"There is not even a burrito on this album," he laughed. "That's what the record company executive told me when he heard the album. I may be Spanish, but I grew up listening to '80s pop music, so that's much more my reference than salsa or merengue."
Still, Latin music is where Iglesias got his start - his first four albums were recorded in Spanish, selling more than 14 million copies and making him one of Latin music's biggest-selling artists.
His first English album, Enrique, in 1999 was his breakthrough crossover album, selling 5 million copies worldwide. He topped that with the release of Escape in 2001.
"The whole Latin thing exploded, then faded when I was still making Escape, and I was worried I was going to get stuck in that trend and not be able to emerge from it," Iglesias said. "I felt a lot of pressure. I felt people didn't really care about me musically, but I got lucky and it ended up being my best album so far."
It also rid him of the nagging tag of being "son of" one of Latin's music's most famous Lotharios, Julio Iglesias.
To this day, father and son have a strained relationship, especially as the younger Iglesias's star has risen.
"When I am with him we never speak about business. I keep it totally separate. He still has never seen me perform," he said. "People find that strange, but I think it would be a very awkward moment the day he comes to see me."
It was suggested recently that the pair were considering a duet.
"I was asked to sing with him, but I didn't feel it was the right time. I respect him and I admire his career, but the day I sing with my father it has to be spontaneous.
"I don't want it to be a set up by the record company."
He also avoids being set up as a sex symbol. "We were going through the shots for the album package and there were all these head shots and beauty shots and I was saying, 'Oh no, take it away.' I'm not stupid, I know sex sells, but I just hate it.
"I'd rather just focus on the music. To be honest, I could stand naked on the cover of the album with the biggest penis in the world and if the music sucked, nobody would buy it. Too many artists today focus too much on the 'sex sells' policy but then how does that prove you are a talented artist? I would rather people buy my albums knowing they are buying them because they like my music, not my look."
But the singer has made one recent concession to beauty, even if he likes to downplay the whole procedure. A trademark mole that punctuated his right cheek has been removed.
"Did you notice it?" he asked, feigning naivety. "A lot of my good friends who see me all the time didn't even notice it."
Due to the pressure of fame, the singer said he needed a break before recording 7.
"I needed to live and to have a normal life and get some inspiration for some songs," Iglesias said.
The first single from the album is Addicted, a slow, moody ballad. "I wrote that song when I was feeling a little depressed about being on the road for so long," he said. "I felt it was really different and dark and could be talking about a lot of things, not just love."
On the subject of love, the softly spoken but chatty Iglesias is amiable on most topics, except one - his girlfriend, tennis sex kitten Anna Kournikova. When I mention that Kournikova has, to excuse the pun, been the butt of a few jokes, he quickly rises to her defence.
"I thought music critics are bad, wow, sports writers are much worse," he said.
"Here you have this girl who came out of Russia when she was a little girl and got to No.8, but that's still not good enough. To me she is one of the smartest girls I have ever met, and her career is far from over."
The two met on the set of his video Escape.
"Yes I know it's very cliche and very Hollywood, but that's how we met," he admitted shyly.
When pushed on the state of the relationship, he answers evasively.
"I really have not been good for relationships in the past. I lose focus easily because of my busy career. But I can now say I'm more focused and it is important to have someone special."
7 is released today through Universal Music.
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