source: The Courier-Mail, Australia
JUST LOVE THAT LATIN
ALL about love . . . Enrique Iglesias: "My life's not that much what I guess people would call a rock star life, like I go back home and I've got 30 chicks waiting in the pool with beach balls . . . I'm not David Lee Roth."
IT WAS 1999. With the world hanging off Ricky Martin's every hip gyration and the media enraptured by Jennifer Lopez's sultry pop debut, the English-speaking world suddenly discovered the man making Spain salivate â€“ Enrique Iglesias.
Latin music was storming the charts from the US to the UK; Latin dance albums featuring a host of spicy-hot stars were overwhelming international markets.
But fashions change, and despite a late charge from Colombian temptress Shakira, the Latin pop revolution moved on to other things.
Lopez joined the R&B/rap movement as J-Lo; Ricky Martin's bonbon stopped shaking; and Iglesias started his transformation from Latino superstar to universal pop star.
Five years on, the 28-year-old has just released his third English-language album â€“ 7 â€“ and is about to embark on a world tour that, for the first time, includes Australia.
The Latin music boom may be over, but Iglesias is far from finished and he has managed to transcend both a change in the musical landscape and the shadow cast by his famous father, Julio.
While his place as part of music's "it" crowd five years ago proved his career springboard into the English-speaking world, today Iglesias admits the boom may have been a little overstated.
"The bad thing was . . . it's a boom, you know, and you don't know how long it's going to last," he tells The Courier-Mail.
"I think, at the end of the day, it was just Latin artists doing great pop music and getting recognised.
"Honestly, I believe that it all comes down to a song and if you have a great song, you have the power."
If Iglesias's CV is anything to go by, the Spanish-born star has certainly had a taste of what it is like to generate the power he describes.
After hits like Bailamos, Be With You, Could I Have this Kiss Forever (a duet with Whitney Houston) and Hero, Iglesias has had the power to command spots at the top of the charts and album sales of more than 30 million worldwide.
With his chart success has come a cabinet full of music awards that include a Grammy; a deal with softdrink brand Pepsi; a legion of female fans and a girlfriend who is the stuff of fantasy for many a hot-blooded man.
All of which have helped the smouldering heart-throb establish himself as part of pop's A list, and as a tabloid magazine favourite. But for the man beneath the beanie, his greatest recent achievement has been co-writing all 13 tracks on 7, which was released in Australia late last year.
"7 is an album I've been doing for the last year or 18 months, and it talks mainly about what my life has been like in that time," he says.
"I've done a lot of writing on the road, which I wasn't really used to. Most of the songwriting I do in my house, but with this album, I wrote a lot of songs on the road.
"It wasn't easy at the beginning because I had to get used to it, so what I'd do is I'd set up small studios on the road, in the hotels, and work there."
After four Spanish albums and recordings in Portuguese and Italian, it may be tempting for Iglesias to rework some of his Spanish-language hits, but the star rejects that notion.
"I tend to believe that when a song was born in Spanish it is because it was meant to be sung in Spanish, and when it's born in English it's because it was meant to be sung in English," he says.
But whether in English or Spanish, one theme that rings true for the singer is love. His albums have been littered with tales of the heart, whether sexy, mournful or longing, and 7 is no exception.
The first single is the uncharacteristically dark Addicted, which explores the seductive power of attraction.
"You know what? At the end of the day 99 per cent of music has to do with love," he says.
"When you think about it, whether it's falling in or out of love, it's the one thing that everyone can relate to."
Gossip column watchers will be well aware that Iglesias certainly is no stranger to love; his current partner is the Russian tennis pin-up girl Anna Kournikova.
The two met when Kournikova starred in the video for his hit single Escape, and have been linked since they appeared at a music awards ceremony together.
Despite tabloid rumours of nightclub trysts with other women, the liaison has continued and Iglesias has been quick to defend his "on-off" girlfriend.
"I thought music critics were bad â€“ wow, sports writers are much worse," he says.
"Here you have this girl who came out of Russia when she was a little girl and got to No. 8 (in the international tennis rankings), but that's still not good enough.
"She is one of the smartest girls I have ever met and her career is far from over."
Despite being regarded by some as a "celebrity handbag" with all the trappings of a pop star lifestyle, Iglesias is adamant he's just a normal guy who hangs out with the same friends he's had since he arrived in Miami from Spain as an eight-year-old.
"It's funny, my life's not that much what I guess people would call a rock star life," he says, "like I go back home and I've got 30 chicks waiting in the pool with beach balls . . .
"I'm not (1980s pop star) David Lee Roth, although that would be kind of cool," he laughs.
But his normality extends only so far, and Iglesias admits a relationship with a high-profile partner has its drawbacks.
"It's got its good things and its bad things," he says.
"Its bad things are that people are going to be more interested in what you're doing and what you do and where you go and that can get a little hectic at times, but at the same time, I think when you have someone not in the same profession but under the spotlight, they understand a little more what you do and it makes things easier at times.
"But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to how you get along with a person, and it doesn't matter whether that person's famous or not."
While that is all he says about his famous girlfriend, he's even more reticent about his equally famous father, Latino singer and lover Julio Iglesias.
Enrique has always been reluctant to talk about his father, from whom he kept his dreams of pop stardom until he had secured a record deal.
In fact, according to Iglesias Jr, Iglesias Sr has not been to one of his concerts, and Enrique's annoyance at being tagged as Julio's son in the early days of his career is well known.
He still insists the pair do not talk business, and Enrique says he has never asked his father for advice.
"We don't really talk about that," he says.
But, whether he will admit it or not, Enrique, like his father, has a passion for music and has hopes the industry will afford him some of the longevity that has characterised his father's career.
"I do feel that I have a lot of music in me that I want to express and write about," he says.
"I still feel I haven't reached the climax of my career.
"You never know . . . It's hard to predict the future and I love what I do. I respect it so much and I feel so blessed and so lucky that I have the job that I have . . . Hopefully I can be doing this forever."
Enrique Iglesias will perform at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Friday, March 12. Tickets from Ticketek.
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