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Latin pop: A new international music language

Bruno del Granado takes a look at the year in Latin pop
Windows Media 28K 80K

Web posted on:
Friday, October 22, 1999 5:13:43 PM EST

From Bruno del Granado
CNN WorldBeat Correspondent

(CNN) -- Among other music trends, 1999 may be remembered as the year that musicians with Latin roots charged onto the international pop stage. Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera are of Hispanic descent, but neither has ever released Spanish-language songs. This year, both have found success with albums aimed at the bubble-gum crowd.

While those young women's Latin connections may owe more to smart marketing than their musical heritage, other pop musicians -- most notably Enrique Iglesias (son of Julio) and Ricky Martin -- have won audiences with first-time English releases that follow years of Spanish-language popularity.

Martin, of course, saw his self-titled English-language debut, including the single "Living la Vida Loca," catapult him to teeny-bopper fame and a performance on the 1999 Grammy Awards show. He'd plugged away for years in his native tongue -- he's from Puerto Rico -- releasing several Spanish-language albums but never breaking through in the United States market.

For Iglesias, it was a Spanish-language single, "Bailamos," that opened the way for his immensely successful debut album of the same title in English.

"You don't need English," says Iglesias. "It's great that's what got me here (but) it's not really about the single, it's about what I have accomplished in the last three years in Spanish.

"A lot of people say, 'Wow! If he accomplished this in Spanish, could you imagine if he sang in English?' But that's what got me here, my Spanish music."

Mixing it up

As this eclectic group proves, the Latin cocktail has many different flavors -- Lou Bega, Carlos Santana and the Buena Vista Social Club are among performers who haven't been hurt at all by the Latin revolution.

Santana's a native of Mexico, whose group is topping the U.S. music charts with the June release, "Supernatural." It's the first chart-capper for his group since their music last resonated strongly with fans in 1971.

"We connected with hip-hoppers," Santana says, "we connected with middle white America, we connected with Latin America, Africa, Asia, Australia. It's like the Champs-Elysées in Paris: This CD is connected to all the streets. This is the serious 'la vida loca' CD here."

Did somebody say Iglesias?
October 5, 1999
Jennifer Lopez poses a triple threat
June 8, 1999
Ricky Martin leading the Latin (music) revolution
May 17, 1999
The other Iglesias is making a name for himself
October 30, 1998

RCA Records: Christina Aguilera
Official Enrique Iglesias site
Official Jennifer Lopez site
Official Ricky Martin site
Official Santana site
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