In 1999, when Spanish-American singer Enrique Iglesias released his first full CD in English, thousands of young women rushed to grab the first copies. His track ‘Rhythm Divine’ was an instant hit. His hit duet with Whitney Houston and a Bruce Springsteen cover made women swoon and fall in love with the new sensation.
Enrique took the world by storm right after his song ‘Bailamos’ topped the charts. His smooth crossover from Spanish to the English-language market was unnoticed by few. The early 2000s were his golden years. His songs ‘Hero’, ‘Escape’, ‘Be With You’, and ‘Don’t Turn Off The Lights’ made him one of the most successful artists of his time.
Girls like me, in their teens, watched each video with stars in their eyes and swaying with every beat and tune. Enrique’s boyishly handsome looks made him an instant heartthrob of whoever laid their eyes on him. His unkept hair, Latino eyes, that charming smile, a lean body, and that dangerously low jeans made millions of hearts flutter across the globe.
But what made him different was his sensuousness-infused voice and the beautifully written lyrics. Enrique’s songs were primarily the quintessential love songs, of a hero and a heroine, a villain, and then a heartbreak. And although there was nothing special or different about his videos, yet he managed to capitalise on his albums as chartbusters.
Enrique gave birth to a new sexy by introducing Spanish sensuousness and raunchy into the English music industry. His not-so-muscular and broody on-screen presence brought a new idea of a ‘hero’ into the industry. He co-wrote most of his songs and unsurprisingly, all of them were top in charts.
Enrique’s talent of being able to wear so many hats in his career is a feat achieved by few. He’s a songwriter, actor, record producer, and philanthropist. Did you know he was also known as the King of Latin Pop? Being the son of a successful singer, Enrique had big shoes to fill even before he started his music career. After all, his father was recognised as the most commercially successful continental European singer in the world. There was that and that he was born with situs inversus, a rare congenital condition where some of the body's major organs, such as the heart, are situated on the opposite side of the body from normal. Enrique did not want his father’s name to help advance his career. So he adopted a stage name ‘Enrique Martinez’. He even recorded his first cassette with borrowed money.
But that was not all. He was a heartthrob alright but not just because of his husky, deep, orgasmic voice, but because the artist continued to deliver. Seven years after his first hits, when he released ‘Push’ with rapper Lil Wayne and a cover of ‘Tired of Being Sorry’, only God knows how many more women fell in love with him. And his ‘Somebody’s Me’ still makes my heart skip a beat.
In 2003, his ‘Addicted’ really did addict me to him for the rest of my life. That was also the year when he went on the biggest world tour ever. He played to sold-out stadiums, including India before ending the tour in South Africa. Your girl couldn’t attend the concert, because well Indian parents just won’t permit teen daughters to go watch concerts with friends.
In 2009, when Enrique released yet another hit ‘Taking Back My Love’, he really did arm the heartbrokens with a sense of power and control. Two years later, in 2011, ‘Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)’ became an all-time party hit. It still is.
It’s been over two decades since I, and countless many like me first heard this man. And there hasn’t been a single day since when I haven’t. If you’re still listening to any of these songs, mad respect for you.
Happy Birthday, you rockstar! Thank you for making my teen years so beautiful, Enrique. You will always be the first love of my life. Oh, he’s only turned 45!