Back In The Day: Bailamos

This comes down the pike a few weeks too late to truly say that at this time ten years ago, but it would be a large disservice to my musical past to not mention this oldie but goodie.

In early September 1999, a third latin-influenced song topped the Hot 100, and was a first for its maker, staying at the peak of the chart for two weeks. "Bailamos" became Enrique Iglesias' (the son of Julio Iglesias and brother of Julio Iglesias, Jr.) breakthrough smash single and allowed him to sign a multi-album deal with Interscope Records here in the United States, and also cemented the year 1999 as the year of the latin pop crossover (considered a trifecta with previous number ones "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin and "If You Had My Love" by Jennifer Lopez). The song was released in conjunction with the film Wild Wild West starring Will Smith and appeared on the album's soundtrack. It stood out on the album's tracklisting as the only non-"urban" song.

"Bailamos" (which means "We Dance" or "Let's Dance" in Spanish) first appeared on a previous spanish album of Enrique's in 1998, but a version featuring all English lyrics (aside from the title and a line in the chorus: Te quiero amor mio, or I love/want you, my love) was released to pop radio in the US in 1999 and the results were somewhat immediate. The song was produced by the Rawling Brothers, who also produced Cher's monster hit "Believe". It's a perfect example of how many songs slowly build their way to success on the Hot 100, as the song first went to #1 on the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks Chart in July, then to #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play Chart in August, before going to #1 on the Hot 100 in September. The song also topped the charts in Spain and Israel. The song was the first of two English #1's for Enrique, the latter being "Be With You" the following year.

"Bailamos" is one of those songs that is very latin, but very mainstream pop at the same time. Not unlike "Livin' La Vida Loca" and "If You Had My Love", the song features classic latin guitar and a stomping beat. Enrique also sings with a very heavy Spanish-accent, thus accenting it's latin appeal. I vividly remember seeing the music video and falling in love with the song instantly, long before I ever started taking Spanish language classes. It's lyrics are somewhat stereotypical of a latin pop song -- mostly of conveying wanting and desire. However, no one can deny how effing catchy that chorus is. The video is also quite reflective of Enrique's visual style: lots of sexy posing and lots of sexy poses with sexy women.



Enrique continues to have an incredible amount of success, especially on the Latin Charts and in his home country of Spain. His 2001 single "Hero" also saw considerable success Stateside, landing him at #3 (and quite a bit of ribbing at the Video Music Awards by my dear Jimmy Fallon). The majority of his singles since have failed to make an impact on the Hot 100 until 2007's "Do You Know? (The Ping Pong Song)", which peaked just outside the Top 20.

His most recent single off of his Greatest Hits package, the RedOne produced "Takin' Back My Love", has failed to chart here, despite doing well in other countries, especially in France (the song was recently re-recorded with singer Tyssem with her portion in French). The song is a duet with a female counterpart, although many different versions exist depending on the country it was released in. Here in the States, a version with r&B performer Ciara was released, while for the majority of Europe it was performed with German singer Sarah Connor (who had a brush of success in the US back in 2003 with her single "Bounce"). An Australian cut also exists featuring soul singer Gabriella Cilmi.

1 comment

Paul said...

I remember vividly the first time I heard this and thinking "oh this will be my song of the summer" it was just so lovely and effortless. Not long after (for me anyway) he totally topped this with the gorgeous Could I Have This Kiss Forever duet with Whitney, which was one of my top songs of the year 2000...

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