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The Malay Mail

Marc Anthony, The Mature Latin Lover

By Terrina Hussein

August 6, 2002
Copyright © 2002 New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad. All rights reserved.

IT all started with Julio Iglesias. Then his son, Enrique, took over the family business, and, of course, Ricky Martin kept the flame burning. Now, we have the more mature next best thing, Marc Anthony.

There's a sensual, sexy smoothness that links all Spanish, Salsa, Latin music, that the world just can't seem to get enough of.

The female population of the world were wishing they were one of those girls he's loved before, back when the commercial music world first got a taste of sensual crooner, Julio.

Then the ground shook all around the globe as the world lived la vida loca along with the hip-gyrating, but shaking Ricky.

We had a taste of history repeating itself when we got another shot of that Iglesias gene pool with the sultry, passion-filled (though vocally restrictive) Enrique Iglesias.

And when the Latin music genre looked like it was going to be dominated by estrogen-filled, sex-selling chiselled bodies, it took Marc Anthony to save it from the depths of mainstream pop despair.

Along came his impressive self-titled debut in 1999. The first single off Marc Anthony, I Need To Know, shot a then unknown in the English music scene to the top of the US Billboard charts and his succession of later hits have kept him there until today.

And now, we have his long-awaited second English album, Mended, released earlier this year.

Though this is only his second English release, it's his fifth studio album, including three Spanish albums, Contra La Corriente, Todo A Su Tiempo and Libre.

So what makes this Latin singer any different than the other Latin singers that have come before him?

The difference is that Marc Anthony is mature enough (being 32) to deliver his material and performances with a little style and sophistication, instead of all-out, gratuitous, sell your sexuality.

He's shown that Latin music should be judged on more than just a cute smile, bedroom eyes, a washboard stomach, and how quickly you shake your hips to the beat.

Marc Anthony brings back smooth and sensual vocals to the Latin music scene, where Latin music was quickly becoming the perfect advertising campaign for image making and young heart breakings.

Goodbye bubble-gum, prepubescent, hormone-charged, screaming teens type pop dance songs, hello blatantly romantic, sensuality-filled ballads.

Marc Anthony's career started at an early stage, growing up in New York and listening to rock, rhythm and blues.

Ironically enough, Anthony began his singing career singing dance songs and collaborating with house music DJs on club tracks.

That lasted a while, with one club track he did, produced by renowned house DJ, Little Louie Vega, called Rebel, becoming a hit on the dance floors.

It was the funky, traditionally blended modern collaboration of house music and Latin that led to infamous Latin percussionist, Tito Puente asking Little Louie Vega and Anthony if they wanted to open his Madison Square Garden show in 1992.

One year later, after recording a Salsa cover of Juan Gabriel's song, Until I Met You, Marc Anthony's career began to take shape. His Latin career, that is.

He appeared on Radio Y Musica, a Latin music convention, and in borrowed clothes, performed in front of a crowd full of radio DJs and sceptic music critics.

Did he impress them?

Well, let's let the standing ovation he received speak for itself.

Before he knew it, Marc Anthony was wanted. He was booked on a whirlwind tour of television appearances and live shows in Panama, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Miami and Los Angeles.

"That changed my life forever," he said of the experience. "I mean in one day, it seemed like years before I was ever in New York again. I woke up once in the middle of the night in a hotel and I didn't know where I was. I called my brother's room and said, `where are we?

"All I could see was a city at night - Tokyo. I thought how did this happen?"

Marc Anthony broke him into the English music scene, where it debuted at the No. 8 spot on the Billboard 200 Album charts and was certified platinum six weeks later.

To date, his debut album has sold over two million copies in the US, and has just been certified triple platinum by RIAA.

I Need To Know, the first single off Marc Anthony, was certified gold, spending 11 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 top 10, also earning him a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1999. You Sang To Me, the second single from the album, reached Billboard's Adult Contemporary Charts No. 1 spot and received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance in 2000.

He is now the world's top selling Salsa singer, and one of the top earners and sellers in the Latin (English) music field.

With a total of 12 Latin, gold and platinum RIAA certifications, for both his mainstream and Latin releases, it's safe to say Marc Anthony's latest release, Mended, should retain the same smooth and sensual formula of his debut English release.

The first single off Mended, I Need You, has already entered the top five on the US charts, and though there are his signature ballads, this album is a little more funked up than the previous one.

Where in Marc Anthony, he pours his heart out with soul-wrenching lyrics and heart-tugging ballads, imploring you to fall in love, break up, fall in lust, then fall in love all over again, Mended is a slightly more upbeat, not as romantically sensual inclined look at falling in love, breaking up, falling in lust, etc.

It is still all about love of some kind, but you can sense a touch of let's-just-see-what-we-can-do-here experimentation, but not so much that it takes away from what fans would expect.

Tragedy, track five, co-written by Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, is worth a listen to, with its rough rock edge and sultry Latin overtones. It's a clever mix, sounding a little gospel, a little rhythm and blues.

We, of course, have our essential ballad offering with tracks two, She Mends Me, track four, I Need You, six, I Reach For You, nine, Do You Believe In Loneliness, 11, I Wanna Be Free, 12, Everything You Do, and 14, Show Me The Way.

Track three, I've Got You and its Spanish counterpart, track 13, Te Tengo Aqui, and track five, Tragedy, lend the rock feel, while the remainder of the album is a reminder of Marc Anthony's earlier Latin dance-pop days.

This album is one for the fans, and one for those who just want good mainstream Latin quality music (but don't quite understand the fuss over Ricky or Enrique).

*Mended is available under Sony Music at all leading music stores.

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