Miguel Sticks to His Mexican Balladeer Roots

** 1/2


“Amarte Es un Placer”

WEA Latina

Mexico’s favorite heartthrob has opted not to follow most of his illustrious colleagues in the mad dash for “crossover” recognition. Instead of an English-language pop effort, the suave star’s new album is sung entirely in Spanish and follows the sonic path forged by his last three bolero albums, this time with original material, some by Miguel himself.

This decision speaks volumes about Miguel’s sense of perspective, proving that world domination is not necessarily every young man’s cup of tea. This is a performer who is already a superstar all over Latin America. How many million dollars does one really need to earn in a lifetime?

On the artistic side, though, this guaranteed blockbuster continues Latin pop’s disheartening search for the glossiest production imaginable. One can only wonder what record makers are willing to sacrifice in the name of an impeccable sound. Every year the violins feel more pristine, the percussion more crackling, the voice more isolated from the instrumentals. As a result, the overall warmth of the song is increasingly compromised.


Miguel’s forte has always been the ballad drenched in orchestral accompaniment, and the musical collaboration of composer Armando Manzanero certainly helps things here--his three original songs are the pick of the litter. But Miguel’s cheerful, upbeat numbers, such as the initial single “Sol, Arena y Mar,” lack the sophistication that defines most pop today. Maybe he should try recording an album with a sparse backup, something like a guitar-bass-drums trio, to escape the weight of his bloated productions.


Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.