Latin Pop King Enrique Iglesias Claims His Throne
When it was first announced that two of the most iconic and quintessential Latin pop performers would be joining each other for a North American co-headlining tour in 2020, hordes of people lost their minds.
“In the year of our Lord 2020, Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias are going to be on tour TOGETHER,” one user tweeted on March 10, 2020.
Another said, “This is not a drill!!”
Then another tweeter simply put siren emojis and the date of the announcement on March 4.
“It was the biggest, fastest onsale we’ve ever had, and we were rifling through tickets faster than we’ve ever seen,” recalled Darryl Eaton, co-head of contemporary music at Creative Artists Agency.
Roberto Panucci / Corbis / Getty Images – Enrique Iglesias,
whose co-headlining tour with Ricky Martin and opener Sebastian Yatra kicks off on Sept. 25 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and runs through November. Here, he performs on May 5, 2019 in Rome.
However, few predicted the global catastrophe that ensued a week later, when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
“It was like a freight train that just had the emergency brake pulled,” Eaton exclaimed.
“There was no guidebook created for the live industry on how to handle a complete pause on shows,” echoed Hans Schafer, senior vice president of Live Nation Latin Touring. “Luckily in 2021, we’ve seen great progress in the creation and rollout of multiple vaccines that are now allowing us to safely get back together and celebrate and enjoy live music again.
A year and a half later, as the planet is slowly resuming normalcy, people are ready to attend live performances again.
Pollstar spoke with global superstar Iglesias, 46, who revealed his own eagerness to return to touring.
“The happiest place for me to be is on stage,” confessed Iglesias. “While I always joke about how all the promo is the hard work, touring, however, is not work for me. It’s all about the interaction with the fans, and I always do my best for people to really enjoy themselves and have a great time. That’s the best thing that can happen and what I’d be working hard to make happen.”
Indeed, the “Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin Live In Concert Tour,” supported by Colombian star Sebastian Yatra, will be an incredible night of music to behold – and a co-headlining first for the duo.
“This is going to be one of the most ambitious productions that Enrique has ever ventured on. It’s going to be big, and people are going to get more of a show than they’ve ever seen from him before,” declared Eaton, who has been Iglesias’ agent for 20 years. “It’s not just two artists playing their individual shows, but a coming together of sorts.”
Kicking off with a sold-out show at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 25, the tour will span across 24 major U.S. cities and two others in Canada, making stops at venues including New York’s Madison Square Garden and Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, before wrapping up at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Nov. 20.
Gerardo Mora / Getty Images – Go Grande Or Go home:
Enrique Iglesias’s live shows are known for innovative and spectacular production, seen here performing at the Amway Center on Nov. 14, 2017, in Orlando, Florida.
“Organizing and coordinating a tour of this magnitude is no easy feat, but it has been a dream in the making for both [Live Nation SVP Touring] Brad Wavra and I in so many ways,” mused Schafer. “We cannot wait to bring this dream to their fans across the U.S. this fall.”
According to Pollstar Boxoffice reports, Iglesias has grossed $215 million to date, with a staggering average gross of $1.15 million per report over the last three years.
Live Nation’s Schafer and Wavra, who have both promoted Iglesias since 2013, are promoting the highly anticipated tour. The powerhouse booking pair are known for putting on some of pop and Latin music’s most historic events, such as Romeo Santos’ sold-out 2019 Utopia concert at MetLife Stadium, which moved 60,000 tickets and grossed $9 million, and Los Bukis’ recent 25th anniversary reunion tour. They also signed Jennifer Lopez to their roster after she performed at the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show.
PICOT / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images – We Are Familia:
Enrique, age 5, (left) on holiday in La Palma, Spain, with his father Julio Iglesias and siblings Isabella and Julio Jr. on Aug. 11, 1980.
Enrique Iglesias is fresh off releasing his first album in seven years, Final (Vol. 1), via Sony on September 17. It’s an exhilarating offering that highlights the many shades of modern Latin pop, from the gorgeous reggaeton balladry of “Te Fuistes” to the whirling EDM-pop number “All About You,” a bilingual record that reaffirms Iglesias’ universal appeal. The record also contains older singles, including the alluring reggaeton hit of “El Perdón” starring Nicky Jam, and the dancefloor banger “Súbeme La Radio” featuring Descemer Bueno and Zion & Lennox, thus guaranteeing a 2021 showcase packed with hit after hit after hit, from timeless classics to recent chart-toppers.
“This album has been a long time in the making. There is no specific objective, other than trying to, as I’ve always done, create music that my fans will like,” said Iglesias.
The album, Iglesias’ 11th studio record, also features Bad Bunny, Myke Towers, Farruko, Pitbull, and more. While collaborations in Latin pop today are the norm for any performer maintaining cultural relevance, Iglesias was one of the first singers to join forces with reggaetoneros back when the Puerto Rican genre experienced its first global boom in the 2000s.
“Nowadays, it’s rare to find a song that doesn’t feature a bunch of collaborations,” says Red Light Management’s Fernando Giaccardi, who represents Iglesias. “Back in the day, nobody was really doing that, and Enrique did a song with Wisin and Yandel 13 years ago. It was a massive hit.”
The song, a remix of 2008’s “Lloro Por Ti,” peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart.
Born on May 8, 1975 to legendary Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias and Filipina socialite Isabel Preysler, Enrique Iglesias grew up in a unique musical environment. His father is one of the most commercially successful singers in the world, having sold over 100 million records in 14 different languages. Yet, the younger Iglesias achieved musical success on his own terms, without informing his parents of his plan to pursue a musical career or associating his surname publicly with his father’s. His success early on didn’t come easy.
“This career requires a lot of dedication, time and effort. Nothing comes for granted, no matter who you are, or where you come from. It always needs a lot of work,” said Iglesias, reflecting on his 26-year career. “Be consistent and perseverant.”
His creative nose-to-the-grindstone approach has served him well. In 1995, the world was introduced to Iglesias with his eponymous debut, an album with timeless hits “Si Tú Te Vas” and “Experiencia Religiosa,” songs that continue to sound as vibrant as ever.
“Moments before Enrique blew up globally, he had become a superstar in Mexico first,” recalled Giaccardi, who has been with the Spanish star since the beginning of his career.
Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images / Red Light Management – Manager Talk:
Enrique Iglesias’ manager Fernando Giaccardi of Red Light Management, (right), who began working with Iglesias at Fonovisa Records in the mid-’90s. Here at Red Light 2016 Grammy afterparty with Red Light’s Bruce Eskowitz on Feb. 15, 2016 in Los Angeles.
Giaccardi worked at Iglesias’ first label home, Fonovisa Records, and when the musician left Fonovisa for Interscope and Universal in 1999, he took Giaccardi with him, eventually naming Giaccardi his manager.
Iglesias’ fourth album and first for Interscope, 1999’s Enrique, featured “Bailamos,” a massive Latin pop smasher that not only landed at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, but two decades later has more than 78 million streams on Spotify alone. The song also helped catapult the so-called Latin pop explosion of the late ‘90s, in conjunction with Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” Marc Anthony’s “I Need to Know,” Carlos Santana’s “María, María” and Jennifer Lopez’s “My Love Don’t Cost A Thing.”
“Of course I am very happy that finally it is not about the ‘Latin’ explosion, or just a few hit songs,” reflected Iglesias. “It took a lot of years for Latin music to break down the barriers and get to the level of notoriety it is today.”
Besides helping lead Latin pop to global prominence at the cusp of the millennium, the Spanish artist is also one of his generation’s most respected songwriters.
“There are two massive songs that Enrique has recorded, one with Marco Antonio Solis called ‘El Perdedor’ and the other with Juan Luis Guerra called ‘Cuando Me Enamoro.’ You are not going to find them singing a song they did not write,” Giaccardi pointed out about two of Latin America’s most respected songwriters.
“One day I called Marco Antonio Solis and said ‘Marco, we have this amazing song, and we think it would be great with you on it’,” Giaccardi continued. “He replied saying, ‘I really don’t do songs that I don’t write.’ Thirty minutes later, he calls back and says, ‘Can you send me the song anyway so I can listen?’ ‘Sure!’ The next day he called and said ‘I’m recording it today.’ He’s not a songwriter in the song nor asked for the credit. And ‘El Perdedor’ went on to become the theme song of a very famous Mexican novela [‘Lo Que La Vida Me Robó’]. That’s proof [of skill], when you have a massive songwriter come and sing a song that you wrote.”
Kevin Winter / Getty Images – Tres Amigos:
Enrique Iglesias, Sebastián Yatra and Ricky Martin, whose tour kicks off this month, at Penthouse at the London West Hollywood on March 4, 2020 in West Hollywood.
During the Mexican soap opera’s run from October 2013 to July 2014, Iglesias released another spectacular hit, the monumental 2014 number “Bailando,” which would change contemporary Latin pop for years to come. With its insatiable mix of forward-thinking Latin pop, Spanish flamenco, and Cubatón (or Cuban-flavored reggaetón), Iglesias propelled Spanish-language pop to the future. Featuring Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona, “Bailando” boasts the longest Hot Latin Songs No. 1 run at 41 weeks. Iglesias also released an English rendition, and later dropped two Portuguese versions of the song, aimed separately at Brazilian and Portuguese audiences and expanding the reach of the already-global hit.
A year after its April 2014 release, the “Bailando” music video became the first Spanish song to pass 1 billion YouTube views. In April, it hit 3 billion views, and today sits at 3.1 billion.
“It blows my mind to have ‘Bailando’ surpass 3 billion views! It’s almost 3.5 billion counting the English version… Ha!” Iglesias said. “I’m just blessed to have my fans and their support throughout the years. I do have to say that I remember perfectly when I got the first cut of this video. And I swear, I got goosebumps! Which rarely happens. Usually, you have to go through a lot of different cuts and edits, but with the first cut, I immediately knew that this one was special, which is true.”
“Bailando” arrived just before the peak of the digital streaming boom, when a song’s main method of promotion was targeted market by market and country by country. So, when platforms like Spotify reached an all-time peak in 2017, so did a song called “Despacito.”
“Luis Fonsi has openly declared that he doesn’t know what it would be of ‘Despacito’ if it wasn’t for ‘Bailando,’ recalled Giaccardi. “‘Despacito’ and other [more recent hit] songs have an advantage [because ‘Bailando’ paved the way].”
“Bailando” helped create a new Latin pop formula that mixes rootsy Latin acoustic instrumentation, electronic dance music flourishes, supreme studio quality, and a live performance sensibility — thus securing both IRL appeal and cyber engagement.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment. I don’t know how many songs have reached that level of saturation, ever. It’s tremendous,” said CAA’s Eaton. “It’s an anthem for so many people. It encapsulates the whole spirit of Enrique’s performances. When you hear that song, you see him – that kind of uplifting, party atmosphere anthem is very indicative of what you see in his live performances. It’s a whole spirit and vibe.”
To date, Iglesias has earned a staggering 27 No. 1s on the Latin Songs chart, solidifying his title as the King of Latin Pop.
“It’s very difficult to have a hit, it’s even more challenging to get a No. 1,” Giaccardi said. “But it’s 10 times more difficult to stay there. There are not a lot of artists that can say that nearly every single year, for 25 years, they have at least one No. 1 song.”
Europa Press / Europa Press / Getty Images – More Than Just A Song:
Enrique Iglesias receives global digital multi- platinum award for downloads & streaming of ‘Bailando’ on Nov. 13, 2014, in Barcelona. The smash hit is now up to some 3.5 billion streams and counting.
Iglesias’ fall touring partners, too, are sought-after Latin sensations.
“I’ve known Ricky Martin for many, many years, and now I’ve become friends with Sebastian as well, who I think is also very talented, and a great kid.” Iglesias said. “I’m just happy this tour is finally happening! I’m looking forward to hanging out with them and having a great time on the road with them.”
Martin’s also an impeccable performer who has brought his contagious Caribbean persuasion to mainstream masses for decades – which is why an Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin tour is like a celestial event with the stars aligning. That includes Yatra, whose star has only ascended since the tour’s lineup was announced a year and a half ago.
“Enrique Igelsias and Ricky Martin is a dream package,” said Live Nation’s Schafer. “Two of the biggest Latin pop icons sharing the stage together is going to make this an unforgettable tour after a much-anticipated wait. Both have been working together to design a show that fans will never forget. On top of that, the tour has Sebastian Yatra as a special guest. He has grown so much in such a short time and will undoubtedly be a force. Those who haven’t seen him perform yet are in for an extraordinary surprise. I’m personally a big fan and believed from the beginning he is the perfect artist to share the stage with two icons. In fact, I believe he is a future icon who is well on his way.”
As for Iglesias, he’s continued to be a force to be reckoned with for two and a half decades, helping lay the foundation for Latin pop revolutions in multiple eras.
“He doesn’t stop writing, he doesn’t stop trying to make a hit, he doesn’t stop trying to evolve,” Giaccardi said.
“The thing about him that always amazes me is he keeps coming with new songs, new moments for as long as he’s had a career,” Eaton added. “He has maintained complete cultural relevance with every record, and with every new song and he is on the pulse of what’s going on at any moment in time.”
Iglesias himself is most excited and proud not of his own accomplishments, but of the power, joy and widespread proliferation of the music.
“Latin music is now one of the most dominant forces in music,” he says, “I’m proud and happy to see it reach all the corners of the world.”