Me and Julio

I began to change my mind about Julio Iglesias when, as a huge fan of Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso's 1994 Fina Estampa, it occurred to me that Veloso's resuscitation of Latin American ballads was a blatant borrowing of Julio's core strategy. Even more important than Iglesias's pop recontextualization of the troubadour is his guise as an unstoppable sex machine. "It's Julio's world; the rest of us only make love in it," insist Rolling Stone editor David Wild's liner notes for Mi Vida: Grandes Exitos (Sony), a two-CD retrospective. Once you get past the state-of-the-schlock arrangements, you realize that Julio is a consummate pussy-tease in the manner of, say, Bryan Ferry. With his understated, trilling tenor, Iglesias plays the loser at love and the incorrigible ravisher with equal relish, and that's a whole lot hotter than Big Pun.

Mi Vida reprises Julio's infamous duets with Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, and Dolly Parton, but hardcore fans will revel in the fluttery charm of "Milonga," "Me Va Me Va," and "Abrázame," and the leisure-suit erotica of "Hey." Julio's bizarre admiration for Ric Ocasek emerges in "Ni Te Tengo Ni Te Olvido," an undisguised mutation of the Cars' "Drive." If Iglesias's best tends to fade into the tinny soundtrack of a cheap affair, don't fret. As Wild tells it, and as I observed in his Radio City show last year, Julio's the kind of guy who doesn't just tell you to go out and get laid—his aim is to drive you to get your partner pregnant. Safely unsafe sex fantasies can't get any steamier than that.
 
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