Enrique Iglesias is the guy who dated tennis siren Anna Kournikova for more than a decade. He sang “Bailamos” and told you to let the rhythm take you over. He fondled Jennifer Love Hewitt with wads of cash while asking, “Would you tremble if I touched your lips?” The sensual 38-year-old Spaniard knew exactly why we would buy his new album, lest we forget or get confused.
So let’s make it perfectly clear. “I wanted to be straightforward,” Iglesias enlightened the Daily Mail. “The title describes exactly what the album is about. From day one, I knew that I was going to call it Sex and Love.”
So that’s what it’s about.
Unfortunately—and this is a bit awkward—Sex and Love has nothing to say about sex and love. We don’t expect him to be Dr. Ruth, but still.
Iglesias’s 10th offering isn’t dripping with sex, like Beyoncé or R. Kelly’s Black Panties (the song “Marry the P**sy” generously uses the p-word 57 times). Instead, the album plays like uninspired background music destined for loud nightclubs and restaurants. That’s not to say that Sex and Love should aspire to be vulgar. But hell, a decent metaphor wouldn’t hurt. Perhaps something more creative than, “I love the way she gets so physical / Fucks like an animal.”
That not-so-subtle gem is from the inevitable banger, “I’m a Freak,” Iglesias’s stab at a “Blurred Lines”-like ode to booze and sexy ladies. The music video presents a fantasy frat party, where bouncy women hold Solo cups and perpetually fist-pump to the beat-beat-beat-beat-beat. “I’m addicted to your chemicals / I got a feast, I want an overdose,” Iglesias sings while half-kissing, half-sniffing the derriere of a lingerie clad redhead.
Unlike Iglesias’s 2010 hit “Tonight (I’m F**kin’ You),” with raw lyrics and an undeniably catchy synth dance beat, there’s nothing really here. “I’m a Freak” is peppy and tinny, and just annoying. It doesn’t sound like a fun time—it sounds like Aqua’s “Barbie Girl.” “From the hotel room to the DJ booth / On the bathroom sink, yes, I’m just a freak /And when the sun goes down, gotta let it out / Baby don’t blame me, / I’m-I’m just a freak!” Iglesias sings a pseudo mea culpa for Sex and Love: he can’t be held accountable for letting “it” out, for the heinous sex acts that will presumably defile the album.
If only! It turns out he isn’t much of a freak at all. “There Goes My Baby” a sort of jam song about getting dumped (“You got me spinning like a yo yo yo”), is filled with so much existential guitar twanging that you expect Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas to give Iglesias a hug. Meanwhile, “You and I,” “Heart Attack,” “Turn the Night Up,” “Beautiful” (featuring Kylie Minogue!) and “Only a Woman,” don’t really offer more insight than, “Only a woman can take away your cold hard chill / Break your heart and make you love her still.”
This album isn’t just generic dance music and love ballads—it’s generic dance music and love ballads in Spanish. Here we have “Bailando” (scorching), “El Perdedor” (simmering), “Loco” (smoldering), and “Me Cuesta Tanto Olvidarte” and “Noche y Dia” which are both en fuego in their own ways.
What happened to Enrique Iglesias? He was once the golden child, the son of a Latin music legend, a hip-shaker with more substance than Ricky Martin. It was only four years ago that Iglesias and Pitbull, the quintessential hype-man from hell, delivered “I Like It,” a smart pop-electronic song, unlike anything on the radio. Now that’s a song about sex and love—maybe it was good because you couldn’t even recognize that it was him, his voice was transfixingly over-processed. Today, all the duo can muster up is “Let Me Be Your Lover,” a dull ode to partying that lacks immortal words of Lionel Richie, “Party, Karamu, Fiesta, Forever.”
Iglesias told Ok! Magazine that he is never aroused when dancing on stage. It’s really a shame, because if he lets his inhibitions go, it may have added some much needed blood to the veins of Sex and Love.