One of the things that sticks out most about Enrique Iglesias’ career is its longevity: The Spanish artist, who kicked off his career in the mid-Nineties, has been cranking out hits for more than 25 years, gliding through the decades and keeping pace in the industry through different sounds: the rock balladry of “Experiencia Religiosa,” the dance-pop fervor of “Bailamos,” the reggaeton smash “El Perdon” featuring Nicky Jam. However, he threw his fans for a loop when he announced that his new album — his first in seven years — would be called Final. Immediately, people had one question: Would it actually be his last?
The short answer is yes. “It is!” Iglesias says during a phone call while heading to a concert rehearsal in Miami. He explains, however, that he’s splitting Final up into two volumes. The first part came out last Friday and features 11 songs that Iglesias recorded over the last few years, including several chart-toppers from 2018, like “Move to Miami” with Pitbull and “El Baño,” featuring a then-rising Bad Bunny. He’s working on the second part, but once it’s complete, he sees Final as his last full-length project. “It’s not a decision that I thought about a few weeks ago, a few months ago, or even a year ago. It’s a while back,” he says.
Still, it doesn’t mean an end to his music career. Below, Iglesias reflects on the past and shares how he’s thinking about making music in the future.
How does it feel to be making your last album?
I feel good. I feel good about it. I’ve been asked bunch of times, “Are you sure this is the right decision?” But this is how I felt in 2017, this is how I feel now. I wanted to release this album in 2017, and I just keep putting out singles. I was touring a lot and I didn’t have time to go to the studio, And the last year, I’ve had a lot of time to go to the studio and just work there by myself and to work with Carlos [Paucar] a lot and just go back and forth and finish up what I’ve needed to finish up for the last three years.
I think it’s the right thing to do. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing songs, but maybe [I’ll do things] differently. I look at this like, an album’s a book and each song is a chapter. But at the same time, you can also say a song can be part of that, too. Hopefully I can put out more chapters later on — and I still have to finish Vol. 2!
As someone who’s made music in both English and Spanish throughout his career, what do you think about the way music in Spanish has been embraced in recent years?
To be honest, I always felt that was going to happen. Back in 1999, they called it the “Latin explosion.” I would always laugh, and I used to think, “Man, here in the U.S., they call it the Latin explosion. Does that mean it’s going to go away?” But I knew it would never go away. It was going to come in different waves. At the time, there were massive artists crossing over to the English-speaking world, and you still see that today. But now Spanish is more accepted — not that it wasn’t back then, but I think the mainstream audience is more open to it. You’ve seen it in the past three years.
I could tell that was going on back in 2014 with “Bailando.” I put out two versions, in English and Spanish, and I remember being in the studio with a producer who did not speak a word of Spanish, and I played him the whole album. And when he heard that song, there was no English version yet, and he was like, “Oh shit. What is that?” When I did the video, in my mind, I was thinking, “Let’s see what happens.” I love both versions, but that’s where I could tell, “This is a movement that goes beyond language. Whether it’s in English or Spanish. There’s something about that beat, there’s something about this song. “That’s why I used to laugh and say, this is not an explosion. This is here to stay. This is not going to go away.
A cool thing for me musically was that I moved here when I was eight years old. It was mainly because my grandfather got kidnapped at the time, my parents had gotten divorced — it was pretty tumultuous. Moving to the U.S., especially Miami, was a radical change, but musically, I remember growing up with Top 40 music, with Latin music, and then going back to Europe in the summers, it was such a mix. A lot of people wonder why I write in English and not in Spanish, and I’m like, “Dude, I grew up in Miami. I’ve never spoken perfect English and I’ve ever spoken perfect Spanish, but I feel comfortable in both and I’ve always written in both.”
You’ve always explored reggaeton and urbano, and here, you feature Myke Towers and Bad Bunny. How have you been inspired by what’s happening in reggaeton today?
I think urbano music has been at the forefront and that’s what’s kept Latin music, in many ways, so massive. These artists have been so good at it, and they’ve been putting out incredible music. I’ve been fortunate to work with so many of them, and I personally started doing this with Wisin Y Yandel back in 2008. It was a little bit of an experiment, but that’s when I realized, “I have to get in the studio with people that come from different musical genres, and I need to get out of my comfort zone and see what happens.” I remember being in the studio with them, and at some point, it really hit me, and I was like, “I get this.” And that’s when I started doing more collaborations, because that’s the only way I saw my music evolving. And still, being able to do something that’s more pop, something that’s more urban, that’s what’s kept me spiritually and what’s kept me alive in terms of my enthusiasm for music. I like being uncomfortable In the studio. Take me somewhere else and let’s try everything.
Over the last few years, there’s been a discussion about the place of artists from Spain in Latin pop. What’s your view of that conversation?
I know there’s been a bit of a debate, but I think it all comes down to, you cannot fool the fans. They know if there’s a collaboration that makes sense or feels forced. Generally, it comes down to the song and the artist. Whether the artist comes more from a pop genre or an urban genre … I’m sure going back to 2008, people said, “Well, Wisin Y Yandel and Enrique Iglesias, that doesn’t make sense.” But the song made sense, and the fans reacted the way that I reacted. Having said that, through the years, it’s always a gamble — putting out music is a gamble, period. If people like it, great. And if people don’t like it, you have to move on. You accept it and you cry for a few days, and you go at it again. For me, collaborations through the years have been essential and they’ve given me strength.
You are co-headlining a tour with Ricky Martin. How does it feel to get back on tour after such a crazy year, and how does it feel to headline with Ricky, especially when there’s so much shared history in Spanish-language pop between the two of you?
The tour with Ricky is going to be awesome and it’s going to be interesting. He comes from a different musical style, and I think the fans are going to enjoy that. We wanted a once-in-a-life-time moment. And the chemistry is there. I’ve known Ricky for so many years and I respect him so much, and we also have Sebastian Yatra, who has that energy and a great attitude and great music. If you want to see a show, you want to see different styles of music and this tour is going to be able to satisfy a lot of people musically. We’re clearly not the same and that’s what’s going to make it cool. You’re going to get these two shows together and enjoy music in Spanish and English and crossover hits. It’s going to be a little bit of everything.