Enrique Iglesias and Autotune: An Open Letter

Dear Mr. Enrique Iglesias, I understand the recorded music industry can be frustrating. You got major US distribution in the wake of Ricky Martin exploding with that amazing Grammy performance of "Cup of Life" half in Spanish, half in English. You were signed with a whole wave of Latin acts, most notably Marc Anthony, who was doing the same thing as you, only more polished and better promoted. You had the family connection, but he had the airplay.

I understand that this industry is not kind to aging singers. It's sad to say a soon-to-be 36 year old man is old in any context, but you might as well be pushing 80 for how the industry promotes older male solo artists. A new sound can be a feather in your cap and you've found one.

The problem is you're a bit long in the tooth to be doing the techno club-anthem. As with Jennifer Lopez, you are getting airplay because something (I blame The Jersey Shore) is making C-Rate Europop from eight years ago feel like a fresh American sound with the introduction of autotune. Avoid that. Please.

We know you can sing. True, you don't have the strongest voice in the business, but you perform with style and character and that's key for solo male pop superstardom. There's no cure for a bad case of the borings on the engineer's mixing board.

But this new autotune phase for you is a bad direction. This song, "Tonight I'm Loving You," would be a great club single for someone a good ten years younger than you. It's a solid track for this genre and I've even begun to perform it live on occasion. Not all music needs to be serious and this is just a fun song. But the autotune is not a good match for someone with your talent and experience. Bad singers need it to appear halfway competent, and good singers use it for style. This run at the end of the chorus could be sung by a four year old without the aid of the computer. This is not Cher turning into a robot during "Believe;" this is Britney Spears being covered for vocal flaws in "Toxic."

Mr. Iglesias, we want you to succeed. To do that, you're going to have to put on your big boy pants and leave the new toys to the kids. If you blindly jump on the autotune platform, what are you going to just jump to next? If country-crossover takes over the airwaves again, are you going to feign a southern accent and wear a cowboy hat? I doubt it.

Fad-jumping doesn't win fans so much as it wins airplay. Very rarely are the DJs announcing this is your single because it's too far removed from the pop you've done before. Put down the modified Naval technology and get back to singing for real.


Robert Gannon