The Romantic: Luis Miguel @ 50

With the help of iconic boleros, El Sol de Mexico became a legend the world over.

Image courtesy of Warner Latin. 

Luis Miguel is truly the model for the modern-day male Latin pop star. Romeo Santos, Prince Royce, Luis Fonsi, Maluma and anyone who’s crooned a romantic quip and been inundated with lingerie onstage is in debt to the original master of romance. This weekend, as LuisMi turns 50 on April 19, we honor his illustrious career and catalogue, which spans four decades.

By now you should know the story: Luis Miguel was a prodigy pushed by his failed musician father, Luisito Rey, into the limelight. Turbulent times and opportunists abounded, and Miguel’s early career was riddled with success but also torment. The songs he released as a child achieved Gold status, but his hits as a teen heartthrob (“Ahora Te Puedes Marchar”) made him a pop superstar. Bouncing around the world arm-in-arm with models and actresses — one could argue he laid the blueprint for Derek Jeter’s love life — boosted his playboy image.

As a direct response to tabloid fodder, he became increasingly private and decided to let his music speak for itself. Then he invented a genre, bolero pop. On 1991’s Romance he covered classic boleros by Tito Rodríguez, Roberto Cantoral and César Portillo de la Luz, spinning the tradition for a new generation who treated the songs as fresh discoveries and their singer as a god.

His subsequent albums — Segundo RomanceRomances and Mis Romances — garnered him more international acclaim and awards, including Grammys and Latin Grammys. The attraction was simple: Luis Miguel’s ballads were lush with emotion, desire and passion, and the ladies loved him. The adulation wasn’t lost on the rest of the world, or on other legends of the croon. He was one of the only Latin stars to ever record with Frank Sinatra — at the request of Ol’ Blue Eyes himself.

Needless to say, El Sol de Mexico (the Sun of Mexico), who has sold over 100 million records to date, is the premier bolero singer of his time. Anyone else is a distant second.


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