Bailamos

Album: Enrique (1999)
Charted: 4 1
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Songfacts®:

  • The word "Bailamos" is Spanish for "we dance," and that's what the song is about. Enrique Iglesias sings about hitting the dance floor and meeting a special lady.
  • Enrique is the son of the celebrated Spanish singer Julio Iglesias. He was born in Spain but moved to Miami when he was eight. His first three albums were in Spanish, released on the Fonovisa label. Those albums combined to sell 14 million copies, earning him a deal with the major label Interscope, which released "Bailamos" as his first single sung in English... mostly. The title is Spanish and Iglesias repeats the line "Te quiero amor mío," which means "I love you my love" (the translation isn't as elegant), but the rest of the lyric is English, as are most of the other songs on the Enrique album.

    Keep in mind that Ricky Martin had a huge hit earlier in 1999 with "Livin' La Vida Loca," which also has a Spanish title but is otherwise in English. Like "Vida Loca," "Bailamos" went to #1 in America, expanding Iglesias' fanbase far outside the Latin community. This was a time when a little Latin sabor could go a long way on the pop charts. Santana's megahit "Smooth," with Rob Thomas on vocals, includes the line, "My muñequita," a shout-out to his wife Marisol, who is Puerto Rican. Also that year, Latin pop stars Christina Aguilera ("Genie in a Bottle") and Jennifer Lopez ("If You Had My Love") had #1 hits, albeit entirely in English.
  • Iglesias writes many of his own songs, but "Bailamos" was written by two outside writers hired by Interscope to come up with a hit, Paul Barry and Mark Taylor, known for their work with Cher, including her hit "Believe." Taylor also produced the song along with another Cher associate, Brian Rawling. Taylor and Rawling saw Iglesias perform in Miami before writing the song.
  • Iglesias sings the title with the accent on the last syllable ("bai-la-MOS") but it's really pronounced with the accent on the second syllable ("bai-LA-mos"). That's because Paul Barry, who wrote the lyric, doesn't speak Spanish (he's British). He asked a Spanish speaker how to say "we dance" in Spanish, and thought they said it with the last syllable accented. Iglesias didn't try to change it because it fit the music. Fans thought he was just saying it with some flair.
  • "Bailamos" first appeared on the soundtrack to the Will Smith movie Wild Wild West, released in June 1999 a few weeks before the film. In August, it was released as the lead single from his album Enrique, which showed up in November. The song went to #1 in early September, a few weeks after the movie's title track hit the top spot.

    The song ended up in the film after Will Smith saw Iglesias perform and was blown away. He asked to use one of his songs in the movie, and Iglesias offered "Bailamos." Smith was the most bankable American movie star at the time, so Wild Wild West was a guaranteed a huge opening weekend. It did open to huge box office, but word quickly got out that it was terrible. By the time "Bailamos" hit #1, most people had forgotten about the movie.
  • Two different music videos were made for "Bailamos." The first, which shows Iglesias doing his thing at a classy (but very sweaty) club, was made by the French photographer Christophe Gstalder, who shot it in Miami. According to Gstalder, Enrique showed up five hours late because he was busy playing video games, then started drinking beer. The shoot was a toil that led Gstalder to dub the singer "Dickrique Iglesias."

    The other version ties into Wild Wild West, with Iglesias as an outlaw and scenes from the movie interspersed. Directed by Nigel Dick, it was shown in America to promote the movie. The version that ended up on Enrique's YouTube channel is the one Gstalder directed.
  • Iglesias followed up with the single "Rhythm Divine," also written by Paul Barry and Mark Taylor. It stalled at #32, but then "Be With You," which he wrote with Barry and Taylor, went to #1, keeping Iglesias on the air throughout the summer of 2000. The first single from his next album, Escape, was the ballad "Hero," a huge pop hit. After that, he started recording more Dance and Latin music, riding the wave as both genres took off. One of his biggest hits is the similarly titled "Bailando" (translation: "dancing").

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