Friday, April 5, 2013

Under the Influence of Springsteen: Enrique Iglesias

While preparing a previous post on “Sad Eyes”, I came across this cover by Enrique Iglesias. According to Wikipedia, Iglesias is a huge Springsteen fan and cites the Born in the U.S.A. tour as his favorite concert experience. So much a fan, that he included this cover of “Sad Eyes” in his English-language debut album in 2000 entitled Enrique. In fact, it was even released as the album’s fifth single and made it on the Billboard top 40 (although it was Iglesias’ least successful single).

The song’s release itself has an interesting backstory. While the album version wasn’t a huge hit, a HQ2 club mix proved more popular. David LaChapelle even directed a music video for the remix but purportedly the video wasn’t released due to its extreme sexual content. The video is now available on YouTube and depicts Iglesias’ obsession with a model he sees in a phone sex commercial while he’s on the road. After watching it, I can see why they didn’t release it. Not just because of the explicit content, it’s also pretty bad. It’s so extreme it really borders on parody. My favorite moments are 0:43, 3:05 and 3:16…

I must admit that I like Iglesias’ version; but not enough to defend it against anyone who finds it blasphemous. He doesn’t really offer anything new to the cover but I do feel like he channels the right amount of pain in his voice.

“Sad Eyes” position within pop culture is interesting. It was originally recorded in 1990 but wasn’t released until 1998 on Tracks. When the four-disc Tracks set proved a commercial disappointment, Columbia released an abbreviated version in 18 Tracks. This less expensive and less exhaustive version was designed to court the casual fan and was made up of the more pop-friendly songs on Tracks. “Sad Eyes” was released as the album’s first (and only) single in the summer of 1999. I personally have no recollection of the song’s performance when it was released and I wonder how much of its selection was attributed to Bruce and how much to Columbia Records. Either way, it seems to have struck a chord with certain aspects of pop culture, not only was it covered by Enrique Iglesias a mere two years after its release, it was even included in an episode of Dawson’s Creek (season 2 – 1999). The only clip from this episode that I could find online is dubbed in Italian. But you can still get the idea of what it’s like to see Bruce Springsteen’s soulful crooning over images of the lovelorn Pacey Witter. Fast forward to 2:00 minutes for the goods…

How do you feel about this Springsteen song being so entrenched in the pursuit of pop music success? Do you feel it negates its value? And if anyone remembers how “Sad Eyes” was perceived by the media or by fans at the time of its release, I’d be very interested to learn more.

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