Sometimes it is possible to change the world of music without ever aiming at or achieving crossover appeal. Along with Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine , Luis Miguel helped demonstrate to the current generation of Latin stars what was possible in both artistic and commercial ways. A romantic balladeer whose taste in classical bolero music is to the Spanish radio market what the later Michael Bublè has been to the English-language adult contemporary market, Luis Miguel has managed to rack up an impressive amount of Latin Grammy (4) and Grammy (5) award wins, gold and platinum albums, and Spanish-language radio hits all without any crossover hits whatsoever. Yet his ability to reach American stardom, to say nothing of his superstardom in Latin America and Europe, without crossover success gave a template for later generations of musicians who were able to enjoy massive popularity in the United States based on their ability to appeal to the Spanish-language market with romantic ballads for a sustained career, an important aspect of popularity for artists as diverse as Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, and even Nelly Furtado, some of whom on their own merits are worthy for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Yet at the same time, Luis Miguel, as a result of his absence of crossover success, except for those who are fond of romantic music in any language who have copies of his albums like “Romances” and “Amarte Es Un Placer” (To Love You Is A Pleasure) in their private music collections, is not the sort of artist who would be readily considered as a rock & roll icon. Sometimes when we examine the importance of music, even among those artists who are popular in the United States, there is the tendency to forget the larger context of the world and what music serves to influence others. Luis Miguel is an artist who once dated Mariah Carey and recorded a successful duet with Sheena Easton, “Me Gustas Tal Como Eres” when he was fourteen years old. He remains the only artist to have two platinum Spanish-language albums in the United States, a shocking record in this age of popular Spanish language music. He regularly wins awards and distinctions around the world for his music, meaning that even if his career has attracted the attention of international figures and many artists, he remains unknown to a wide variety of casual music fans whose tastes do not include Spanish-language music.
Why Luis Miguel Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Throughout his career, Luis Miguel has sold over 100 million albums, making him one of the biggest selling artists in the history of music . On the mainstream album charts, he has 3 platinum and three gold albums , besides numerous platinum and multi-platinum Latin albums. He regularly headlines record-breaking tours around the world, and is known as both an actor as well as a singer. On the Latin single charts, he has had sixteen #1 hits, and many more top ten hits. He has been a popular artist in Latin America since the 1980’s, giving him a career known for incredible longevity aside from his success. Given his sales and popularity and his iconic status within Latin American music, the only real question for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is whether to recognize him as a rock & roll artist in his own right, given his popularity in the Rock & Roll era, or to consider him an obvious influence on the course of contemporary pop and rock music by providing a model of success for other artists with similar backgrounds. Regardless of which option is chosen, though, Luis Miguel’s diverse career, including successful bolero, pop, and even mariachi albums makes him a clear choice for recognizing the importance of Spanish-language musicians in the course of contemporary pop music.
Why Luis Miguel Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Unfortunately, Luis Miguel, like some other notable artists, has had a successful career in a genre of music, Latin music, that is not well-regarded by music critics. Like dance music, few Latin music artists have achieved the recognition of being considered, much less inducted, into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Aside from Richie Valens, only Los Lobos has reached that level of critical appeal. Luis Miguel likely represents one of the first few artists whose career longevity and lasting success and influence on other musicians from this genre of music merits induction as a way of bringing a great deal of attention on the genre as a whole and bringing its most successful artists to the appreciation of a wider audience.
Verdict: Put him in. Fairly soon there will likely be enough worthy and eligible nominees to have an entire year of Latin music inductees. One might as well start with that backlog now.
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