Latino crooner Enrique Iglesias muses about Sex and Love, Anna Kournikova, and the rumours about his manhood, writes Stephen Milton
Published 21/02/2014 | 14:30
Over a decade ago, the entire planet was putty in the hands of one Enrique Iglesias. He sweetly warbled how he could be our Hero, whilst engaging in some rather genteel, sensuous petting with Jennifer Love Hewitt.
The brown eyes twinkled, the mole was still in place. We were all enamoured.
Fast forward 10 years, the Latino love god was grinding against a set of speakers, announcing that Tonight, I'm F**king You. A slight graduation, you might say.
"When I write, I want to be able to go all over the place. I want to be able to leave my comfort zone. I don't over think it, I really go by my gut and my instinct and what I like.
"But if you told me 10 years ago that I'd be singing a song called, Tonight I'm F**king You, I would never have believed you. I would have said you're crazy."
It's a cheesy slice of condensed pop, with a healthy dose of explicit spice that no other artist would get away with. Bieber, Beyoncé, Britney; pure consternation if they uttered the same words with such abandon. Miley was practically voted off the planet for simply bending over. Repeatedly.
And yet, Enrique barely offends. Even when he pulls a lust-fuelled fan on stage for his signature spot of amorous over-the-clothes action, brand Iglesias remains relatively untarnished.
Although, surely long time love of 13 years, Anna Kournikova, must feel somewhat miffed at his antics?
"She's cool. She supports me one hundred per cent. I have the best girlfriend.
"Anna's so secure [about] where she's at, and our relationship, I don't think that would matter. But things happen, I'm not saying we're always going to be together, we even talk about that. You never know. And relationships go through their ups and downs. But all I can tell you, she is one hundred per cent supportive."
The singer gives a wry smirk and casts his head low, peak of his baseball cap shielding his eyes. Enrique has a charming knack of landing his foot right in the mouth but the dimples and twinkly browns have some kind of blinding, Men in Black amnesia effect.
It's also utilised to great outcome after he keeps Day & Night waiting for nearly an hour and a half in a suite in the Langham Hotel (yes, first world problems).
I can hear him keenly babbling away in the next room, a bilingual mélange.
Armed with an impatient belligerence, I'm finally awarded my time, intent on eking out revenge for the partial loss of a Friday evening.
Much taller than expected, he's frightfully casual in a grey cardigan, jeans and said worn baseball cap, emblazoned 'Atlantico'.
The profuse apologies spill. He's armed with his own weapon; a Miami- Mediterranean charm offensive, all caramel tan and relaxed vowels inherited from Papa Julio.
I ask of the conception of the new album, his tenth (!), and the name Sex and Love. The belligerence has dissipated.
"Sex and love are so dominant in music and it's the one thing that we can all relate to, no matter what religion, what nationality, what colour," he explains. "Two elements that are very important in our lives.
"When I listen to the album, there are songs about sex and songs about love, and songs about sex and love, together. So it's pretty simple."
Several singles have already been released in the US and Latin American markets to positive aplomb; Heart Attack, Loco, Turn the Night Up.
Lead single championing this, this side of the pond, I'm a Freak, is a snappy, simple slice which one guesses adheres to the 'sex' side of the album. "Songs like I'm a Freak, Heart Attack, I feel excited when we're working on them. And ultimately, that's the priority. It's how you own it and how you believe it when you sing it."
Are you enthusiastic about the album? "You have to be because you're going to have to sing it a million times and if you don't love it, you might as well stay home."
There's collaborations of course. His stalwart Pitbull takes his pound of flesh on several tracks (although many still fail to understand this man's 'musical' appeal).
And after making magic with Nicole Scherzinger, Ciara and Pavarotti (who knew), the 37-year-old sings for the first time with Kylie Minogue on forthcoming single, Beautiful.
"I'm a huge fan. She's so sweet and she's been going for a long time but is as sexy as ever. But collaborations are always scary, you never know. And imagine you do one with Kylie Minogue, who's a living icon and actually, it doesn't work. That's some awkward stuff right there."
Iglesias emerged – from the shadow of his legendary To All The Girls I've Loved Before singing father – at the turn of the millennium in the Latin explosion alongside Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin and Shakira.
He endures as arguably the most relevant artist, accumulating over 100 million sales of albums including Escape and Insomniac, with near 70 different number one rankings on the Billboard charts (13 of these on the Billboard Dance Charts, more than any male before him).
And to think, there was a time when the fiery Latin trend was dismissed as a fad. "It was strange to almost group us altogether in that way, considering how different we were from the other."
Following a string of sell-out concerts in Dublin and Belfast over the years, Irish fans will hopefully get the chance to be up close with the heartthrob when he tours Sex and Love internationally in November.
"I don't know what it is, the family thing maybe, it's very Spanish, but some of the best concerts of my career, I've done in Ireland. The music, the atmosphere. People are so nice, everybody is already extremely nice.
"Although I'm sure you're going to say, 'You've obviously never gone out and seen some of the drunk fellows on the street'."
That's a fair point, but I restrain myself from bursting his bubble. Ignorance being bliss et al.
His publicist gives the nod for a last question, so I have to ask something that intrigues. He announced it live in concert in 2011 and he's guilty of bringing up the, eh, subject again last month when he confessed, 'My worst defect is from my waist down.'
Just why does Enrique keep publicly paying homage to his member, which, as he puts it, 'is the smallest in the world.'
Booze can't be the culprit for these admissions, he's teetotal. Is it part of some bizarre publicity stunt that no one quite gets yet?
"No, it's not," Iglesias smiles, proud of his revelations. "Of course, there are journalists who take it completely out of context. I don't think I even said it directly like that. It's funny, I don't really give a shit."
But he has said it directly, several times. It's got to be part of some Shia LeBoeuf-esque performance art joke?
"It's not and I've been asked that all the time. 'Is it true you have a small penis?' And I say, 'What do you consider small?'"
The singer takes a sip of water, glancing over my shoulder as he smirks. He's so in on the joke.
Sex and Love is released on March 14
Day & Night