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Pop Music Review

Chayanne's Charisma Gets Buried in Sanitized Latin Pop

May 25, 1999|ERNESTO LECHNER

You really have to hand it to Chayanne--the Puerto Rican pop star certainly knows how to awaken fervent desire in the hearts of his shrieking female fans. A wave of his gray satin shirt to reveal a perfectly sculpted stomach. A gaze at the throng from atop a high platform. A dance with one lucky lady. A contest to win his bottle of drinking water.

That sort of thing kept things lively at the Universal Amphitheatre on Sunday. In the musical department, however, things weren't so peachy. Though he's a talented singer, dancer and actor (he was the best thing about the 1998 movie "Dance With Me"), Chayanne drowns his considerable talents and undeniable charisma in strictly by-the-numbers, sanitized Latin pop.

Although his elaborate stage production looked and sounded like a million bucks, there was nothing memorable about the songs themselves. His alleged take on Afro-Cuban stylings (as in the hyper-kinetic "Guajira") was as far from authentic Puerto Rican music as something you'd find in a Las Vegas lounge.

The show offered only one glimpse of Chayanne's potential for pop grandeur. His assured performance of "Tiempo de Vals" (Waltz Tempo) was a showstopper. True to its title, this sumptuous pop gem takes a waltz rhythm as a starting point and enriches it with a fascinating melody. If only he could get 20 more songs like that one.

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