Luis Miguel can do whatever he wants. With a catalog of hits like his, a string of platinum records, and an unstoppable Billboard presence, anything with Miguel's name on it is guaranteed a certain level of success. Such is certainly the case with his 2006 release, Navidades. This collection of yuletide favorites landed the number one spot in both the Latin Pop and Top Latin Albums categories on the Billboard charts. It was unquestionably the most popular Spanish-language Christmas record of the year, and its presence will probably linger for years to come. Knowing that Miguel can do whatever he wants without fearing failure or criticism, the important question that remains for Navidades is: why? Granted, Luis Miguel has always lingered in the borderlands that separate Latin and pop, favoring the sweet over the salty. Navidades does not linger, but crosses over completely, or perhaps more accurately, goes off the deep end. Artists like Harry Connick, Jr. and Michael Bublé can do a throwback big-band record successfully, because they're committed to it; it's what they do. Miguel's record, on the other hand, while technically perfect, with razor-sharp arrangements and production, has not a drop of class or elegance that comes with such commitment. The repertoire choices are more silly than playful and his performances hit overkill by the first chorus on virtually every track. Miguel in a cheap Santa suit brandishing a glass of whiskey and a cigarette between his lips may be more truthful advertising than the candlelight photo that actually adorns the cover. What made Luis Miguel fancy himself a jazz vocalist? The world may never know. Luckily for him, his stylistic insensitivity will probably go completely unnoticed, as there's an established history of bad Christmas records that sell incredibly well.
by Evan C. Gutierrez