In a world of relentless single releases, Alejandro Sanz waited four years before releasing a new studio album. Then he made a big deal about it by titling #ElDisco (The Album).
“I called it #ElDisco because it’s almost an endangered species,” laughed Sanz in a conversation with Billboard in March. “I don’t know what name the format will have in three or four years. I put the hashtag in there because it represents the now. The before is the album.”
#ElDisco is almost subversively now — subversively because in a Latin world dominated by reggaetón-based singles, it’s a pop album that relies heavily on traditional elements like string orchestras and achingly beautiful melodies.
“I’m worried because the way people listen to music has changed,” says Sanz. “It applies to everything: film, love. There’s no time to enjoy such things, to enjoy an album as it deserves. People are no longer interested in listening to music on a good sound system. But I plan to continue making albums that you can play on a good sound system. I have to do what I think I have to do.”
Produced by Sanz with Julio Reyes Copello and Alfonso Pérez, #ElDisco, released April 5, has 10 tracks, including two previously released singles with Camila Cabello ("Mi Persona Favorita") and Nicky Jam ("Back in the City"). “I wanted my essence to come through,” says Sanz. “Even such an eclectic album has to have a certain aesthetic. I wanted contemporary, but powerful, arrangements.”
Here is Sanz’s take on four of those contemporary, powerful tracks.
“El Trato” (The Deal): "It’s a sad song that leaves a window open. It has an apocalyptic or end-of-the-world element. If I have to die, let it be in a sandstorm in the desert and not by tripping and falling on a flower bed. That’s what it’s about: The romantic way of losing yourself to the inevitable."
"Mi Persona Favorita (My Favorite Person). feat. Camila Cabello: I wrote this for my young daughter, Alma, who’s four. Afterward, I asked Camila, “Who is your favorite person?” And she said, “My little sister.” Afterward, we did the video, which is an homage to love in all its breadth, diversity and enriching complexity.
"Yo No Tengo Nada" (I Have Nothing): I wanted to use simplicity to convey a profound message: The only thing we have is time and memories. You’ve bought nothing; you’ve only bought the use of time.
"Te Canté un Son" (I Sang You a Son): It’s an homage to all the cultures that have passed through me and have influenced me in some fashion. It’s an homage to Cuba, to Cadiz. It’s retaking that old bridge that connects these two twin cities.