The comeback of Luis Miguel
In a biographical series on Netflix, 13 episodes reveal details of singer Luis Miguel’s life that had remained a mystery (mainly, the disappearance of his mother more than 30 years ago).
They were concealed in a very (very) deep corner of memories, silent for almost 30 years.
You never listened to those songs ever again, you didn’t sing them anymore.
But, suddenly you are there in front of the computer, repeating them all, every lyric, every turn of their melodies. The 44-year-old adult you are now — who used to boast about being an exquisite music listener, who had overcome the ballads and the pop music of the teenage, post-adolescent phase — discovers herself playing all the Luis Miguel playlists on Spotify. Then you realize that he was as tenderly young as you, maybe a couple of years older, when he made you learn all those rancheras and boleros on the versions he interpreted in the early 90s with the musical arrangements of Armando Manzanero.
It was sufficient for you to watch "Luis Miguel, la serie" on Netflix to break down all the prejudice and start singing the tunes all over again.
You acknowledge the phenomenon of how such an online TV platform taps into the influence of the World Wide Web to resurrect your older emotional memory — or to convert a killer like Pablo Escobar into a media star in the fashion of Hollywood — and how this makes it possible for a comeback of an artist who had vanished from the public eye seven years ago, although he once was the most famous singer in the Ibero-American market.
You didn’t even know Luis Miguel had remained as silent as those songs in your brain. The man who sold more than 100 million records in the era of LPs and CDs — the first Latin American to receive a gold record in the U.S. for an album made in Spanish — had been sued for breach of contract for not showing up at performances. He had stopped giving interviews. "The Sun of México, LuisMi" had hidden.
And now he is back by the work and grace of Netflix.
Luis Miguel, 48, is currently touring in Spain. He held performances in Mexico City, the majority of them sold out (will repeat next fall), as well as in Texas, New York, California and Las Vegas. He recorded a new record, "¡México por siempre!," in November last year as a prelude to the series and perhaps a premonition of its success.
Yes, he is back. In the meantime, we spectators realize better why he was so private and why he had cultivated such an arrogant reputation.
“Luis Miguel is reborn after hitting the bottom,” Javier León Herrera of Spain, the author of the biography on which the series is based, told DPA. The singer authorized this book, "Luis My King, the Exciting Life of Luis Miguel", as well as the Netflix show.
The series just finished its first season on Sunday. It was 13 episodes that revealed those details of Luis Miguel’s life that had remained a mystery. In a rare fashion for a digital TV platform, the show developed slowly, just one episode a week (it was also aired on traditional Telemundo) like old telenovelas, with all the suspense kept until next episode.
But it tells a real, yet brutal, recount. The lives of younger Luis Miguel and his brothers were marked by domestic violence, carrying with them the burden of a tragedy: his mother’s disappearance, no trace to this day.
Luis Miguel Gallego Basteri was born in Puerto Rico in 1970 and was raised in Mexico. The show reveals how his father, Spanish musician Luisito Rey (who died in 1992) exploited his own son. As Luis Miguel’s manager, he drugged him when he was a child to enhance his performances and scammed him when he was an 18-year-old celebrity. Luis Miguel’s Italian mother, Marcela Basteri, who Luisito Rey also abused, disappeared in 1986. The last person to see Marcela alive was Rey. The guiding thread of the first season of the show is the vanishing of Marcela and the search for her, even with the help of the Mossad.
The series is a clear allegation of macho violence in tune with all of the current "No more!" movements against male abuse. Feminist Peruvian writer Gabriela Wiener states it lucidly on in an op-ed for The New York Times: “Suddenly, we care more for the biography of a celebrity because it is rooted in the same silence that has made male violence invisible, in one of the most dangerous continents [Latin America] to be a woman.”
Everyone is talking about Luis Miguel now, even himself — or his community manager — as a timid social media user.
The digital outlets review every episode as if it is all fiction. They report on what is new about Luis Miguel’s life. Every Sunday, the audience — curious and nostalgic viewers, as well as millennials who used to watch the show with their parents — gathered under the Twitter and Instagram hashtag #LuisMiguellaserie. They have made Luisito Rey Mexico’s public enemy number one. The last episode of first season didn’t disclose it all about Marcela. Some loose ends were left for next season.
— Cristhian Lopez (@thianlopezz) July 16, 2018
— Victor Manuel (@vgalind1) 17 de julio de 2018
Marketing also seizes the opportunity. In Ciudad Juarez in northern Mexico, an artisanal piñata company created piñatas of Luis Miguel and his father. "I am a fan of the series and I said to myself: we have to give people the opportunity to release their anger against Rey," Adilene Sanchez, the maker, told EFE.
The entertainment industry rides on the wave of a global clamor for justice and against silence, and at the same time, it drives the comeback of a once cash cow, all at once, all in the modern era semantics.
You see it. Time has passed, you have changed and so has he. Yet you don’t want to stop singing along.