The Very Best of Gloria Estefan

by: Gloria Estefan

Released in the same year as The Essential Gloria Estefan, The Very Best Of is much less comprehensive, but still features 15 U.K. Top 40 hits from Cuba's biggest musical export. One of the most underrated artists of the late '80s, Gloria Estefan -- together with her husband's Miami Sound Machine -- was responsible for some of the most infectious and joyous pop hits of the decade, opening the doors for the likes of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez in the process. Her unique blend of Latin beats and synth-heavy pop on such tracks as "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," "Conga," and "1-2-3" helped her first two albums Anything for You and Cuts Both Ways, sell a million copies. But her ballads were just as strong, particularly the haunting "Can't Stay Away from You" and the beautiful "Don't Wanna Lose You Now." Her '90s output, however, was more inconsistent. The official theme for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, "Reach," is perhaps her finest moment, a motivational power ballad complete with gospel choir and tribal drums, while the Caribbean-flavored "You'll Be Mine," later sampled in Will Smith's "Miami," is an effortlessly uplifting party track. But there were several ill-advised attempts at high-energy disco-pop, particularly the two tracks from 1998's Gloria!, "Heaven's What I Feel" and "Don't Let This Moment End," and the three straight covers from Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me represent Estefan during her least creative period. With two of her three last albums in Spanish, just two songs from the noughties appear, the world music-inspired title track from 2003's Unwrapped and her biggest chart hit, Mylo's reworking of "Dr. Beat" on "Doctor Pressure," featured here alongside the original. There are a few surprising omissions, notably the Top Ten hit "Christmas Through Your Eyes" and her Oscar-nominated *NSYNC duet "Music of My Heart." But with a track list spanning 20 years and seven albums, The Very Best of Gloria Estefan is still an enjoyable and well-assembled hits collection from the undisputed Queen of Latin Pop. ~ Jon O'Brien

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