Alejandro Sanz, Spain's top-selling pop star, is working the U.S. market with the impetus of a brand-new act. And he is seeing results.

Alejandro Sanz, Spain's top-selling pop star, is working the U.S. market with the impetus of a brand-new act. And he is seeing results. "A la Primera Persona," the first single off Sanz's new set, "El Tren de los Momentos," debuted at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart, the highest debut for a Sanz single in his nearly 10-year radio chart history in this country.

In the Latin world, from Madrid to Buenos Aires, Sanz is a superstar and a creative artist's artist whose music is elaborate and complex, and whose record sales always top the million-unit mark worldwide. In the United States, his artistry has been rewarded with 15 Latin Grammy Awards, more than any other artist. But his sales, while strong, have not been commensurate with his international success, and most of his U.S. albums hover around the 200,000-unit mark, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Now, those numbers should change. For the past three months, Sanz has been on a train of nonstop promotion far more intense than any he has done before. The title of "Tren de los Momentos" (Train of Moments) refers to key times in the past 18 months of Sanz's life. Sanz composed the blend of pop, flamenco and hip-hop in a nontraditional manner, improvising most of the melodies and lyrics over basslines and drum loops.

"Musicians tend to overdo things," Sanz says. "Many don't realize that rests are as important as the notes themselves, and the arrangements often become a kind of cushion where everything sounds the same. Here, every instrument, every note is at the service of the song."