Elvis Costello & The Attractions score their first top 10 success in their first visit to any of Billboard’s Latin albums chart as Spanish Model arrives at No. 6 on the Latin Pop Albums chart dated Sept. 25. The album also starts at No. 38 on the overall Top Latin Albums tally, No. 50 on Top Album Sales and No. 32 on Top Current Album Sales.
“I think it is important to keep in ‘constant radio contact,’ Costello tells Billboard. “I have all of the Billboard charts beamed to a little screen in the left lens of my spectacles like ‘The Terminator’.”
The album is a rework of Costello’s 1978 This Year’s Model and first with The Attractions which reached a No. 30 high on the overall Billboard 200 chart in 1978. Spanish Model was recorded completely in Spanish and produced by Argentinean producer Sebastian Krys. The 19-track set features a roster of Spanish-speaking artists from all corners of the world: Fito Páez, Draco Rosa, Juanes, Jorge Drexler, Francisca Valenzuela, La Marisoul, Jesse & Joy, to name a few, each deliver their vocal performances set to the band’s original instrumentation.
“We remixed ‘This Year’s Girl’ for David Simon’s HBO series, The Deuce and I heard all sorts of untapped power and possibilities in the Attractions original playing,” Costello adds. “I went into a kind of reverie and imagined replacing my voice with people singing in Spanish. I asked Sebastian if he thought that was a crazy idea. He thought for a moment and said, ‘Yes, it is crazy, let’s do it’.’ I know he knew the singers with the spirit, the spit, the wit and integrity to do right and it has been a great pleasure to get to know those artists with whom I was not already familiar or regarded as friends.”
Spanish Model launches with 2,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending Sept. 16, according to MRC Data. Album sales makes up nearly all of the album’s debut total, with one unit equal to one album sale.
“I have a very strong image of a Saturday matinee performance in the Hammersmith Palais,” Costello remembers. “I was about eight-years-old and up in the balcony with a bottle of pop, watching my father singing ‘Cuando Calienta El Sol,’ which was a big Spanish hit in the early ’60s. A friend of mine once asked my Dad where he learned his Spanish and he answered truthfully, “in bed”. I did not inherit his gift for other tongues.”
Spanish Model earns Costello his first entry on any Billboard Latin chart. Beyond his top 10 debut on Latin Pop Albums, the set undertakes other charts as it bows at No. 38 on the all-Latin genre Top Latin Album Sales chart and at No. 50 on the Top Album Sales tally. The latter ranks the top-selling albums of the week based only on traditional album sales. The chart’s history dates to May 25, 1991, the first week Billboard began tabulating charts with electronically monitored piece count information from SoundScan, now MRC Data.
About the recording process and production, Costello adds: “My favourite moment during the process of hearing all these wonderful new renditions was when Fito Paez delivered his re-write of ‘Radio Radio’ on New Year’s Eve 2019,” he adds. “I was in a shopping plaza at Disneyland with my family when I saw an e-mail come in from Sebastian containing the rough mix. There was music playing in the shop, a group on a bandstand about fifty yards away and all the noise of revelers on their way to the ride and I held the phone to my ear and heard Fito sing my name. I thought, ‘That’s not in the lyrics.’ Then I heard him sing the word ‘whiskey’ and I knew he’d torn up the original argument and was telling a brand new tale, which is exactly what I wanted.’