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Suavemente (English: Smoothly) is the debut studio album by American merenguero recording artist Elvis Crespo. Released by Sony Music Latin on April 14, 1998, the album popularized merengue music and established Crespo as a leading artist in the Latin music market. He collaborated with several songwriters and record producers to create an overall tropical music-flavored recording.

Blue-tinted profile of Elvis Crespo, looking onwards with his hair covering one sixth of his face.
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 14, 1998
LabelSony Music Latin
Elvis Crespo chronology
Singles from Suavemente
  1. "Suavemente"
    Released: April 4, 1998
  2. "Tu Sonrisa"
    Released: July 1998
  3. "Luna Llena"
    Released: November 1998
  4. "Nuestra Canción"
    Released: 1999

With romantic ballads and uptempo songs, Suavemente received favorable reviews from music critics who found the recording to contain energetic and catchy tracks. The album was commercially successful; it became the first merengue recording to peak at number one on the United States Billboard Top Latin Albums chart. Suavemente peaked at number 106 on the US Billboard 200 chart. Two of its singles, "Suavemente" and "Tu Sonrisa", topped the US Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart; Crespo was recognized as becoming the first artist to have placed two merengue singles at number one. Suavemente was Crespo's commercial breakthrough, introducing him to the popular music market with the Spanglish remix of its title track.

The album received several accolades, including Billboard Latin Music Awards for Album of the Year and New Artist Album of the Year and a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Tropical Performance. It won five Lo Nuestro Awards, including Tropical Album of the Year. The recording has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and has sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide. Its title song remains a staple at Latin music nightclubs and festivals, while Suavemente has been ranked among the most essential Latin albums of the past 50 years by Billboard magazine.


In 1993, brothers Héctor and Oscar Serrano formed Grupo Manía in Puerto Rico.[1] They enlisted Alfred Cotto, Reynaldo Santiago, and Elvis Crespo to tour and record two-step merengue music, popularizing the genre to a younger audience.[1] In 1996, Crespo left Grupo Manía and signed with Sony Music Latin (the company which signed his former band), beginning his solo career.[2][3] He said in a May 1999 Billboard interview that leaving the band was "a very hard decision", since they worked well together.[4] While Crespo was writing "Suavemente", he began singing the song and discovered that his son "spent all afternoon singing it".[5] This led him to record the track, since he thought "[it] would be a hit".[5] Crespo originally intended for "Suavemente" and "Tu Sonrisa", the singles which brought him international recognition, to be recorded with Grupo Manía.[4]

Release and promotionEdit

The album was released in the United States on April 14, 1998.[6] Suavemente and American merengue singer Manny Manuel's album, Es Mi Tiempo, increased US tropical-music sales by 27 percent over the previous year.[7] On November 28, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified Suavemente gold for shipments of 500,000 copies,[8] the first merengue record certified gold.[9] The album was certified gold in Chile, platinum in Venezuela, and platinum in Central America.[8] During the 1998 Christmas season, Suavemente was among the top-selling Latin albums in the United States.[10] On February 20, 1999, Sony Discos president Oscar Llord expressed an interest in promoting Suavemente in Latin America and Europe since he believed that the album would sell over one million copies.[8] In May, it sold 1,500,000 copies worldwide.[11] As of October 2017 Suavemente has sold over 879,000 copies in the US, making it the 11th bestselling Latin album in the country according to Nielsen SoundScan.[12]

Crespo performed at the 23rd New York Salsa Festival at Madison Square Garden on September 5, 1998 with El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, and Latin jazz recording artist Eddie Palmieri.[13] He was part of the Hot Latin Nights show at Walt Disney World's Pleasure Island on September 19, which was broadcast as a two-part Telemundo special on December 14 and 31.[14] On October 11 Crespo (performing with other Latin acts) sang "Suavemente" on the seven-hour Puerto Rico Se Levanta, a benefit concert broadcast live on Telemundo which raised $13 million for victims of Hurricane Georges on Hispaniola.[15] He performed "Suavemente" at the 1999 Billboard Latin Music Awards.[16] Crespo's appearance was praised by Billboard's John Lannert, who believed that it foreshadowed possible dominance at future music awards.[16] He appeared at El Concierto Del Amor, an annual tropical-music festival held at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey on February 14, 1999, with fellow salsa singers Jerry Rivera, Frankie Negron, Tito Nieves, and Michael Stuart.[17] To promote Suavemente Crespo toured Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Peru in the first quarter of the year,[8] and he performed at Billboard's 10th annual Latin Music conference on April 20, 1999.[18]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [19]

In Billboard, Latin music contributor John Lannert called the album a "merengue-bomba disc"[20] and Crespo a "midtempo pop/merengue" artist.[21] In his 2003 book, The Latin Beat, Ed Morales described the title song as a "salsa classic or pop hit."[2] True crime novelist M. William Phelps called "Suavemente" a "romantic Latin ballad" in his 2008 book, I'll Be Watching You.[22] In her 2005 book, Pop Culture Latin America, Lisa Shaw called "Suavemente" "an example of some of the best merengue with a rock-pop sound."[23] According to Batanga magazine, Suavemente is "intoxicating, feverish, pure sabroso merengue. Sizzle in the summer streets to the fast-paced beats, ear busting horns and percussive stamina";[24] Latina magazine noted the album's "feverish beat".[25] Spanish-language magazine Vistazo called Crespo the new sensation of merengue music,[26] and his album a favorite of listeners who enjoy pachanga.[26]

Sony Music International Latin America president Frank Welzer called Crespo a "genius" who wrote "catchy fan-pleasing" songs.[8] Terry Jenkins of AllMusic praised the album's "seductive Latin ballads" and found the focal mode of the recording to be sentimental, strong, lively, and swinging.[19] Business Wire noted its popularity in the American and Latino markets.[27] The Los Angeles Times called Suavemente and Crespo's repertoire "energy-packed".[28] Billboard's Lannert wrote that other Latin acts tried to emulate Crespo's style.[29]

Chart historyEdit

Suavemente debuted at number six on the US Billboard Top Latin Albums chart for the week ending May 2, 1998.[30] In its second week the album rose to number five,[31] selling 3,000 copies.[7] Suavemente was number three on the chart for the week ending May 16, selling 5,000 copies (a 60-percent increase).[7] The following week the album rose to number two, behind Selena's Anthology box set, and sold 7,000 copies.[32] The sales increase placed Suavemente at number 188 on the US Billboard 200 chart, only the second merengue album to make that chart.[32] In its fifth week, album sales fell 50 percent and it dropped to number eight.[33] The following week (which included the Memorial Day weekend), Suavemente moved up to number six.[34] For the week ending June 13, the album re-entered the Billboard 200 chart at number 170 and peaked at number one on the Top Latin Albums chart.[35] The next week it dropped to number three and 197 on the Top Latin Albums and Billboard 200 charts, respectively.[36] Suavemente sold 6,000 copies for the week ending June 13, rising to number two on the Top Latin Albums chart behind Ricky Martin's Vuelve.[37] The album dropped to third the following week.[38] Suavemente sold 6,000 copies the next week, rising to number two behind Vuelve.[39] After five weeks behind Vuelve, Suavemente passed it on the Top Latin Albums chart when its sales increased 16 percent to 8,600 copies.[40] For the week of August 8, 1998, it fell back to number two behind Vuelve.[13] After three weeks of declining sales, Suavemente was number three when it sold 5,000 copies as "Tu Sonrisa" (its second single) topped the Hot Latin Songs chart.[41] It ended 1998 as the year's eighth-bestselling Latin album.[42] Suavemente spent 98 consecutive weeks in the top 10 of the Top Latin Albums chart, the second-longest run in history.[43]

The album remained atop the US Tropical Albums chart for seven consecutive weeks after its release.[21] It began sliding down the chart, but remained near the top. Suavemente returned to the top of the Tropical Albums chart after twelve weeks behind the Dance with Me soundtrack.[44] The following week it sold 4,000 copies, remaining at number one.[9] In the album's fourth consecutive week atop the chart, it sold 6,500 copies.[45] During its fifth straight week atop the Tropical Albums chart, it sold 6,000 copies, down 16 percent.[46] Suavemente ended 1998 as the fourth-bestselling tropical-music album.[42] In its ninth consecutive week atop the Tropical Albums chart the album sold 7,000 copies, down 17 percent from the previous week.[47] The following week, its tenth consecutive at number one, it sold 7,500 copies (up seven percent).[48] For the week ending February 6, 1999, although sales of Suavemente dipped 13 percent to 6,500 copies the album remained atop the chart.[17] On the February 27, 1999 chart, album sales increased by 67 percent.[49] The following week sales decreased 30 percent to 7,000 copies, but Suavemente remained atop the Tropical Albums chart for its fourteenth straight week.[50]

The album debuted at number 43 on the US Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart for the week ending May 2, 1998;[30] the following week, it rose to number 39.[31] For the week ending May 16, the album jumped to number 13;[7] the following week, it rose to number nine.[32] In subsequent weeks, the album continued to rise up the chart; for the week ending June 13, it was number five.[35]


After "Suavemente" debuted at number 15 on the US Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart for the week ending April 25, 1998, the magazine's John Lannert predicted that Crespo could "easily win a new artist award" in 1999.[51] Billboard music analyst Karl Ross called the album's title song "a sultry [track] about the power of a kiss".[8] For the week ending May 16 "Suavemente" peaked at number one, displacing "Una Fan Enamorada" by Servando y Florentino.[7] Crespo became the first merengue recording artist with a number-one single on the Hot Latin Songs chart since Dominican singer Juan Luis Guerra's "El Costo De la Vida" six years earlier.[7] "Suavemente" remained at number one with 13 million audience impressions, a four-percent increase over the previous week.[7] The song broke the record for most weeks at number one for a tropical-music recording on the Hot Latin Songs chart (six) since Billboard began monitoring Latin airplay in 1986,[16] and it was number one on the Tropical Songs chart for nine consecutive weeks.[21] "Suavemente" ended 1998 as the year's most-successful tropical single.[42] Sony Discos president Oscar Llord told Billboard about the "carefulness" of crossing over into the English-language market, calling the lead single a process done "naturally" as a result of two US radio stations (in Miami and New) York requesting a Spanglish version.[16] On, Timothy Borden wrote that the song's Spanglish version had "unexpected crossover appeal".[5] The bilingual version was released in Germany in the second quarter of 1999.[8] "Suavemente" became Crespo's most-popular song and a "teenage anthem" in the Latino community.[52][53][54] It was the first Sony Music Latin release to debut on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart,[10] peaking at number 84.[55]

The album's second single, "Tu Sonrisa", was distributed to US radio stations in the second week of July 1998. It debuted at number 21 on the U.S. Hot Latin Tracks chart, as "Suavemente" remained in the top five.[21] The song peaked at number one on the Tropical Songs chart, Crespo's second number one.[13] "Tu Sonrisa" topped the Hot Latin Tracks chart in its sixth week, the singer's second number one on that chart.[41] It displaced "Te Quiero Tanto Tanto" by Mexican Latin pop group Onda Vaselina, and Crespo became the first merengue artist with two number-one Hot Latin Tracks singles.[41] After a week at number one, "Tu Sonrisa" was displaced by Gloria Estefan's "Oye!".[56] A week later it again topped the chart for one week before being displaced by "Perdido Sin Ti", Martin's fourth single from Vuelve.[57] After the success of "Suavemente"'s bilingual version, Sony Music distributed a club mix of "Tu Sonrisa" to radio stations in February 1999.[8] Billboard Latin music contributor Leila Cobo called the song "catchy"[58] and (with "Suavemente") "irresistible".[53] "Tu Sonrisa" is the fifteenth-most-successful Sony Discos single on the Hot Latin Tracks chart since the chart was established in 1999.[59]

"Luna Llena", Suavemente's third single, debuted and peaked at number 29 on the Hot Latin Tracks chart for the week ending December 12, 1998.[45] It dropped off the chart after a week[46] before charting on Hot Latin Tracks and Tropical Songs at 33 and 13, respectively, for the week ending January 16, 1999.[60] The song peaked at 26 and 11 on the Hot Latin Songs and Tropical Songs charts, respectively.[55] The fourth and final single from the album, "Nuestra Cancion", was less successful; it peaked at number 17 on the Tropical Songs chart in 1999.[55]


Suavemente is considered to have revolutionized merengue music, making it a popular subgenre of Latin music,[61] and the album brought Crespo international recognition in the merengue market.[62][20] The singer is the first merengue artist with an album atop the US Top Latin Albums chart,[16] and two number-one songs on the US Hot Latin Songs chart.[16] Billboard cited Crespo and American singer-actor Carlos Ponce as jump-starting the US market with their albums.[42] According to Billboard's Karl Ross, Crespo transcended the US Latino market and his success may have been felt in Europe and the Pacific Rim.[8] Sony Discos president Oscar Llord called Suavemente the "most successful debut album of a Tropical artist in history."[8] Suavemente was listed as the third best-charting and -selling Sony Discos album during the Top Latin Albums twenty-fifth year in 1999.[59] Crespo was ranked fifth on the Hot Latin Songwriters in 1998, eleventh on the Top Latin Albums Artists, seventh on the Hot Latin Tracks Artists, fourth on the Top Tropical Album Artists, and second on the Tropical Tracks Artists lists.[42] Suavemente has been named one of the most essential Latin albums of the past 50 years by Billboard,[63] and its title song became a staple in Latin-music nightclubs.[64][65] The lead single also became a popular tune in Mexico, where it was used in festivals around the country.[66]

At the 1999 Billboard Latin Music Awards Crespo received four nominations (including Album of the Year and Hot Latin Track of the Year), tying him with Selena for the most nominations in a single year;[16] the record was later broken by Tito El Bambino, with 18 nominations in 2010.[67] He won New Artist Album of the Year and Latin Dance Maxi-Single of the Year.[16] Crespo was the Latin 50 Artist of the Year at the 2000 Billboard Latin Music Awards (the top-selling Latin artist from January 1999 to January 2000).[20] He was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Performance in 1999,[60] losing to Marc Anthony's Contra la Corriente.[68] At the 11th Premio Lo Nuestros, Crespo received six nominations and won five awards: Tropical Album of the Year, Tropical Song of the Year, Tropical Male Artist of the Year, Tropical-Salsa Duo or Group of the Year (shared with Milly Quezada), and Tropical New Artist of the Year.[69][70]

Track listingEdit

1."Suavemente"Elvis Crespo4:27
2."Nuestra Cancion"Homero d'Rodriguez3:29
3."Luna Llena"Raldy Vázquez4:25
4."Me Arrepiento"Luis A. Cruz3:46
5."Princesita"Juan L. Guzman4:48
6."Tu Sonrisa"Crespo4:33
7."Yo Me Moriré"Juan Perez3:32
9."Por Qué?"Vázquez4:24
10."Te Vas"Vázquez4:18


Adapted from AllMusic.[19]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[73] 2× Platinum 120,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[74] Platinum+Gold 350,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[75] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[76] Platinum 879,000[12]
Uruguay (CUD)[77] 2× Platinum 12,000^
Venezuela[8] Platinum 10,000
Central America[8] Platinum
Europe 500,000[11]

^shipments figures based on certification alone

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Morales 2003, p. 250.
  2. ^ a b Morales 2003, p. 249.
  3. ^ Lannert, John (July 25, 1998). "Latin Notas". Billboard. 110 (30): 57. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Ross, Karl (August 18, 2001). "Merengue Crew Stays On Winning Streak". Billboard. 113 (33): 32. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Borden, Timothy. "Elvis Crespo's Biography". Net Industries. Retrieved March 11, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  6. ^ "AllMusic Reviews > Suavemente". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Lannert, John (May 16, 1998). "Elvis Crespo Has His Own Shakin' Goin' On". Billboard. 110 (20): 45. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Ross, Karl (February 20, 1999). "The Smooth Solo Success of Elvis Crespo". Billboard. 111 (8): 38. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Lannert, John (November 28, 1998). "Latin Notas". Billboard. 110 (48): 38. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Lannert, John (January 9, 1999). "Latin Notas". Billboard. 111 (1): 32. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  11. ^ a b Watrous, Peter (May 24, 1999). "For Latin Music, New Worlds To Conquer; English-Speaking Fans Discover a Spanish Voice". The New York Times. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
  12. ^ a b Estevez, Marjua (October 17, 2017). "The Top 25 Biggest Selling Latin Albums of the Last 25 Years: Selena, Shakira & More". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
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  15. ^ Lannert, John (October 24, 1998). "Latin Notas". Billboard. 110 (43): 54. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
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  17. ^ a b Lannert, John (February 6, 1999). "Latin Notas". Billboard. 111 (5): 43. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
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  63. ^ "The 50 Greatest Latin Albums of the Past 50 Years". Billboard. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  64. ^ Brusca 2011, p. 46.
  65. ^ Pritchard & Russo 2010, p. 48.
  66. ^ Santana 2005, p. 115.
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  75. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (1999). Sólo éxitos. Año a año. 1959–2002 [Only Hits. Year by year. 1959–2002] (in Spanish). Madrid, Spain: Iberautor Promociones Culturales. p. 950. ISBN 978-84-8048-639-2.
  76. ^ "American album certifications – Elvis Crespo – Suavemente". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  77. ^ "Priemos – 1999" (in Spanish). Cámara Uruguaya del Disco.


External linksEdit