Gloria Estefan is the most successful crossover performer in Latin music history, selling over 100 million albums worldwide, 31.5 million of those in the United States alone. She’s also a longtime LGBTQ+ ally and at least partially responsible for giving us both Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. (Oh, and she was hiring Ru girls more than a decade before RuPaul’s Drag Race was even a thing.)
In 1990, when she was at the very peak of her popularity, Estefan recorded “Sex in the ’90s.” The deep track was included on her 1991 smash album Into The Light, the follow-up to her 1989 megahit album Cuts Both Ways.
Estefan co-wrote the dance song with Jon Secada. Though it was never released as a single, she included it on the setlist for her Into The Light World Tour, which remains one of highest grossing tours ever for a Latin artist to this day.
“Sex in the ’90s” can be interpreted in a couple of different ways.
Many have read it as Estefan’s response to the sexier, more empowered direction her peers were talking with their music at the time.
Madonna, for instance, high off the success of her single “Justify My Love”, would release her album Erotica not long after Into The Light. Meanwhile, Janet Jackson would follow with her sexually-charged album janet. one year after that.
“Sex in the ’90s” was the antithesis to those two projects, with Estefan singing, “Tell me that I’m crazy ’cause I love to have fun/Stay up all night, party, go to bed with the sun/Always on the dance floor to the end of the night/But if I go home alone and everything is alright.”
Others have read “Sex in the ’90s” as Estefan’s response to the HIV/AIDS crisis, which was still ravaging the gay community, with the song serving as a sort of safe sex/abstinence message to her fans, many of whom were LGBTQ+.
“You’ve come a long way baby saying it’s true/If the ’70s freed our inhibitions what good did it do?/Gotta shut it in, get it out, turn it away/’Cause you gotta be crazy to have sex in the ’90s,” she cautions.
Check out this rare footage of Estefan talking about recording the song in 1990.