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Revealing Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin has made a deeply personal CD that’s more spiritual than his earlier work. But he’s still keeping listeners at a safe distance.

AFTER A TWO-YEAR breather, Ricky Martin is back with “Almas Del Silencio” (“Souls of Silence”), his first Spanish language album since 1998’s “Vuelve.” This record is the singer’s attempt to prove that he is not a one-hit wonder or regional phenomenon. With his record sales declining and ongoing rumors about his sexual orientation, this Latin golden boy faces more creative and personal scrutiny than ever before.

The pop idol prodigy took the U.S. music scene by storm after his exuberant performance at the 1999 Grammy Awards. His hip-shaking rendition of “La Copa de la Vida” made him an instant sex symbol. Martin was already a platinum seller in Latin America, where his popularity had been soaring since he was part of the Puerto Rican ensemble known as Menudo.

After his Grammy performance, Sony Music rushed to bring out Martin’s first smash hit, “Living La Vida Loca,” and his self-titled crossover album. It ended up selling more than 17 million copies worldwide.

In 2000, Martin followed up with “Sound Loaded,” an uninspired effort that merely repeated a previously winning formula. The album was a commercial dud and Martin had to make a serious effort not to fade away from the pop scene.

On top of his artistic challenges, Martin faced enormous scrutiny about his personal life and rumors about whether he is gay.

Martin fueled such innuendo in an interview with New York Daily News in 2000 when he refused to specifically answer questions about his sexual orientation.

“The homosexual community wants me to be gay and the heterosexual community wants me to be straight,” he said. “They pull and push and pull and push. I don't think it’s necessary to either say I’m gay or I’m straight. I’m an artist, and you can take my poster and fantasize about me however you want.”

THIS SITUATION PAINFULLY underlines yet again how brutal the entertainment industry and public opinion can be.

With “Almas Del Silencio” (“Souls Of Silence”), Martin appears to be hoping that his music can take center stage again. The singer presents the album as a very personal soul-searching that is supposedly a departure from his previous bubble gum pop.

He left the songwriting to an impressive team of musicians, including Franco de Vita, Emilio Estefan, Alejandro Sanz and famed Columbian musician Juanes.

The album is a well-produced, mature pop record, which combines a number of exciting up-tempo songs with slick ballads that include authentic Latin musical and vocal arrangements.

“Tal Vez” (“Perhaps”) is a sweet pop ballad with a tear-jerking orchestral introduction that features Martin’s signature crooning. The fierce “Jaleo” (“Commotion”) is the album’s “La Vida Loca” clone with its thriving rhythms, Flamenco percussion and painfully infectious chorus.

On the Elton John-type piano ballad “Asignatura Pendiente” (“Pending Assignment”), the singer reflects on the dehumanizing elements of his fame and sings in Spanish, “A picture with Bush. A suite in the Waldorf. And more cars than friends.”

The song “Y Todo Queda En Nada” (“And All Remains In Nothing”) carries a similar theme. Martin sings, “I listen to the comments of all my friends. That I seem to be different. That I am so destroyed.”

Martin prides himself in having made a record that is deeply personal and more spiritual than his earlier work. And it includes seemingly personal reflections. But he also keeps listeners at a safe distance with lyrics that often are trivial and unoriginal.

This born-to-entertain artist should let his guard down a bit and give audiences more of the real Ricky Martin.

June 1, 2003 in Music Reviews | Permalink

Comments

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Dear Ajan, I enjoyed reading your insightful and well-written comments about Ricky Martin. I agree, I think Ricky should reveal to the audience a bit more of his true self. I saw him at ashopping cneter appearance in Melbourne, Australia, on 30 Jul 2003, and I wasn't disappointed!
However, I wouldn't buy ALMAS DEL SILENCIO because it doesn't offer the mono-lingual English speaker a lot. I think SOUND LOADED was a good album, although it seems that it was unanimously panned by critics.
I'm looking foward to the release of the long-awaited English album by Ricky Martin in 2004. I also hope he'll return to my country. In the meantime I'll keep looking at the little photo I took with my OLYMPUS!
What do you think of the British 'boy' singer, KAVANA? They say he's planning a comeback. Currently I'm impressed with Rufus Wainwright, The Kings of Leon and Australian group: TAXIRIDE.

All the best to you buddy. You are a gifted writer!
ANDREW W TREZISE

Posted by: Andrew Trezise at Jan 13, 2004 7:15:33 PM

Hi Ajan, I'm Wilma from Hong Kong. Unlike Andrew I did bought Almas del Silencio. I'm going to be honest, I'm a Ricky fan. I got his album the first day it was released. It's a brilliant album, but I wanna say I do agree with your last comment. We need more the real Ricky. I want to know more than his blues and Puerto Rico. I wanna know what makes him happy and such. He's been talking about soul searching and maybe it's time to talk more... I met him in Hong Kong last summer, he's fun but still I could sense a big distance... like he's shutting us out from sth, but generally it was a great experience... he's nice to hug!!!!!

Posted by: Wilma at Apr 21, 2004 7:31:08 AM

MY NAME IS FTTOMA AM FROM KUWAIT i LIKE THE ALBOM SOOOOOOOO MUCH AND I THINK THE ALBOM IS VERYGOOD AND HE DID THE BEST IN THIS ALBOM AND ALL HIS ALBOMS BUT i THINK THIS IS THE
BEST ALBOM

Posted by: fatoma at Sep 28, 2004 8:02:27 AM

Whether Ricky is gay or not, I do not mind to suck his dick. He is the most handsome man in the world. Sooo sexy...

Posted by: Ricky Lover Gal at Jun 13, 2005 11:45:28 PM

Almas del Silencio is very good CD. I liked it so much. This is really Ricky Martin. Hi decided to return to his language, spanish. Ricky - the best!

Posted by: Alex at Sep 26, 2005 11:14:58 AM

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