Saturday, August 26, 2006

Pass the smiling faces with the hidden rage

Ricky Martin is one of those popstars I don't really follow as a person; I'm sure he is one, but I just don't pay attention to his personal life or him at all, outside of his music. Regardless of what anyone might say, "Livin' La Vida Loca" is a great song. In fact, his albums tend to have a lot of good songs on them. His 2005 album Life, though, is pretty clearly an attempt to break away from the music he is famous for. Whether he's incorporating rap or reggaeton, Ricky avoids returning to the sound of "Livin' La Vida Loca" and "She Bangs," most likely in an attempt to gain credibility. It is a shame that the music of his past would probably never succeed today--at least on a similar scale--but somehow the changing music market has forced Ricky in a direction that has resulted in some--well, at least one or two--very good songs. The album overall feels like it could use a shot of that energy and exuberance from his past, though.

Til I Get To You--This is the song that almost makes it worth it (or at least tolerable) that Ricky had to abandon all sign of joie de vivre. In fact, if the whole album, or even half of it, were this good, I wouldn't mind the change at all. "Til I Get To You" exemplifies Life's difference from Ricky Martin or Sound Loaded; just compare it to "Livin' La Vida Loca" or "She Bangs" and you can hear that Ricky's abandoned dancey exuberance and glitter for this big, atmospheric sound; he even admits he's "gonna change in a new direction," and he has--he's lost some of his cheekiness and cheesiness (which works here, but is unfortunate elsewhere). The chorus here is great--not quite soaring, but it feels huge, like it's sung at the bottom of a desert canyon, not in a happening night club where ladies throw themselves at an oiled-up Ricky Martin.

Drop It On Me--Ricky's reggaeton-influenced song. It's pretty clearly meant for dance halls. If you're in the right mood, it's good. I mentioned earlier that Ricky had lost his cheekiness--as this song's tone shows, that doesn't mean he's claiming to have lost interest in the ladies, but just that he seems to be positioning himself as a bit of a dominator, someone women can't help but be drawn to--I think of cheekiness as having an aura of fun about it, and that's something Life's songs are lacking.

I Don't Care--the lead single from Life. It pretty much went nowhere on the U.S. charts (I'd venture a guess that most Americans don't even know about it), though apparently it did better in the UK. It's definitely got a Latin flair, but I wouldn't really call it pop--maybe R&B with Latin influences. It also, unfortunately, has rapping in the middle. It's OK for that style, but the real reason I included it is that I wanted you all to hear the original version before moving on to...

I Don't Care (Norty Cotto Clubber Mix)--cheers for popstars releasing EPs with remixes! That's not done nearly often enough. There were two remix EPs for "I Don't Care," one of "reggaeton mixes" and one of "club mixes." This speeds up the song, makes it eight minutes long, and gives it more club-esque or glitzier electronic backing.

I Don't Care (Pt. 2) (Norty Cotto Mix)--as you can probably guess by the names, these two mixes are similar, although this one comes from Ultimix. Still faster, still glitzier (more so, probably), but a little more intense (and more pounding), which it has to be, since it has five and a half minutes to fit in the dancey-ness of the above remix. Sadly, the first minute, with little of Ricky's vocals, may be the best part, but it's still good overall.

To buy Ricky Martin's album, Life, go here (physical) or here (digital; you'll have to search for "Ricky Martin"); to buy I Don't Care (Club Mixes), go here (physical, but it's vinyl, not a CD) or here (digital; only valid for U.S. residents); and to buy Ultimix 119, you'll probably have to try eBay, unless you are a DJ, in which case go here.

Next up: I'm not positive, but I'm leaning towards one of my favorite bands of the moment (I have mentioned them before).


Henry said...

I like his music. but alot of people say that hes gay.

Poster Girl said...

Ooo, now that's one rumor about him that I have heard. I've wondered if his attempt to rebrand himself as "edgy" and the change in his music is also an attempt to somehow disprove the rumors, be they true or false...if that's part of the reason for it, I don't think it'll work.