Ricky Martin (b. December 24, 1971) was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As a child, he sang in the choir and performed in school plays. When he was six, he began acting in television commercials. Shortly afterward, he took professional singing and acting lessons, which paved the way for his auditions for Menudo. In 1984, when he was 12 years old, he became a member of Menudo. For the next five years, he was the lead singer of the group, helping them become international sensations. Once he outgrew Menudo in 1989, he went back home to Puerto Rico, where he completed high school.
Following a few months of inactivity, he began to work his way back into the entertainment industry. He returned to Mexico, where he acted on stage for a year before returning to the music industry. In 1991, he released his self-titled debut album. Ricky Martin became a sizable hit on the Latin charts. Two years later, he followed it with Me Amaras, which was an even bigger hit, launching him to superstar status in Latin America.
In 1995, he released his third album, A Medio Vivir, in early 1998, he released his fourth album, Vuelve. His first English pop album, self titled was released in the spring of 1999; it made him an international superstar thanks to blockbuster singles including "Livin' la Vica Loca" and "She's All I Ever Had."
Ricky Martin sure did hit it big with his Self Titled album aimed at the pop-world outside of latin America. Reportedly taking two years to record, the attention to detail evident. Almost every track on this album is made to be a single, with minimal filler tracks that seem to clutter up many modern day pop albums. Nearly every track is crafted to reach a very wide and varied audience, of his traditional Latin audience as well as the American music market.
The album starts off with a bang with Livin' la Vida Loca that raises the energy level, and helps give a glimpse of more to come. The song was evidently designed to make it to #1, with a massive mainstream appeal. However it still manages to keep a Latin flair to it, that is enhanced by Ricky's undeniable charisma.
Spanish Eyes and She's All I Ever Had managed to capture Ricky's exciting Latin persona and blend it with simple pop melody which creates a powerful combination. Although the lyrics in both songs are uninspiring and predictable, both come with an addictive sound that sets apart good pop songs from fillers.
Shake Your Bon-Bon follows a sure-fire mold that aimed at the modern pop audience. Even at just 3:12 minutes long it gets rather repetitive, but entices middle aged house wives around the globe to shake their bon-bon and dream of a Latin love affair.
Ricky and Madonna team up well in the saucy and sexy Be Careful. Their voices compliment each other relatively well, with Ricky singing in an unusually low octave that sounds entirely different to his normal style. The backing track consists of nice soft and subtle sound effects, a nice guitar riff repeated over and over and soft Latin drums that add together for a soft sounding song that manages to avoid the tag of filler track.
I Am Made of You, You Stay With Me and I Count The Minutes however fall into the bland category of filler tracks, that do nothing but hurt the album with their pretentious lyrics and recycled pop song generic that sounds all too familiar. Only Ricky's pizzazz manages to keep these songs from bringing the album as a whole down.
The album returns to a high note with Love You for a Day. With its laughable lyrics, same-old trumpets and routine pattern, it makes for a rather cheesy but enjoyable romp that can still hook in even the most cynical people. The Cup of Life repeats the same formula of Love You for a Day, and one cannot help notice the similarities between the two songs.
Livin' La Vida Loca [Spanish Version] is targeted at Ricky's Latin audience from his past, and will not get many (if any) listens from mainstream listeners. Bella (She's All I Ever Had) likewise shows Ricky has not forgotten about his Latin supporters, and does not do much for the mainstream audience who will not be able to understand the lyrics. Bella is a comparatively good song on the album, that should not be ignored. The melody is rather simple as usual, although contains peculiar Indian sounding strings.
Maria finishes the album much like it started, with a bang. Maria blends in a mix of Latin and English lyrics, showing once again Ricky's multiple audience for the album. It is a fitting finale, and makes you (once again) feel like standing up and shaking your bon-bon, true Latin style.
Overall this mainstream debut for Ricky Martin is rich in quality content from start to finish, and maintains Ricky's Latin styling from the past with an addictive mainstream pop sheen. Although it slips in places, it still manages to stand out above the crowded pop crowd, and spawned many Latin-Pop crossovers like Enrique Iglesias and Marc Anthony. Ricky's hard work paid off and helped deliver one of the best Pop albums of the late 90's, and sparked many rumors about his sexuality that remain unanswered to this day.