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Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin

  • C2/Columbia

With his hip-shaking, house-quaking version of “The Cup of Life (La Copa de la Vida)” on the Grammy Awards earlier in the year, Ricky Martin may have given 1999 its one defining musical moment — while triggering an explosion of the long-simmering Latin pop music scene.

With his English-language debut, Martin, the former teen star of Menudo, has crafted a smart, though calculated mix of Latin percussive power, pop hooks and smooth — but not overly slick — production. More than two years in the making, it's fueled by the irresistible lead single “Livin' La Vida Loca.” That track and the drum thundering, horn-poppin' take of “The Cup of Life (La Copa de la Vida)” should generate considerable interest in the set, but so should the intriguing duet with Madonna on “Be Careful (Cuidado Con Mi Corazon).” Their voices flow together well on the ballad, which was produced by Madonna's techno-accomplice William Orbit.

Kevin O'Hare