Ricky Martin found himself at his most newsworthy a few months ago when he announced that he was gay. Despite the media distractions, Martin put out “Más,” his best, and just generally good, pop album.
The success behind “Más” banks on two elements. The first is its embrace of the Spanish language. “Livin’ La Vida Loca” was a pop sensation, but it wasn’t because of lyrical excellence. As someone who can’t speak Spanish, I can’t tell if the lyrics on “Más” are any better, but they certainly sound better in Spanish.
One mistake Martin and producers made when assembling tracks for the album was including English versions of the two singles, “Lo Mejor De Mi Vida Eres Tu” and “Te Vas.” Listening to Martin duet with Natalia Jimenez on the former might not carry the same commercial value as him singing with Joss Stone in English, but listening to Martin and Jimenez take the Spanish approach is more enjoyable. “Te Vas” is a great dance song, and much better than the English version (“Shine”).
Martin keeps the album interesting by using many styles. The opening tracks “Más” and “Frio” are suited for the club, whereas “Basta Ya” is a strong ballad and “Cantame Tu Vida” uses a Spanish guitar for a softer approach. The only disappointing track is “Tu Y Yo,” another stab at a ballad that lumbers on for more than six minutes.
Martin’s failure to reflect his recently announced lifestyle is a little disappointing. Martin’s duets with Jimenez and Stone follow the standard gender scheme for pop music. It’s tough to blame Martin for not breaking the mold considering the prejudice of many listeners, but he missed a chance to break some much-needed new ground in this, a new generation.
Regardless, this collection of tracks is his best yet, and hopefully he can push his sound even further the next time around.