by Ricky Martin, pop (2005)

Ricky Martin's third English CD Life is supposed to be the result of his soul-searching trips to Tibet and other such places where he apparently learned to squash any hint of sexuality in his self even further so that he now comes off like a charisma-free tin whistle. Or at least that's what the music on Life suggests to me. I miss that Ricky Martin who happily shake his bon-bons. In a way, his US success around 1999 had been a curse because he became so crippled by gay jokes and other ways used by too many Americans afraid of any hint of sexuality in the media to turn him into a caricature that he would never recover from being the singer behind Shake Your Bon Bon. The gay fans turn against him because they are so convinced that he is gay that they feel that he has betrayed them by not coming out of the closet and personally shagging each and all of them. The mainstream media pretty much drove him back inside the closet if he was ever in one. You know, Ricky Martin never had this much problems with his image when he was a huge superstar in the Latin music community all over the world.

Anyway, I guess America is therefore to be blamed for Ricky Martin coming up with this "I am now a devout zen-follower and to prove it, listen to the strings of the sitar on my music!" Alanis Morissette scared the world when she returned naked from India wanting to thank everyone while Ricky Martin chooses to instead turn his image into that of some heavily-tattooed hustler. Something went wrong on the path from Rama Krishna to Ricky Martin, if you ask me.

Anyway, the lead single Life is a terribly discordant-sounding track that sees Mr Martin here shouting at the top of his voice in a barely-discernible melody. The rest of the CD fortunately panders less to the current trend of getting some rent-a-rapper guy and some scantily-clad female R&B singer to mask the fact that the song has no melody. Heavily laden with Indian and Middle-Eastern strings and horns, tracks like Life and 'Til I Get To You are more listenable with catchier choruses. They do sound a lot like rejects from Sting's last trip to the region for musical influences though.

The bottom line is, Life is a CD that on the whole doesn't come together well. Many of the tracks see Mr Martin and his background singers chanting and shouting instead of singing, giving off this discordant "hey, everyone's drunk and celebrating by shouting along, ha-ha-ha!" vibe. Even when the tracks manage to come together in a coherent manner to produce a catchy and hummable chorus, they take some time to get warmed up to because this CD seems to place more priority over showing off the tricks learned from some Sai Baba's sitar lessons as opposed to melody and catchiness. The exception is the refreshingly straightforward ballad Save The Dance, and its minimal Asian and Middle-Eastern panderings suggest that Ricky Martin may want to consider some other place for his next musical education. Perhaps Italy?

Rating: 68

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