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Pop - Released May 1, 1999 | C2Records - Columbia

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It was just a matter of time before Ricky Martin broke into the pop mainstream. By the end of the '90s, he was no longer the kid that used to be in Menudo or the General Hospital heartthrob -- he was a genuine star, ready to bust out of the Latin pop ghetto. His dynamic performance at the 1999 Grammys stole the show, announcing his presence to middle America -- and conveniently paving the way for the May release of Ricky Martin, his second eponymous album but first English-language record. Like most records that are crafted to sell an artist to a larger audience -- think Celine Dion's Falling Into You -- Ricky Martin is a big, bold album with something to please everyone, from his longtime Latin fans to housewives with a weakness for dramatic ballads. Reportedly two years in the making, the album never makes a wrong move, balancing infectious dance-pop with immaculately crafted power ballads, mid-tempo pop, straight-ahead rockers, and, of course, the inevitable cameos: Madonna on "Be Careful (Cuidado con Mi Corazón)" and Meja on "Private Emotion." Since each track has been so carefully constructed to stand on its own (most likely as a single), the album plays as a series of moments, some more thrilling than others. Although there is inarguably some filler cluttering the record -- and although the production sounds weirdly dated, with tracks like "I Count the Minutes" and "She's All I Ever Had" sounding for all the world as if they were cut in 1985 -- most of the moments work and the opening quartet ("Livin' la Vida Loca," "Spanish Eyes," "She's All I Ever Had," and the irresistibly stupid "Shake Your Bon-Bon") is positively intoxicating. If the rest of the album doesn't live up to the opening salvo, Martin does carry the day with his fine voice and undeniable charisma -- even when the songs aren't distinctive, he brings them alive. And that's the sign of a true star. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Latin - Released February 10, 2015 | Sony Music Latin

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Pop - Released October 19, 2015 | Sony Music Entertainment

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Pop - Released November 1, 2006 | Sony Music Latin

At no point does Ricky Martin's MTV Unplugged sound like an intimate acoustic performance. Like most of the acts on MTV Unplugged since Eric Clapton's Unplugged, Martin brings in a full band, complete with electric bass and keyboards, so even if there are no electric guitars, it sounds big, full, and polished, particularly since his band is augmented by strings and horns. It may not be small-scale, the way that Unplugged was in its earliest days, but the concert does have the effect of stripping Martin back to his basics -- which means that he does no English-language pop and avoids all the silly dance-pop that became his stock-in-trade after "Livin' la Vida Loca," while also avoiding the desperate nature of his 2005 studio album Life. What's left is the power of Martin as a live performer, and he's in good form here, delivering energetic performances of the up-tempo songs and avoiding schmaltz in the ballads. It's an album for the faithful -- instead of stretching, Martin is relying on his strengths -- but it will satisfy those who still stand by Ricky Martin after all the ups and downs in his career. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Latin - Released May 28, 2020 | Sony Music Latin

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Latin - Released September 22, 2016 | Sony Music Latin

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Latin - Released September 12, 1995 | Sony Discos

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Latin - Released February 10, 1998 | SMI Artist

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Ricky Martin's Spanish-language 1998 set Vuelve is the predecessor to the self-titled English-language album that would propel him to iconic status in the U.S. the following year. Vuelve, however, is much more of a Latin album than a pop album, and effectively balances red-hot Latin dance numbers with melodramatic ballads. The album's main highlight is the unforgettable, unstoppable "La Copa de la Vida," which is the song he chose for his now legendary show-stopping Grammy performance. The version on Vuelve is the original -- miles better than the English-language, remixed version which resurfaced on Ricky Martin. The version here includes all the bells, whistles, horns, trumpets, and percussion that anyone could want from such a carnival-esque song. Other highlights include the intoxicating album opener "Por Arriba, por Abajo," the hit "La Bomba," and other fast-paced gems, such as "Marcia Baila" and "Lola Lola." Some of the ballads lean toward the forgettable (especially during the album's second half), and his version of Michael Bolton's Hercules theme "Go the Distance" (here titled "No Importa la Distancia") is pure schmaltz. Other ballads, however, fare a little better, such as the melodramatic yet effective "Corazonado," the brooding piano and string ballad "Hagamos el Amor," and the Sting-esque "Casi un Bolero." All in all, this engaging and beautifully produced album, despite a few lulls, emerges a winner. © Jose F. Promis /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 13, 2014 | Columbia

Ricky Martin's second English-language album Sound Loaded did not fare nearly as well as its earth-shattering predecessor, even though the quality of the material is probably one notch higher. Several reasons could be given for this, but the most obvious is lousy marketing. First, the album's lead-off single, the electrifying (and terribly titled) "She Bangs" (arguably one of the best songs of 2000), which failed to make the U.S. Top Ten, wasn't even released as a commercial single. Second, the album's follow-up, "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely," was remixed and refashioned into a duet with red-hot Anglo-Latina vixen Christina Aguilera -- the album version is solo Ricky, and features largely acoustic accompaniment, as opposed to the remix's more bombastic instrumentation. Unbelievably, the version with Christina Aguilera wasn't released as a commercial single. Instead, the album was re-released with a single of the song clumsily attached to it (with a rubber band, no less). In other words, most of Ricky's fans, who had already bought the album, would have had to purchase it all over again in order to have the hit version of the song. And thirdly, the set's final single, "Loaded" (which was actually released commercially, indicating a base level of intelligence on the label's part), bore more than a striking resemblance to his breakthrough hit "Livin' la Vida Loca," but, by the time of its release, the magic had petered off. Those factors aside, the album is a lushly produced set, with more Latin-flavored dance cuts, such as the fun, Santana-ish "Amor," the smoldering, string-enhanced "Jezabel," the endearing "If You Ever Saw Her," and the sizzling Spanish-language track "Cambia La Piel." The ballads, however, tend to weigh the album down, such as the unmemorable "Come to Me" and "The Touch." And, finally, Latin loverman clichés abound, which bring down otherwise fine tracks such as "Saint Tropez" and the gypsy-tinged, slightly bizarre "One Night Man." Infinitely better marketing and less reliance on clichés will hopefully translate into better sales for Ricky Martin's future English-language albums, but, for the time being, Sound Loaded, an otherwise fine album (and exquisitely produced), will go down in history as something of an undeserved flop. © Jose F. Promis /TiVo
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World - Released April 13, 1993 | CBS - Sony

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In the 1980s, Menudo was the Latin pop equivalent of the Osmonds more than the Jackson 5 -- that is, pure bubblegum rather than bubblegum combined with some grit. As one of the lead singers of that Puerto Rican group, Ricky Martin was a superstar in Latin music. Martin's music matured when he went solo, but he continued to appeal to a young, largely female audience -- and he was still about as commercial as it gets. The CD isn't without its pleasures, including the dramatic ballad "Entre El Amor y Los Halagos," the urban contemporary-flavored "Ayudame," and "Que Dia Es Hoy (Self Control)," a Spanish-language translation of Laura Branigan's haunting 1984 hit "Self Control." But on the whole, Me Amaras (Spanish for "You Will Love Me") is too glossy, too calculated, and much too contrived for its own good. Few chances are taken on this by-the-book release, which seldom fails to sound like a product of the corporate music machine. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Latin - Released July 30, 2020 | Sony Music Latin

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Latin - Released June 23, 2017 | Sony Music Latin

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Pop - Released February 23, 2011 | Sony Music Latin

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Pop - Released November 15, 2011 | Sony Music Latin

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Pop - Released October 11, 2005 | Columbia

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Pop - Released November 1, 2007 | Sony Music Latin

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Ricky Martin released his first live disc in 2006 with MTV Unplugged. The album showed Martin to be a polished live performer capable of leading his tight band through powerfully energetic performances that outpaced his studio recordings. He must have known he was onto a good thing, because he released another live set in 2007. Black and White Tour doesn't have the same stripped-down quality of the MTV date, but it is still powered by an immediacy and a forcefulness that are very impressive. Again, Martin's band is top-notch, and there's no shortage of sparks flying on both the straightforward Latin grooves and the more streamlined dance-pop. "Vuelve" and "Tu Recuerdo" are here, as is, of course, "Livin' la Vida Loca." © TiVo
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Latin - Released July 17, 2015 | Sony Music Latin

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Pop - Released April 21, 2003 | Sony Music Latin

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Pop - Released July 15, 1998 | Legacy Recordings

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Pop - Released November 26, 1991 | Sony Discos

Leaving Menudo wasn't really a difficult decision for Ricky Martin, since every member must leave once he matures, but launching a solo career was a difficult task. Teaming up with fellow Menudo alumnus Robi Rosa, Martin wasted no time in writing and recording his eponymous debut, releasing the record in 1991. In hindsight, the album isn't as accomplished or irresistible as his later work, but it remains a pretty good debut. Even a few years after the release, the production sounded a little cheap and dated, but the best moments reveal that Martin is a gifted singer with boundless charisma. He can sell a ballad or a relentless dance-pop number with equal sincerity, even when the material itself is a little flat and undistinguished. And even if there is some filler cluttering the album, over half of the record works; when it does, it's exciting to hear Martin breaking free of Menudo and finding his own voice. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo