Over a glittering thirty-five-year career, Latin pop sensation Ricky Martin has conquered the worlds of music, television and cinema. After rocketing to worldwide fame in 1999 with the release of ‘Livin la Vida Loca’, the Puerto Rican singer quickly became an icon and is now one of the best-selling Latin artists of all time. While he may be better known for hits like ‘Nobody Wants to Be Lonely’ and ‘She Bangs’, Martin has been a keen philanthropist ever since his teenage years and now campaigns for LGBT+ rights on the international stage.
There’s a lot to say about this Latin star but, for now, let’s go back to basics and remind ourselves of the Ricky Martin songs that rocked our world.
#10 – Más
Más – or ‘more’ in English – is a jubilant dance song dedicated to the beauty of living with pride and conviction. Released in 2011, the track is about living your best life and brushing off negative individuals who would rather see you fail. The song’s lyrics reference fictional characters from Martin’s imagination such as Tico, an artist from Manhattan who carries a boombox everywhere he goes. When asked about the inspiration for these characters, Martin said, “I made them up, but they’re also real you know.”
#9 – Adiós
On his 2015 single Adiós, Ricky Martin surprised fans by singing in French as well as his usual Spanish. Switching effortlessly between languages, he pleads with a lover to stay and ‘say goodbye’ because he can’t bear to be with them or be without them. Adiós was eventually released in four different languages – Spanish, English, French and Turkish – proving Martin really is a global superstar. It also became his 24th top ten hit on the Latin Billboard chart.
#8 – Jaleo
In 2003, Martin released Jaleo, an uptempo track inspired by flamenco beats and Middle Eastern rhythms. In Spanish, the word ‘jaleo’ refers to a type of energetic dance and the clapping that traditionally accompanies it. The track is equally lively with a fast chorus and sensual lyrics that tell the story of two desperate lovers dancing in the moonlight. Jaleo was Martin’s second US single from his album Almas del Silencio.
#7 – Vuelve
Vuelve – ‘returns’ in English – was a massive success for Ricky Martin in 1998. While he wouldn’t be a global megastar until the year after its release, the song was hugely popular in Latin America and topped the Latin Billboard chart for two weeks. Like many of Martin’s releases, Vuelve combines multiple genres, meshing Latin pop with power ballad vocals and elements of gospel and rock. The track reached number one in eight different countries.
#6 – Vente Pa’ Ca
Vente Pa’ Ca – ‘come here’ in English was released in 2016 and features popular Colombian singer Maluma. The track’s reggaeton rhythms showed a side of Ricky Martin that his fans hadn’t seen before. The song’s lyrics are sexier than usual and see the King of Latin Pop delighting in naughty innuendos such as “ate word of mouth on the couch” and “your booty takes me away”.
#5 – La Mordidita
La Mordidita is one of Ricky Martin’s most-watched videos on YouTube with a staggering 1.8 million views. The song artfully blends reggaeton, salsa and even EDM-inspired elements to create a vibrant, uplifting dance tune. La Mordidita was released in 2015 and its music video was shot on location in Colombia. In the video, Martin dances in the street with ballerinas infected by an insatiable ‘dancing virus’. The song, which speaks of uncontrollable lust and desire, was certified 15x Latin platinum in the United States.
#4 – La Copa de la Vida
La Copa de la Vida marked a turning point in Ricky Martin’s career and had the entire world asking “Who is this guy?” It was the official song of the 1998 FIFA World Cup and reached number two on the Latin Billboard Chart. Although the singer wouldn’t reach worldwide fame until he released Livin La Vida Loca in 1999, La Copa de la Vida (The Cup of Life) gave international audiences an irresistible taste of Latin America’s big-hearted, big-tempoed rhythms.
#3 – Nobody Wants to Be Lonely
This power ballad featuring Christina Aguilera delights in its own melodrama pairing two huge vocal performances with lashings of sexual chemistry and a generous serving of romantic metaphors. ‘Nobody Wants to Be Lonely’ was a hit across the globe reaching the top ten in more than ten countries and being ranked 65th in VH1’s countdown of the greatest love songs of all time. Martin also released a Spanish language version of the track but it’s his duet with Christina Aguilera that fans can’t forget.
#2 – She Bangs
‘She Bangs’ is one of those songs, a track that even people who don’t listen to Ricky Martin know how to sing. It was released in 2002 to critical acclaim and reached number one in seven countries including the United States, Great Britain, Italy, Canada, Australia and Sweden. All these years later, it’s hard to underestimate just how recognizable the track has become. And who could forget William Hung’s unparalleled rendition of ‘She Bangs’ on American Idol in 2004? All together now, “She looks like a flower but she stings like a bee…”
#1 – Livin La Vida Loca
We’ve finally reached the end of our countdown and there’s only one Ricky Martin song that could top the list. ‘Livin La Vida Loca’ was released in 1999 and immediately enthralled music fans with its lyrics about a wild woman who lives fast and bewitches every man she meets. Today, it’s considered one of the best pop songs of all time and the best Latin track ever by some publications. The track secured Martin’s place as a global superstar breaking multiple records and spending eight weeks atop the Canada Top Singles chart. Go on, you know you want to give it a spin. Just make sure the speakers are turned up and you’ve got a sangria in your hand first.