|Ricky Martin - Sound Loaded|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 14 November 2000|
How many people does it take to make a Ricky Martin song? Believe it or not, there are 63 people who have either production, songwriting, engineering or performance credits on "She Bangs," the first track and lead single from Ricky Martin’s new album Sound Loaded. It’s obvious from the outset that no expense was spared on this record, especially "She Bangs," and Columbia Records is going to the bank on this former Menudo member and soap opera actor. Will Sound Loaded be a smash hit or will Ricky Martin be unable to escape the dreaded sophomore slump, you ask? Although this isn’t really Ricky Martin’s second album it might as well be to most people in the USA. It’s his first since achieving superstar status in 1999, when his album Ricky Martin was catapulted to ridiculous success by the songs "Livin' La Vida Loca," "Shake Your Bon Bon" and "She’s All I Ever Had."
Not a note is played or sung on Sound Loaded that wasn’t carefully planned out and the result is an album that feels overproduced at times and lacks spontaneity. There are a few moments when the songwriting and the energy of the performances shine through the heavy production. You can tell what the best songs are on this album by looking at the back cover. The songs that have the biggest hit potential have been strategically re-recorded by Ricky in Spanish to ensure ease of crossover back to the Spanish- speaking stations where he first made his name known.
Interestingly, in the song "She Bangs," which is unquestionably the album’s standout track, the chorus on the Spanish version is still sung in English. I guess an executive decision was made that it sounded better than singing "Ella Golpe," and I think that was a wise choice.
Two more of the album’s stronger tracks, "Come To Me" and "Loaded," have been given the Spanish-language treatment. Unlike "She Bangs" these other songs have new titles "Ven a Mi" and "Dame Mas," respectively.
There are really three parts to this album. The first four tracks are the songs that have "hit" written all over them. The middle section of the album is full of slower ballads and some of the cheesier pop songs that lost my attention very quickly. The end of the album picks up again with the Spanish version of "She Bangs," followed by three new tracks that are staggered between the other two Spanish remakes. The song "Are You In It For Love" is an up-tempo jam in the same spirit as "Livin’ la Vida Loca" and really saves Sound Loaded from running out of steam.
The biggest flaw of Sound Loaded is that, strangely, there just aren’t enough solid pop hits on it for me to wholeheartedly recommend the disc. If you listen to a station that plays "today’s top hits and yesterday’s favorites," you’ll probably end up hearing all of the songs that you’d enjoy from Sound Loaded more times than you can stand. The filler in the middle of this album isn’t going to stop it from being a runaway smash hit and every penny that Columbia Records spent on the production and promotion will be worth it to them. They are not just selling a record, they are producing a modern-day superstar, and that doesn’t come cheap.