Ricky Martin: A Pop Star Rises Again Martin shot to stardom with his hit single "Livin' La Vida Loca" in 1999. While he's spent much of the past decade under the radar, Martin is back with Musica + Alma + Sexo.
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Ricky Martin: A Pop Star Rises Again

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Ricky Martin: A Pop Star Rises Again

Ricky Martin: A Pop Star Rises Again

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Okay. When Ricky Martin released his last pop album in 2005, his familiar image was a sexy, heterosexual, Latin pop singer. Since then, Ricky Martin has come out as gay, and he's just released a new album and is heading out on tour.

NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin reports.

SELENA SIMMONS-DUFFIN: If you were to open up a time capsule from 1999, this track would be in it.

(Soundbite of song, "Living La Vida Loca")

Mr. RICKY MARTIN (Singer): (Singing) Upside, inside out, living la vida loca...

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Twelve years ago, Ricky Martin was catapulted into global fame with his Ken-doll looks and cheerful pop tracks. But he was actually a big-shot singer long before "Living La Vida Loca."

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. MARTIN: (Singing in foreign language)

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: That's Martin performing as part of Puerto Rican Boy Band Menudo. He joined in 1984 at the age of 12 and was a member for five years. The group was hugely popular during that time. At one concert in a Brazil stadium, 130,000 fans showed up - double the capacity.

Mr. MARTIN: It was all about discipline.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: That's Ricky Martin.

Mr. MARTIN: I was part of a band and I was supposed to sing this song, and I was supposed to say whatever they told me to say and to wear the clothes that they told me to wear, and dance to the choreography that they told me to dance.

(Soundbite of song, "The Best Thing About Me Is You")

Mr. MARTIN: Now it's about entertaining. Now it's freedom. Now it's about not wearing masks and just being who I am.

Mr. MARTIN: (Singing) I'm as happy as I can be, 'cause I'm allergic to tragedy...

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: On his new album, "Musica, Alma, Sexo," or "Music, Soul, Sex," many tracks have both English and Spanish versions.

Mr. MARTIN: (Singing in foreign language)

You cannot translate the songs. You just - when you write an English song, you write an English song. And then when you start writing in Spanish, you just have to start from zero. If you're lucky enough to find the same, you know, storyline, well, you're lucky.

There is one song that is called "Shine," and in Spanish it's called "Te Vas." The Spanish version is: You're leaving. And the English version is: Everything about love.

(Soundbite of song, "Shine")

Mr. MARTIN: (Singing) Shine brighter than a rain of falling stars...

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Another track is a closer match. In English it's called "Liar," and in Spanish, "No Te Miento."

(Soundbite of song, "No Te Miento")

Mr. MARTIN: (Singing in foreign language)

It's a conversation with the audience where I say, you know, I'm explaining to you where I've been and I'm going to be really honest - I never lie to you.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Martin dodged rumors about his sexuality for years until last March, when he wrote on his website that he was a proud and fortunate homosexual man.

Many wondered how audiences especially in Latin America would react to his coming out. Martin says the response has been very positive.

Mr. MARTIN: If I knew it was going to be so amazing, it was going to feel so right, and if I knew the reaction of the audience and the media was going to be so positive, I would have done it a long time ago.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: You can hear the theme of being out in the new album, like in this song called "Sera Sera."

(Soundbite of song, "Sera Sera")

Mr. MARTIN: (Singing in foreign language)

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Martin sings: Hiding in the shadows you won't find what you're looking for, never.

When he tours this spring, he's bringing his two-year old twin sons, Matteo and Valentino, with him.

Mr. MARTIN: They have their passports ready. The buses are ready. The hotel rooms are ready, and I can't wait to go back on the road.

(Soundbite of song, "Sera Sera")

Mr. MARTIN: (Singing in foreign language)

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Ricky Martin's new album, "Music, Alma, Sexo," came out this week.

Selena Simmons-Duffin, NPR News.

(Soundbite of song, "The Best Thing About Me Is You")

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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