Picks and Pans Review: Ricky Martin

updated 10/17/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/17/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Life

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Ricky Martin has certainly learned how loca life can be. After the smash success of his self-titled English-language debut in 1999, there was a bit of a backlash against the Puerto Rican sensation following his next release, 2000's Sound Loaded. He even suffered the indignity of William Hung ruining "She Bangs" on American Idol. But after smartly taking extended time off between English-language releases, Martin is back with renewed spirit on Life. Boasting a retooled, refreshed sound, the disc broadens his musical scope beyond Latin pop with hip-hop beats and world-beat textures. Middle Eastern influences are especially evident (part of the album was recorded in Cairo), on tracks like the uplifting title song and the funky first single, "I Don't Care," which gets some rap and R&B juice from Fat Joe and Amerie, respectively. Meanwhile, producer will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas helps Martin dip into reggaeton—the Latin sound of the moment—on the bon-bon shaker "Drop It on Me."

DOWNLOAD THIS: "I Don't Care"

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