First Hit #1: May 8, 1999
The vanguard of a certain Latin wave that took hold in 1999, Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca might have gotten the worst rap of the lot. Listening to it again after a decade, that’s actually pretty unfair – turns out that this is a pretty decent bit of energetic pop music, with a bit of a dark edge that I had forgot was lurking under the surface – as fun and energetic as the song is, there are a surprising amount of references to suicide and general bad things. But that edge is pretty quickly obscured by Martin’s goofy energy, he’s just blasting through this song, and his band is doing the same. It’s kind of a musical car chase, whatever bad might be referenced in the lyrics, it’s just blasting forward at a steady clip and relying on the pure energy and thrill to keep interest no matter what gets wrecked. It’s Fast 5 rendered in music, and just like Fast 5 it’s much more enjoyable than history would have you expect.
It was played a lot in 1999, enough to effectively kill any good vibes the song should have, but now that we’re long past when the radio wrecked it, I think we can admit that it’s actually a pretty good song in the end. Just maybe don’t play it 10 times a day.