Cat Cohen's Anatomy of a Hit a Hit in 1999

Living La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin

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Ricky Martin's blockbuster dance hit successfully crossed over salsa and 60s rock to launch the first wave of the "Latin Invasion" of pop at the end of the 90s.

Song: Living La Vida Loca
Artist: Ricky Martin
Album: Ricky Martin
Songwriter: Robi Rosa, Desmond Child
Producer: Robi Rosa, Desmond Child

This anthem-like recording describes a crazy and passionate partying lifestyle with no holds barred.

A story lyric filled with wild and crazy superstitious imagery of being caught up in a hot affair with no control over it.

8th note straight ahead rock groove in verse alternates with 8th note heavily syncopated salsa figures, especially in melody, predominant in pre-hook and chorus.

Minor scales, both 7-tone in the melody and rock minor pentatonic scale guitar fills, are used to color both Latin and rock styles. The melodic motion is mostly stepwise in the verse and pre-hook and very monotone in the chorus with a modest range, less than an octave. The phrasing is short in the verse, long in the prehook, and medium in the chorus.

Mostly triadic with the verse all on the tonic or I chord. The prehook ramps up with a diatonic iv v bVI bVII V progression. The chorus alternates between i and bVI chords. All three song sections have simple but contrasting harmonic structures.

A three-part song form with largest contrast in the pre-hook inserted between verse and chorus

An instrumental riff that is also used in the verse accompaniment.

Fast paced dance tempo echoes the wildness in the lyrics. The '60s go-go style guitar riffs combine a rock element with an up-tempo 8th salsa feel and Latin orchestra horn figures.

Martin is on fire as the quintessential hot latin lover. Both his vocal and his dance moves in the video of this recording are as good as it gets.

Predicted Longevity
Livin' La Vida Loca has all the classic elements of a pop hit that should last for years; a strong hook, concept and groove. It epitomizes the transition to the twenty-first century for many people, a time when gypsy-like passion and craziness became big on the pop charts.

Album Cover: Ricky Martin

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