Shake It To The Left! Shake It To The Right!

Martin is a skilled hula hooper.

You had probably never heard of Ricky Martin before this year's Grammy

Awards, but ever since then people have been acting like they loved this

ex-Menudo singer all along. He has all the makings of a star, with the looks

of a soap opera actor (he had a stint on "General Hospital") and the ability to

slide back and forth between his role as a hip-shaking stud-muffin

and ballad-singing lover.

Unfortunately, on his first English record, Ricky downplays what makes

him so great (i.e., the polyrhythmic spazz-outs of "Livin' La Vida Loca"

[RealAudio excerpt], "The Cup of Life" and "Love You for a Day"

[RealAudio excerpt]) by emphasizing his ballads.

Granted, we all need ballads -- in small doses they're like "heaven,"

they're "almost paradise" and they give me "something to believe in,"

especially when I'm "headed for heartbreak" and "can't fight this feeling,"

and when I ask myself "is this love?" But folks like Warrant, Poison,

Winger and Whitesnake were onto something when they established the

perfect 5:1 rocker-to-ballad ratio.

With six power ballads ("She's All I Ever Had"

[RealAudio excerpt], "Be Careful," "I Am Made of You," "Private Emotion,"

"I Count the Minutes" and "Bella") and one wimpy, Stingesque, powerless

ballad ("You Stay With Me"), Ricky's ratio is exactly 1:1! Granted, this

is an improvement over last year's Vuelve, on which he actually

dipped below a 1:1. But when the silly surf guitar and percussive

playfulness of "Livin' La Vida Loca" and the rump-shaking action of

"Love You For a Day" can throw booties into a frenzied loco-motion, I

don't see how he could even think twice about singing some of the

above-mentioned dreck. I believe he'd agree with me, especially because

I don't think when Ricky named one of his new songs "Shake Your Bon-Bon"

he was thinking of candy.

I'd encourage Ricky to keep this anagram in mind: while ballads

aren't all bad, don't overindulge (I guess the bonbon reference

fits better here) or you'll end up like Michael Bolton (all bloated and

sugary).