Lately it seems like Ricky Martin is everywhere, and it’s giving us serious ’90s nostalgia.
But we also can’t help wondering where he’s been for the last decade or so. Martin was one of the most successful musicians on the planet in the early 2000s, but it feels like he dropped off the face of the Earth just a few years later.
As it turns out, that’s not too far from the truth.
While most Americans were introduced to Martin by his debut English-language album Ricky Martin, his career actually stretches back to when he was just 9 years old. After appearing in TV commercials in Puerto Rico, Martin became one of the members of the historic Latino boy band Menudo.
Menudo made Martin a star, but he also says the band “stole his childhood,” with tight schedules and almost no freedom.
But in the ’90s, Martin set out on his own and made a name for himself as an actor and a singer. He was a rare crossover: an actor so successful on Mexican TV that he landed a job on the American sitcom Getting By.
After the show was cancelled, Martin played Miguel Morez (a Puerto Rican singer, of course) on General Hospital, and perfomed in Les Miserables on Broadway.
Martin’s real big break came when he returned his focus to music. His hit album Vuelve earned him a chance to perform at the 1999 Grammy Awards, and his performance of “The Cup of Life” made him an instant star.
Martin’s next album Ricky Martin, his first English record, went on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time, moving more than 22 million copies. In fact, the album’s hit single, “Livin’ la Vida Loca,” sold 8 million copies on its own.
So why did it seem like Martin suddenly vanished in the 2000s? It turns out he actually did.
Martin went on to release more hit albums in 2000, 2003, and 2005, and also criss-crossed he world performing his music to huge crowds.
But by 2007, Martin was looking to take a break from the music industry to focus on his personal life. After wrapping up his Black and White tour with a show at Madison Square Garden, Martin said goodbye to the music industry for three years.
That time featured a lot of big changes in Martin’s life, but no new music (except for greatest hits records).
First, he became the father to two twin boys, Matteo and Valentino, by a surrogate mother. Then, Martin confirmed the rumors that had followed him for decades by admitting he was gay on his website.
“I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man,” the singer wrote in 2010. “I am very blessed to be who I am.”
But when Martin started making music again in 2010, he wasn’t the big name in America that he had been a decade earlier. Of course, he still sold out shows around the world, and his new albums charted well, but for the most part a new generation of Latin pop stars had replaced him on the American airwaves.
Martin was actually getting more attention in Australia, where he became one of the hosts of The Voice Australia for three seasons. The singer also worked on Mexico’s version of the reality show, and behind the scenes on other TV programs in Latin America.
But the fact is, Martin has never really left the spotlight at all. He actually won a second Grammy in 2015 for Best Latin Album, which proves his continued popularity in the Spanish-speaking world.
Just last year, his song “Vente Pa’Ca” with Colombian singer Maluma became a viral hit. Right now, their video has more than a billion views on YouTube.
But it is true that Martin has been getting more attention lately. He’s getting ready for a dramatic return to television in the next season of American Crime Story, and his sneaky marriage announcement took everyone by surprise.
It just goes to show that you get never count Martin out – just when you think this singer is old news, he manages to surprise you.
Did you know he was still making music?