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De La Hoya Packs a Pop Punch

The boxer enters a new ring and turns out to be a real contender in a field where Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias are the champs.

*** OSCAR DE LA HOYA "Oscar De La Hoya" EMI Latin

October 08, 2000|ERNESTO LECHNER

Although he has spent a great part of his life beating up people for a living, Oscar De La Hoya has always harbored dreams of singing tender ballads of romantic love.

That's what the boxing hero confesses in the liner notes of his debut album, and in a turn of events that is downright surreal in its unexpectedness, the former welterweight champion has delivered a perfectly respectable, undeniably legitimate collection of Latin pop. The collection (due in stores Tuesday) is as professional and palatable as anything released in the last five years by the stars in the field. That might say more about the state of the genre than De La Hoya's talents, but his vocal chops and personality are at least a match for those of Ricky Martin or Enrique Iglesias.

Within the vibrant kaleidoscope of Latin American music, this is not exactly the most innovative of styles, but you have to admire De La Hoya's smarts. Surrounded by a team of vocal coaches and deluxe producer Rudy Perez (Christina Aguilera), he finds inspiration in the trends of the moment (the beginning of "Para Amarte" sounds like an outtake from Santana's "Supernatural" sessions), and encounters the perfect hit single in Spanish and English renditions of the Bee Gees' "Run to Me," whose chorus is so irresistibly hummable that even the most rabid pop detractors might succumb to its vintage charms. (The album includes two other songs in English.)

Now that he has taken a firm step toward establishing his credibility as a performer, De La Hoya should look to the future with confidence and experiment to his heart's content.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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