x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Ricky Martin defends JLo and Pitbull over World Cup anthem flap

At the Mawazine Festival in Morocco, Ricky Martin says hooks and simplicity makes up a killer World Cup anthem.

The Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin performs during the 13th music festival Mawazine in Rabat, Morocco on June 6. Fadel Senna / AFP
The Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin performs during the 13th music festival Mawazine in Rabat, Morocco on June 6. Fadel Senna / AFP

Ricky Martin has delved into the controversy surrounding the official World Cup anthem by defending the performers Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull.

Speaking from Morocco’s Mawazine Festival last week, the Puerto Rican pop star said he has “mad respect” for both fellow Latin American artists who are being pilloried for the tournament’s official lead song We Are One (Ole Ola).

The track received such a lacklustre response from football fans that a trending hashtag #VoltaWakaWaka was created on Twitter as a plea to reuse Shakira 2010s World Cup song for this year’s edition instead.

While choosing not to address We Are One (Ole Ola) itself, Martin praised the talents of Lopez and Pitbull.

“I love Jennifer and I respect what Pitbull does,” he said.

“For the last few years, he has been bringing all this joy around the world and this is something that we should not forget.”

Martin has a long association with the popular sporting tournament, having sung the 1998 World Cup anthem Cup of Life.

The song was an immediate hit and propelled the 42-year-old from leading Latin artist to a bona fide global pop-star.

For this year’s tournament, Martin is back with the new footballing ode Vida, recently released as a single from the official World Cup album.

The track came from an online songwriting competition SuperSong, launched last December by the record label Sony Music Entertainment, with the winning entry to be performed by Martin.

As SuperSong’s lead judge, Martin said Vida has all the successful elements of a World Cup anthem.

“I listened to about 1,600 songs and I would close my eyes and look for a vision of a stadium singing the song and chanting the hooks – for me that is the most important thing,” he said.

“If you listen to the hooks of Vida, you can see people chanting and dancing. It is a very easy and catchy song, regardless of your mother tongue. I believe that is key.”

A big football fan, Martin said he is trying to convince the producers of The Voice Australia, where he is presently a coach, to grant him time off to jet off to Brazil and catch a few matches.

“I really wish I can go,” he said.

“I have been asking the producers to please, give me three days to go to Brazil and attend the World Cup. Let’s see how it goes.”

One Love, One Rhythm – The 2014 Fifa World Cup Official Album is out now through Sony Music Entertainment.

sasaeed@thenational.ae