27th June, 1998

Carlos Ponce was an actor, pinup, and singer, in that order; he'd been working in telenovelas since 1990, when he was eighteen, and the fact that it took until 1998 for him to release a debut album suggests that music was neither his first passion nor the most efficient use of his talents.

Or maybe I'm just letting the performance influence my reckoning. There's nothing about it which suggests a distinct musical personality: the dreamy-ballad-into-gospel-swayalong format is cribbed from Ricky Martin, the gruff, limited-range singing (until he finally lets off a single falsetto peal in the outro) is reminiscent of nonsinging actors forced to sing anyway from Richard Harris to Johnny Depp, and the indistinctly anonymous instrumentation that puts him front and center makes it clear that it's not music but showbiz that is really being celebrated here. The gospel choir makes up for his own improvisatory deficiencies and lack of mellifluousness; it's almost as if that was the idea.

The song itself is a glib declaration of love: "Rezo" means "I pray," though the connotation leans more towards the recitation of Catholic prayer than to the impulsive spirit of evangelical prayer. Which may be one way of explaining the poor match between song and style; the entirely secular subject of his prayer is that she love him back, "y que mi vida decores con tus gustos, tus colores" (and decorate my life with your tastes, your colors). It's the kind of thing that would be sweet if sung in a romantic comedy and creepily terrifying in real life. Which is true of most pop, probably; but Ponce's not a strong enough musical actor to sell the idea convincingly.

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