The pugilist as crooner

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Could Oscar de la Hoya kick my fat, nerdy ass if I give his album a bad review? Of course, he can.

But you couldn’t tell that by listening to Oscar de la Hoya, the album. Helmed by Ricky Martin’s producer, de la Hoya’s first steps out of the boxing ring and onto the pop star stage is a safe, radio-friendly collection of grand, weepy ballads and Latin rhythm-driven dance tracks.

It’s a calculated attempt to woo de la Hoya’s female fan base (and maybe more than a few gay male admirers) into more intense fits of hormone-driven hysteria. And dammit if it works.

With most of the album’s tracks sung in Spanish, de la Hoya successfully translates his sex appeal into music. He can be forgiven if his choice in songwriters tends to be unchallenging — the net effect of his ballad crooning on a person’s libido is what matters in the end.

To be perfectly crass, de la Hoya has made some pretty good fuck music.

News of de la Hoya’s record contract signing was met with the usual reaction when sports superstars muscle in on other branches of entertainment — doubt and dismissal. Just take a look at Kobe Bryant’s music career. Don’t see one? That’s the point.

But de la Hoya really does have a pleasant voice, and that’s not my libido typing. He won’t give Justin Timberlake or JC Chasev any sleepless nights, but I bet Oscar kicks much posterior at a karoke party.

There are some moments where de la Hoya’s album gets a bit too calculated. The Diane Warren-penned “With These Hands” is every bit as pompous as a Diane Warren song can get, and “Para Amarti” opens with the same kind of horns and rhythms that rejuvinated Santana’s career and launched Rob Thomas’.

Those missteps aside, Oscar de la Hoya is entertaining. No, it’s not art, and quite frankly, the idea of de la Hoya wrapping his middle class-appealing voice around, say, rock ‘n’ roll is actually a bit disturbing.

So leave him to his ballads for now. Oscar can handle them.

Footnotes: Look carefully at the track listing. The evidently superstitious de la Hoya has forsaken track number 13 and labeled it 14. Oh, and the pictures in the CD booklet are nice.