Billboard– Twenty years ago, Ricky Martin was just mapping out how to become an international superstar, especially after the great success of “Maria.” He was in the middle of tours and at the same time recording his album Vuelve.
Suddenly, a call changed everything: FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association) wanted him to create the 1998 World Cup theme song, which eventually turned out to be “The Cup of Life” (in Spanish “La Copa de la Vida”), released March 9, 1998, and the official anthem for the soccer tournament.
“I have to admit that the challenge made me a bit nervous, but the massive growth potential for my career was such that I decided to accept,” Martin wrote about the call in his official biography, titled Me. After the decision, Martin got together with K. C. Porter, Robi Rosa and Desmond Child and immediately started working on the song. “It was a unique opportunity to introduce the charms of Latin music to the rest of the world.”
So how did the song change the game for Martin? See the track’s many achievements below:
Billboard Latin Charts: “La Copa de la Vida” peaked at No. 2 on Hot Latin Songs(his eighth of 27 top 10s), No. 2 on Latin Airplay (fifth of 26 top 10s) and No. 3 on Tropical Airplay (fourth of 18 top 10s).
Billboard mainstream charts: “The Cup of Life” originally peaked at No. 60 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1998 but re-entered the chart and got up to No. 45 in August 1999. Similarly, the song became a pop airplay hit during the late summer of 1999, peaking at No. 18 on the Pop Songs chart.
Worldwide achievements: Martin performed “Cup of Life” at the FIFA World Cup in France on July 12, 1998.
The song became an instant hit worldwide, hitting the charts in more than 60 countries. He performed the song at many live shows, including the MTV Awards in Asia.
Opening doors: Getting the attention of all mainstream media
After his performance at the World Cup in France, Martin got the attention of mainstream media. But the most memorable moment is his 1999 Grammys performance and winning the Grammy in best Latin pop performance category.
It would open the door for another big hit the following year, “Livin’ la Vida Loca” also by recorded by Ricky Martin. It was released on March 23, 1999, from Martin’s self-titled debut English-language album (he had previously released several albums in Spanish). The song was composed by Desmond Child and Draco Rosa and topped the charts during 1999. La vida loca is Spanish for “the crazy life.” It sold over 8 million copies, making it one of the best selling singles of all time.