Robi Draco Rosa is a divided man. He wrote “Livin’ la Vida Loca” and “She Bangs,” but he also made Vagabundo, one of U.S. rock en español’s smacked-out classics. In the video for “Más y Más,” he’s the scruffy street singer in black, but he’s also the preppy pop puff pastry in all whites. He wants hits and cred; he’s horny and courtly; his song titles refer to Frankie Valli and INXS; he’s a “Solitary Man” who wants to go “Dancing in the Rain”; he is all of us.
It’s not true, as some maintain, that Mad Love‘s songs have no hooks—actually, they have too many, jostling around, burying each other. Martial horns would be the whole focus elsewhere, but in “Lie Without a Lover,” they’re afterthoughts. Stretch “Mad Love” out over seven minutes and trick it out with a Van Dyke Parks faux-Zep string orgy! Two great hair-metal anthems! Hell yeah!
Robi Rosa thinks too much, tries too hard, piles each song high with texture whether or not it makes sense. He can’t let go of anything, and he can’t let himself go.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 25, 2004