Menudo – “Reaching Out” (1984)

The Puerto Rican boy band sings in English with Menudo Reaching Out for the first time

Menudo’s first English album, Reaching Out was released at the beginning of 1984. They introduced their first fully bilingual member, Robby Rosa, who was born in New York. While Robby wasn’t the first Menudo member to be born outside Puerto Rico, he was the first to speak English pretty much without a thick accent. They made him the spokesperson for the group with the English speaking countries.

Fans in the US got their first taste of Menudo in English a year and two members earlier while Miguel and Johnny were still members. When Menudo began their quest for US domination, they began performing three of the songs from this album. Miguel sang lead on the song he made famous, “Gimme Rock.” He also sang “Motorcycle Dreamer” instead of Ricky Melendez like we are used to hearing. And on the infamous Silver Spoons episode, Ricky Melendez sang “Gotta Get On Movin’.” During that time, Ricky and Miguel gave most of the interviews in English.

Menudo Reaching Out was up against Madonna and Duran Duran at the time of release.

Most of the tracks from this album were translations of previous Menudo songs, except one. The group recorded the first new song, “Like A Cannonball,” which became a moderate hit in the US. It didn’t make a splash as they hoped. The video made a small rotation on the video channel, MTV, and could rarely be heard on the radio. The song did get used and featured in the sequel, Cannonball Run 2 with Burt Reynolds. I remember going to Tower Records at that time and seeing they had a 12″ EP and 7″ single of the album. Oddly, the song “Like A Cannonball” was written by a famous country music writer, Milton Brown. Along with touches from Steve Dorff, a television theme songwriter, and Snuff Garrett, who had a strong presence in the music industry in the ’70s, made the song what it is today.

Back in the day, any Menudo fan living in the states probably thought this album was the best thing ever. For pop music standards at the time, Menudo Reaching Out was kid’s music not teen music. Teenagers were listening to Madonna’s Like A Virgin and Duran Duran’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger. That music wasn’t singing lyrics that read like a Dr. Seuss novel or even: “I got no explanation, even lost my sense of direction, can’t tell pears from apples…” Sadly, Menudo’s lyrics translated from Spanish to English didn’t help get Menudo the kind of airplay they should have had based on their popularity. Menudo didn’t go a day without being on the cover of every teen magazine and fans didn’t care that to critics, Menudo was a joke at the time.

Robby Rosa helped bring Menudo Reaching Out to a larger audience with his bilingual skills

Meh, we loved Menudo and who cared. The album is what it is: A stepping stone to the next English album. Tell us your favorite Menudo album… and let us know what you thought about Menudo Reaching Out?

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