October 09, 2006 12:00 PM

Mario Vazquez
REVIEWED BY ERICKA SÓUTER

POP

Before he bowed out of the American Idol finals last year for personal reasons, Mario Vazquez was one of the favorites to win it all, with his smooth croon and dimpled charm. Still, the Bronx-born singer ended up getting signed by Clive Davis to Arista Records, the same label as last year’s Idol champ Carrie Underwood. The first two cuts on his self-titled debut—the hip-hop-tinged love song “Gallery,” cowritten by Ne-Yo, and the cool groove “I Bet”—display plenty of heartthrob appeal. Not so winning, however, is his attempt to dabble in every genre: The reggae-flecked “4 the One” and faux rap “Fired Up” amount to forgettable filler. But his many supple-voiced ballads are proof that Vazquez is still worthy of a little idol worship.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Gallery”

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