Saturday, September 4, 1999

Lou Bega “Mambo No. 5” hit #1 in UK

Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of…)

Lou Bega

Writer(s): Dámaso Pérez Prado, Lou Bega, Zippy Davids (see lyrics here)

Released: April 19, 1999

First Charted: August 7, 1999

Peak: 3 US, 15 RR, 26 AC, 2 A40, 12 UK, 111 CN, 18 AU, 8 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.15 UK, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.3 radio, 478.5 video, 402.23 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Pérez Prado was a Cuban bandleader who popularized the mambo in the 1950s. He even topped the US and UK charts with a cover of “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” in 1955. In the mid-‘90s, his music was embraced by “the rejectionists and crate-diggers of post-industrial music” FT who discovered his music in charity shops and thrift stores. A compilation assembled by curator Irwin Chusid included some of Prado’s mambo recordings, helping the music cross back into the “semi-mainstream becoming mainstays of the ‘spage age pop’ compilations and easy listening clubs that sprung up in the mid-90s.” FT

Amidst a love affair with Latin music in 1999, the United States saw Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Igleasias, and Carlos Santana all soar to the top of the charts. In Europe, the German-born Lou Bega born to one parent from Uganda and another from Italy became an unlikely revivalist of Prado’s music. The singer, rapper, and trumpeter released a cover of Prado’s “Mambo No. 5,” an instrumental originally written in 1949. It became a #1 hit in Germany and then imports started selling in the UK and after it was released officially it went to #1. It had similar success throughout Europe, most notably in France where it spent 20 weeks at #1. In the United States, it was his only top-40 hit, reaching #3.

The song wasn’t a straight remake. “Whatever suavity and quiet confidence the mambos of the 40s and 50s exuded are of no interest to Lou Bega.” KT He refashions the song into “a sort of mock-Latin Benny Hill, rasping and chuckling his way through his list of ladies.” KT all of whom he claimed to have been actual old flames. KL The newly-added lyrics and ‘80s style synthesizers showed “he had a devilish ear for what would make an office party swing.” KT Science even deterimined it to be one of “the most catchy songs ever.” KT Bega said, “Mambo makes you happy, Latin music makes you happy. It’s sexual, it’s erotic, energetic; I think that’s the point.” SF

The song became the subject of a copyright trial with the Federal Court of Justice of Germany ultimately ruling it was a song written by Prado and Bega.


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Lou Bega
  • FT Freaky Trigger (11/26/2014). “Popular” by Tom Ewing
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh. (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits. Omnibus Press: London, UK. Pages 486-7.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 10/22/2022.

No comments:

Post a Comment