Makes Me Wonder: Lou Bega

In an extension of my "Back In the Day" posts, I will be including in a "One Hit Wonder" post each week (hopefully -- if life doesn't get in the way first!). Music history is rife with artists who have one or two huge hits, and then disappear from public view entirely. 1999 was no different, and now that it is ten years into our memory, we can take a look back and wonder with reason: where are they now?

A little song called "Mambo No. 5" was one of the biggest songs of 1999. Whether you loved it or couldn't stand it is a matter of your own opinion, but for a split second, Lou Bega was primed to possibly have a very successful career. But once his "Mambo" became more of a gimmick than a legit pop song, a "Macarena" rather than a "My Heart Will Go On" if you will, his label as a One Hit Wonder was pretty much cemented.

Irregardless, the song went to #1 in the UK, Holland, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, New Zealand and Australia, making it the 2nd most successful song chartwise of the year per Billboard Magazine (#1 was Britney Spears' "...Baby, One More Time"). Despite the semi-misogynistic lyrics, the song had a bouncy cha cha feel that made it instantly recognizable and completely distinct on the radio. It sampled Perez Prado's "Mambo" almost entirely with new lyrics, which led to a slight controversy among latin music fans.

Despite his undeniable status as a One Hit Wonder to the pop community thanks to his big debut single, Bega has continued the pursuit of his career. He released his sophomore album, Ladies and Gentleman, in 2001, and a third, Lounatic, in 2005.

As tired as I was of the song back in 1999, the thought of it now is almost nostalgia of my past -- of middle school, of friends, of joking in the lunch room. I can't begin to tell you why. But it's one of those songs that just stick with you, despite its innately gimmick feel.


2 comments

Poster Girl said...

That last paragraph sums up a lot of what I feel about the song--it's so intrinsically linked to certain memories for me that I couldn't help but smile when I actually heard it over spring break (after I got over my shock...though that particular shock was replaced a few moments later with another one when I realized I could still sing all the words of the chorus. Apparently the past decade hasn't happened!).

Paul said...

It was rather catchy and brilliant at the time, i must admit :) Then a bootleg version came out with snippets of dialogue in the chorus from cult ozzie drama Prisoner Cell Block H and it was marvelous all over again!

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