1001 Songs Challenge,  1950s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #40: Mambo No. 5 (1950)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!


Perez Prado – Mambo No. 5 (1950)

Mambo No. 5

” Mambo No. 5″ is an instrumental mambo and jazz dance song originally composed and recorded by Cuban musician Dámaso Pérez Prado in 1949 and released the next year. The song was used in German artist Lou Bega’s sampling of the last 30 seconds of the original, released under the same name on Bega’s 1999 debut album A Little Bit of Mambo .

Lyrics (via Genius)


We end our long stay in the US today and take the short flight to Cuba where we take in some mambo, a Cuban form of dance music. Today’s host is Perez Prado who was born in Cuba but ended up moving to Mexico to form a band where he later became known as the King of Mambo. His song is Mambo No. 5 which will likely be familiar to those who enjoyed 1990s popular music.

The song itself doesn’t have many lyrics. It is mostly about the music with the frequent grunts of Prado as the melody flows. In the latter half of the song there are a handful of words sung repeatedly which translate to “Yes, yes, yes, I want mambo.” Very simple and not much in the way of lyrical depth but with the music here words aren’t overly important.

Prado’s song was very popular in its day but in 1999 it became a worldwide hit when Lou Bega sampled 30 seconds from the original and came up with a new song also entitled Mambo No. 5. Legal battles would ensue between Lou Bega and Prado’s estate with the ultimate conclusion being that although a new song had been written it was to be credited to both Bega and Prado.


Favourite song so far:

Edith Piaf – La Vie en Rose (1946)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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