“1, 2, 3, 4, 5! Everybody in the car so come on let’s ride!” Rewind just over 15 years to summer 1999 and you would find the UK gripped by Latin fever and a European phenomenon that got everybody on their feet and dancing the old-fashioned way.
And as we prepare for the final of TV’s glitziest talent show Strictly Come Dancing, the Official Charts Company can now confirm that Lou Bega’s monster hit Mambo No. 5 has shimmied its way past the million sales mark.
Lou Bega now takes a seat in one of the most exclusive clubs in British music, as Mambo No. 5 joins only 154 other songs to pass a million sales since the Official Singles Chart began in 1952.
On learning of the news, Lou Bega told OfficialCharts.com:
"It feels great, I’m amazed, I’m really, really amazed. It must be a new generation that discovered it. A British friend told me it is very popular at weddings so maybe that’s why."
But way back in 1999, Lou wasn't even sure it would be a hit. "I remember when I started to write the song, and I finished it, you have a gut feeling you know, and I told myself: either it’s going in the dustbin of history or it will open doors for me – I really remember thinking that very vividly."
Lou Bega’s Mambo No. 5 charted in the last week of August 1999, and heavily sampled the original version of the track, by legendary Perez ‘Prez’ Prado, the “King of Mambo”. Although Perez didn’t have a hit with Mambo No. 5, he’s had three Top 40s of his own, including a Number 1 in 1955 and a return to the Top 10 in the mid Nineties with Guaglione, following its appearance in a Guinness advert.
1999 was the year of the Latin explosion, with Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca and Enrique Iglesias’ Bailamos leading a melodic invasion of swivel-hipped superstars. Bringing up the rear and representing the ladies was Hollywood star-turned-pop princess Jennifer Lopez.
German Lou Bega’s first taste of stardom was a good old traditional holiday hit. Mambo No. 5, which added cheeky lyrics and a roll call through a host of girls’ names, was popular on mainland Europe and, as these catchy tunes always do, soon found popularity with Brits living it up on their hols.
"It speaks lyrically to the inner core which is deep down in our soul,especially in the man in the male psyche," explains Lou. "We live a monogamous life, but somewhere deep down we love to… how can I explain it? We love to see what’s on the market, even if you’re settled down with one person. When we go dancing on the dancefloor it’s like a market – and you can sing it out loudly. It’s a very positive song."
And we have to ask… just who were all those ladies you named in the song?
"Well, I'd say 80% of the girls are real people that I encountered in my life, especially Sandra, Rita and Jessica," says Lou. "I think I just mentioned two names that I never went on dates with… Angela, I guess was not real."
Demand for the track from returning revellers was so high in the UK that Mambo No. 5 initially charted in the Top 40 on sales of import copies alone – peaking at Number 31. Upon full release, the track zoomed straight in at the top of the Official Singles Chart, deposing another Latin-inspired tune by newly solo Spice Girl Geri Halliwell.
Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of…) sold 400,000 copies in its first two weeks on sale, which it spent at Number 1, and went on to be the fourth bestselling single of 1999, shifting over 850,000 copies!
And while it may not be selling as speedily or as vastly as it did in its first year of release, the track still has popular appeal, finally reaching a million copies! But could it be thanks to a primetime TV show?
BBC 1’s dance contest Strictly Come Dancing has helped a new generation discover ballroom dancing and music they might not normally hear on TV on a Saturday night.
Mambo No. 5 has soundtracked backstage scenes and has also featured front-of-house twice – first in 2010 when footballer Peter Shilton danced with partner Erin Boag and most recently just last week when EastEnders star Jake Wood and partner Janette Manrara danced the salsa.
It may be 15 years since he mamboed his way through dates with Monica, Erica, Rita, Tina, Sandra, Mary and Jessica, but Lou Bega is still recording and releasing music.
And Mambo No. 5 is a favourite that Lou still loves to perform.
"I end shows with it, and sometimes it’s hard to make people wait until the end of the show! Even if I have loads of Top 10s, Mambo No 5 will always be the one that once you’ve heard it in your life, you don’t forget it."
And thanks to you, Lou's got a great early Christmas present! "Thank you very much for making it a million-seller in the UK. When I started in the business, I never ever dreamed about the day of million record sales in the UK. It’s just amazing to me! Merry Christmas to you all."
What a top gent!
And the UK wasn’t quite done with Mambo No. 5 yet, either. Animated children’s TV hero Bob the Builder followed up his own million-selling Can We Fix It? with a cover of Mambo No. 5, taking it to Number 1 and selling over 380,000 copies!
The UK's million-selling singles
|YEAR OF RELEASE||TITLE||ARTIST|
|2014||RATHER BE||CLEAN BANDIT|
|2013||LA LA LA||NAUGHTY BOY FT SAM SMITH|
|2013||BLURRED LINES||ROBIN THICKE FT TI & PHARRELL|
|2013||GET LUCKY||DAFT PUNK FT PHARRELL WILLIAMS & NILE RODGERS|
|2013||WAKE ME UP||AVICII|
|2012||LET HER GO||PASSENGER|
|2012||CALL ME MAYBE||CARLY RAE JEPSEN|
|2011||MOVES LIKE JAGGER||MAROON 5 FT CHRISTINA AGUILERA|
|2011||PARTY ROCK ANTHEM||LMFAO FT LAUREN BENNETT AND GOONROCK|
|2011||GIVE ME EVERYTHING||PITBULL FT NE-YO, AFROJACK, NAYER|
|2011||PRICE TAG||JESSIE J FT B.O.B|
|2011||SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW||GOTYE FT KIMBRA|
|2011||SOMEONE LIKE YOU||ADELE|
|2011||THE A TEAM||ED SHEERAN|
|2011||TITANIUM||DAVID GUETTA FT SIA|
|2011||WE ARE YOUNG||FUN FT JANELLE MONAE|
|2011||WE FOUND LOVE||RIHANNA FT CALVIN HARRIS|
|2010||JUST THE WAY YOU ARE (AMAZING)||BRUNO MARS|
|2010||ROLLING IN THE DEEP||ADELE|
|2010||LOVE THE WAY YOU LIE||EMINEM FT RIHANNA|
|2010||ONLY GIRL (IN THE WORLD)||RIHANNA|
|2010||WHEN WE COLLIDE||MATT CARDLE|
|2009||BAD ROMANCE||LADY GAGA|
|2009||FIGHT FOR THIS LOVE||CHERYL COLE|
|2009||I GOTTA FEELING||BLACK EYED PEAS|
|2009||POKER FACE||LADY GAGA|
|2008||SEX ON FIRE||KINGS OF LEON|
|2008||USE SOMEBODY||KINGS OF LEON|
|2007||BLEEDING LOVE||LEONA LEWIS|
|2007||RULE THE WORLD||TAKE THAT|
|2006||CHASING CARS||SNOW PATROL|
|2005||(IS THIS THE WAY TO) AMARILLO||TONY CHRISTIE FT PETER KAY|
|2005||THAT'S MY GOAL||SHAYNE WARD|
|2004||DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS?||BAND AID 20|
|2002||ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE/EVERGREEN||WILL YOUNG|
|2002||UNCHAINED MELODY||GARETH GATES|
|2001||CAN'T GET YOU OUT OF MY HEAD||KYLIE MINOGUE|
|2001||IT WASN'T ME||SHAGGY FT RIKROK|
|2001||PURE AND SIMPLE||HEAR'SAY|
|2001||WHOLE AGAIN||ATOMIC KITTEN|
|2000||CAN WE FIX IT?||BOB THE BUILDER|
|1999||...BABY ONE MORE TIME||BRITNEY SPEARS|
|1999||MAMBO NO.5 (A LITTLE BIT OF…)||LOU BEGA|
|1999||BLUE (DA BA DEE)||EIFFEL 65|
|1998||I DON'T WANT TO MISS A THING||AEROSMITH|
|1998||MY HEART WILL GO ON||CELINE DION|
|1998||NO MATTER WHAT||BOYZONE|
|1997||I'LL BE MISSING YOU||PUFF DADDY & FAITH EVANS|
|1997||IT'S LIKE THAT||RUN-DMC VS JASON NEVINS|
|1997||NEVER EVER||ALL SAINTS|
|1997||PERFECT DAY||VARIOUS ARTISTS|
|1997||SOMETHING ABOUT THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT / CANDLE IN THE WIND '97||ELTON JOHN|
|1997||TELETUBBIES SAY "EH-OH!"||TELETUBBIES|
|1996||2 BECOME 1||SPICE GIRLS|
|1996||KILLING ME SOFTLY||FUGEES|
|1996||THREE LIONS||BADDIEL & SKINNER & LIGHTNING SEEDS|
|1995||BACK FOR GOOD||TAKE THAT|
|1995||EARTH SONG||MICHAEL JACKSON|
|1995||GANGSTA'S PARADISE||COOLIO FT LV|
|1995||I BELIEVE/UP ON THE ROOF||ROBSON & JEROME|
|1995||MYSTERIOUS GIRL||PETER ANDRE FT BUBBLER RANX|
|1995||UNCHAINED MELODY/(THERE'LL BE BLUEBIRDS OVER) THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER||ROBSON GREEN & JEROME FLYNN|
|1994||ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU||MARIAH CAREY|
|1994||LOVE IS ALL AROUND||WET WET WET|
|1994||THINK TWICE||CELINE DION|
|1992||I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU||WHITNEY HOUSTON|
|1991||(EVERYTHING I DO) I DO IT FOR YOU||BRYAN ADAMS|
|1989||RIDE ON TIME||BLACK BOX|
|1988||ESPECIALLY FOR YOU||KYLIE MINOGUE & JASON DONOVAN|
|1987||FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK||POGUES FT KIRSTY MACCOLL|
|1985||THE POWER OF LOVE||JENNIFER RUSH|
|1984||CARELESS WHISPER||GEORGE MICHAEL|
|1984||DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS?||BAND AID|
|1984||GHOSTBUSTERS||RAY PARKER JR.|
|1984||I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU||STEVIE WONDER|
|1984||LAST CHRISTMAS/EVERYTHING SHE WANTS||WHAM!|
|1984||TWO TRIBES||FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD|
|1983||BLUE MONDAY||NEW ORDER|
|1983||KARMA CHAMELEON||CULTURE CLUB|
|1983||RELAX||FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD|
|1983||RED RED WINE||UB40|
|1983||UPTOWN GIRL||BILLY JOEL|
|1982||COME ON EILEEN||DEXY'S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS|
|1982||EYE OF THE TIGER||SURVIVOR|
|1982||THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT||TIGHT FIT|
|1981||DON'T STOP BELIEVIN'||JOURNEY|
|1981||DON'T YOU WANT ME?||HUMAN LEAGUE|
|1981||STAND & DELIVER||ADAM AND THE ANTS|
|1981||TAINTED LOVE||SOFT CELL|
|1979||ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL (PART 2)||PINK FLOYD|
|1979||BRIGHT EYES||ART GARFUNKEL|
|1979||HEART OF GLASS||BLONDIE|
|1979||I WILL SURVIVE||GLORIA GAYNOR|
|1978||HIT ME WITH YOUR RHYTHM STICK||IAN DURY AND THE BLOCKHEADS|
|1978||MARY'S BOY CHILD/OH MY LORD||BONEY M|
|1978||RIVERS OF BABYLON/BROWN GIRL IN THE RING||BONEY M|
|1978||SUMMER NIGHTS||JOHN TRAVOLTA & OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN|
|1978||YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT||JOHN TRAVOLTA & OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN|
|1977||I FEEL LOVE||DONNA SUMMER|
|1977||MULL OF KINTYRE/GIRLS' SCHOOL||WINGS|
|1976||DON'T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA||JULIE COVINGTON|
|1976||DON'T GIVE UP ON US||DAVID SOUL|
|1976||DON'T GO BREAKING MY HEART||ELTON JOHN & KIKI DEE|
|1976||SAVE YOUR KISSES FOR ME||BROTHERHOOD OF MAN|
|1976||UNDER THE MOON OF LOVE||SHOWADDYWADDY|
|1973||I LOVE YOU LOVE ME LOVE||GARY GLITTER|
|1973||MERRY XMAS EVERYBODY||SLADE|
|1973||TIE A YELLOW RIBBON ROUND THE OLE OAK TREE||DAWN FT TONY ORLANDO|
|1972||EYE LEVEL||THE SIMON PARK ORCHESTRA|
|1972||LONG HAIRED LOVER FROM LIVERPOOL||LITTLE JIMMY OSMOND|
|1971||I'D LIKE TO TEACH THE WORLD TO SING||THE NEW SEEKERS|
|1969||SUGAR SUGAR||THE ARCHIES|
|1968||HEY JUDE||THE BEATLES|
|1967||RELEASE ME||ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK|
|1967||THE LAST WALTZ||ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK|
|1966||GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME||TOM JONES|
|1965||THE CARNIVAL IS OVER||THE SEEKERS|
|1965||UNCHAINED MELODY||THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS|
|1964||CAN'T BUY ME LOVE||THE BEATLES|
|1964||I FEEL FINE||THE BEATLES|
|1964||WE CAN WORK IT OUT/DAY TRIPPER||THE BEATLES|
|1963||I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND||THE BEATLES|
|1963||SHE LOVES YOU||THE BEATLES|
|1962||I REMEMBER YOU||FRANK IFIELD|
|1962||THE YOUNG ONES||CLIFF RICHARD & THE SHADOWS|
|1961||STRANGER ON THE SHORE||MR ACKER BILK AND HIS PARAMOUNT JAZZ BAND|
|1960||IT'S NOW OR NEVER||ELVIS PRESLEY|
|1957||MARY'S BOY CHILD||HARRY BELAFONTE|
|1955||(WE'RE GONNA) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK||BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS|
|1942||WHITE CHRISTMAS||BING CROSBY WITH THE KEN DARBY SINGERS AND JOHN SCOTT TROTTER ORCHESTRA|
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