Channel Awesome
Mambo No. 5


Date Aired
Spetember 16, 2021
Running Time
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Todd plays "Mambo No. 5" on the piano.

A one-hit retrospective


Todd: I can't believe I haven't done this one yet.

Music video for "Mambo No. 5"

Todd (VO): Ladies and gentlemen, this is One-Hit Wonderland, where we take a look at bands and artists known only for one song.

Todd: And today, we are once again going to party [footage from ABC Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve] like it's 1999. The last good year.

Montage of music videos for Britney Spears - "...Baby One More Time"; Eminem- "My Name Is"; blink-182 - "All the Small Things"; The Offspring- "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy); Mariah Carey- "Heartbreaker"; and Smash Mouth - "All Star"

Todd (VO): Now, I've talked before about what a towering year 1999 is in pop culture. To me, it's not even really part of the '90s, or even a measurement of time at all. It's more like its own separate genre of music. Not necessarily a good genre, but certainly a distinct one. A genre of street parties, brightly-colored music videos, and an endless supply of almost obnoxiously happy energy.

Todd: And today, we are gonna look at maybe the most 1999 song ever made.

Music video for "Mambo No. 5"

Lou Bega: Ladies and gentlemen, this is Mambo Number 5

Lou Bega: A little bit of Monica in my life
A little bit of Erica by my side

Todd: To think, we once lived in a world where "Mambo No. 5" didn't exist.

Todd (VO): Even for the genre free-for-all of the late '90s, this was an odd one out.

Todd: Mambo? Seriously?

Todd (VO): There was no reason to expect a mambo song to get big, but "Mambo No. 5" was simply too much of an earworm to be denied.

Todd: If you have been alive at any point in the past 22 years, you probably know this song back to front.

Over clips from the video and of live performances of the song

Todd (VO): And you can blame that entirely on the energy of its singer, a mystery man in a fedora named Lou Bega. He danced, he mugged, he sort of quasi-rapped. And somehow, he redefined mambo for a new generation.

Todd: Like, someone just says the word "mambo" and you're not generally going to think of [clip of performance by...] Tito Puente or anyone from the '50s. No, the first notes that pop into your head are [Todd imitates the beginning of the song vocally.]

Todd (VO): Not to say that this is a particularly respectful entry into the mambo genre. Some will tell you it's the worst song of all time. But love it or hate it---and for the record, I'm not really fond of this song at all---you couldn't stop it. It was a massive worldwide smash, and it still basically is.

Todd: It has barely faded at all since the '90s, and that deserves some respect.

Todd (VO): So we're gonna do a deep dive on Mr. Bega, the walking anachronism with an alleged string of ladies in his wake.

Todd: [putting on a fedora] So let's put a little bit of Lou Bega in our lives.

Lou Bega: Let me jump in and send in the trumpets
A little bit of-

Before the hit

Todd: Why don't we start way back?

Vintage footage of a man biking in a ruined city, then various scenes from Latin American city life, buildings, and dances

Todd (VO): Okay, in the mid-to-late 1940s, most of the world was basically rubble. One of the few places on Earth not blown to shit during the war was Latin America, and so for a little while there, this whole area was very hot. Brazil, South America, the Caribbean were the source of all the trendiest fashions and styles, and especially music. The Rumba, the Tango, and then the Mambo.

Closing tag song: Metlmeta - "Mambo No. Honk"

"Mambo No. 5" is owned by Ariola Records
This video is owned by me