Song 40 – Mambo No. 5

SONG: Mambo No. 5

ARTIST: Perez Prado

YEAR: 1950

Listen to it here: 


There is little information on the composition of Mambo Number 5, just that it was written by Perez Prado in 1949 and released in 1950.


Damaso Perez Prado, AKA the King of Mambo was born December 11, 1916 in Matanzas, Cuba.  He grew up learning classical piano, organ, and how to arrange pieces, which helped him become a proficient band leader.  In 1949 he moved to Mexico where he focused more on the mambo and gained a lot of popularity due to how fiery his band was and a trademark grunt in the middle of songs.  In the 1950s Prado saw a lot of success in the US, thanks to the mambo craze, and he gained fame with such hits as Mambo Number 5, Mambo Number 8 and Patricia.  

When the mambo fad faded in the US, Prado’s popularity in Latin American did not – he continued to tour Mexico, South America and Japan to packed houses.  The last 2 years of his life saw his health decline and he passed of a stroke on September 14, 1989.


Legendary Italian filmmaker Frederico Fellini used Prado’s song Patricia twice in his 1960 classic La Dolce Vita.

There was a seven year legal battle between Lou Bega, who used a clip of Prado’s recording in the last 30 seconds of his version, and Prado’s estate.  Eventually Prado’s estate won and Lou Bega’s version is now listed as ‘co-written’ with Perez Prado.


Ladies and gentlemen, this is mambo number 5…wait.  When I saw this song on the list I was like, hooooold on.  But it turns out that only a portion of this Mambo Number 5 made its way into the Lou Bega 1999 version that we all hate yet somehow know most of the lyrics.  Anyway, I kind of dig it!  I really like dance-y latin music, and this song definitely makes me mambo around the house!  Or whatever mambo is supposed to look like.  It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s definitely a bit of fun!  Can we talk about how shitty this band is though?  Or at least the brass section!  They are not in tune and you can tell the trumpets are getting tired by the end of the song as there are a ton of cacks!  Although I like this song, I’m sure there’s better examples of good mambo out there.  A little bit of Monica in my life…goddamn it.


Well, I had no idea that this was a thing before 1992 or whenever the Lou Bega version of this song was made. Some notable things about this song: first, it’s the first purely instrumental track we’ve listened to, second, it somehow seems to lag in energy. I’m not sure how. The percussion seems energetic and exciting, but the rest of the band, especially the saxophones, sound a bit lackluster. It’s interesting that we’re still in a time where editing technology isn’t at a point where we can easily correct tuning issues, and trumpet cacks, but there’s something beyond that which is holding me back from liking this, and I really think it’s not that it reminds me of the Lou Bega version of Mambo No. 5. It might also be the lack of a melody. It’s like one long development. I love this style of music, and I want to like this so much more than I do! 

Average mark out of 10:

Holly: 5/10

Kelly: 6.5

Other notable versions of this song:

I’m so sorry….

Listen with us!

Link to 1,001 Songs to Hear Before You Die spotify playlist:

Published by Kelly

What I like: Music, travel, coffee, beer, makeup and photography! My gear: Canon EOS 60D and 18-200mm lens. Where call home: Vancouver, BC, Canada Photography Experience: Very amateurish.

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