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The success story of Mambo No. 5

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Mambo No. 5

Mambo No. 5 (A little bit of …) is the most successful German pop production of all time.

The title became number 1 in more than 20 countries.
Around 14 million sound recordings were sold worldwide.

For its 20th anniversary, Unicade Music, the company of producer Goar B, tells the story behind the song.

Latin, Rap und Pop im perfekten Mix

The roots of the genesis of Mambo No. 5 (A little bit of …) go back to the year 1996. Because German radio wasn’t yet ready for rap music, Goar B had the idea of a new, melodic rap style.

Fascinated by Carlos Santana, the producer and guitarist had discovered the South American music for himself early on. Inspired by this, Goar B decided to realise his ideas of melodic rap in the context of a Latin-Pop project. MORE about GOAR B

The genesis of Goar's Latin Projekt

In 1996 Goar B already produced in the genre of Hip Hop in Germany, but had to realize:

“At the time, the Hip Hop genre was not accapted on the German radio. I remember the sneaky argument of radio editors that rap is a narrative and not music. “

In order to have a chance on the radio, Goar B came up with the idea of a “melodic rap” and decided to give it a shot with David Lubega.

“At some point, David tried to sing around in the studio for fun, so I asked him if he wanted to write songs and sing. Then he laughed and said he was not a singer but a rapper and also played no instrument like me, with whom he could write songs and commented humorously, he could . “

Goar B brought his two contracted artists Lou Bega and Zippy together to work with them on his new Latin project.

“As a guitarist, I really liked Santana and thus found access to Latin.”

David Lubega becomes Lou Bega

For his new music concept, Goar B engaged the as yet unknown rapper David Lubega and Christian (“Zippy”) Pletschacher, who was responsible for implementing the sound on the computer. Several songs originated in this style, including the track “Mambo no. 5 ” in the summer of 1998.

As an artistic producer, Goar B did not just dictate the musical line; he also developed the image and style concept of Lou Bega. To this day, the singer is known for appearances in the 50s-style suit and with his hat, escorted by Brazilian dancers. In addition, Goar B invented the artist name „Lou Bega“ based on the surname of David Lubega. MORE ABOUT LOU BEGA

Goar B & David Lubega

Within his music project „Balibu“, Goar supported, the young DJ Olé Wierk (better known as one of the two masterminds behind Groove Coverage) since 1996 and engaged the, at this time unknown rapper, called David Lubega (later known as Lou Bega) for a rap-part in the song “Let’s come together”. The Track was released in 1997 by East West Records/Warner Music

Goar B then had the new idea for a Latin project, a combination of old trumpet samples with modern beats. In particular, Goar B had the idea of a special novel melodic rap, which could also have better chanches for the radio airplay. He asked if David wanted to join the project. After that, David signed to Goar.

Goar B & Zippy

In 1997 Goar B also collaborated with a hip-hop formation called „Die 5 Freunde“ (i.e. The 5 Friends). „Zippy“ (Christian Königseder) was the group member, who expecially works with music programs on the computer.

After the rap group “The 5 Friends” split up, Zippy asked if Goar B could work with him und learn from Goar Bs long experience. So Goar B signed Zippy and coached him over nearly 2 years in songwriting.

A tribute to the king of Mambo

With the new title “Mambo No. 5 (A little bit of …)” Goar B used a trumpet sample from the old instrumental title “Mambo No. 5” by Pérez Prado from the 40s, which does not contain any sung melodies or lyrics.

As a tribute to this legendary mambo musician, Goar B called the title “Mambo No. 5 (A little bit of …)” because he used “a bit” of Prado in the new song. This occasionally led to the false assumption that it was a cover of the old instrumental. The correct addition “A little bit of …” (with which the title is also registered with the GEMA) was mostly omitted by the media.

More about the genesis of the song

Pérez Prado, the “King of the Mambo”, composed “his” Mambo No. 5 in 1949. There are myths on how Prado’s instrumental piece was discovered more than 20 years ago for the “Global Hit Made in Germany”. The truth is less glamorous and does not play in Miami, but in Munich: Goar B, artistic producer and mastermind of the “new” Mambo No. 5, listened to Prado’s instrumental piece as a record company searched for a Latin track for the film “The Strange Behaviour of Sexually Mature City Slickers at Mating Season” (“Das merkwürdige Verhalten geschlechtsreifer Großstädter zur Paarungszeit”).

Shortly thereafter, the producer decided to reference a short brass section in a new title – A little bit of Mambo No. 5: the precise track title of the later global success Mambo No. 5 (A little bit of …), a homage to the king of the mambo, was born. Apart from the fact that only a small sequence at the beginning of Pérez Prado’s instrumental remains in the global smash hit Mambo No. 5 (A little bit of …), and otherwise the verse and refrain melody including lyrics are new, everyone can form their own opinion when watching the video of the classic on YouTube.

Mambo No. 5 becomes no. 1

We probably wouldn’t know Mambo No. 5 today if Goar B had been less stubborn: only after nine months and more than 40 meetings with record companies, he received a pledge from the new BMG sublabel “Lautstark”.

After the release of the single on 19 April 1999, the success was unstoppable: just two weeks later Mambo No. 5 reached number 1! The title remained at the top of the German charts for 17 weeks, selling 1.7 million singles in Germany.

Goar B with the record labels

Goar B Originally produces the Song for a film. Read more HERE

Mambo No.5 (A Little Bit Of) was not selected for the movie.
After over 40 A&R-Meetings in 8 months, my appointment with Peter Meisel at the Label Lautstark finally found commitment. Lautstark was a Sublabel of BMG Berlin. Peter Meisel, the A&R consultant of Lautstark, presented the song to the managing director Andy Selleneit, who recognised the hit potential and signed my track „Mambo No 5“ with me as the music producer and leading creative mind of the projekt. The artist Lou Bega was and remained under contract with me.

Andy believed in the song and in my vision. He supported my ideas in an exceptionally way, in terms of encouraging decisiveness as well as financial assistance. The first music video for „Mambo No 5“ was made by a BMG marketing manager, contrary to my suggestions. I’ll never forget the call from Andy after the first music video, in which he gave me a second high budget for filming my own video idea under my responsibility. This is the only version known by public until now. In addition, Andy paid me all flights BusinessClass abroad, so that I could get involved with the local managers of the BMG companies for optimal marketing in the respective countries.

After that, Goar B was looking for a studio that would continue to complete the pre-production in accordance with his specifications and ideas. Since Goar B had become financially tight due to the build-up phase, he was unable to pay studio rents and audio engineering fees. For this he found the music studio Syndicate, which immediately recognized the unique style of music and the hit potential, but unfortunately in the course of cooperation excessive demands for equity and loans. Due to the lack of time and financial hardship Goar B agreed.

The first release in Germany

The adoption of “Mambo No. 5 “in the German media was a bit cautious, until the title was played in a radio station.

“After that everything went viral. People called the radio and asked for the track. It went wild like crazy. At the time, I got a surprising offer from the music industry to exchange my artist for another, because the public did not know him visually yet. They made me a very good offer, but I did not hesitate to stand behind my artist. “

Mambo No. 5 was already 4 weeks No.1 in Germany as the very successful Backstreet Boys released their new single with a huge marketing campaign. But they were not able to dethrone us. The Backstreet Boys had to live with chart position 2. Mambo No. 5 stayed for 17 weeks at the top of the charts in Germany and sold 1.7 million singles.

“Mambo No 5” is the only title in the history of “Wetten dass”, a popular German entertainment show, which was played 2 times in a row due to the never ending public applause in the old bullring of Mallorca.

“I was backstage. The applause of the audience did not want to end. The people trampled with their feet. The stage was shaking. Pure goose bumps. There are actually no additions in “Wetten dass ..” What to do? The then ZDF entertainment director Viktor Worms finally gave the instruction behind the stage to play the title again. It was gigantic and remains unforgettable for me. “

International breakthrough in fast-forward mode

Shortly after its launch in Germany, Mambo No. 5 (A little bit of …) ranked number one in several other European countries. In the UK, however, the BMG delayed the song because it underestimated the demand. But at the beginning of September, Mambo No. 5 also reached the top of the charts in the UK.

In the US, Mambo No. 5 (A little bit of …) is the fastest climber to number 1 in the Airplay Charts to this day. Goar B succeeded in establishing Lou Bega as a special guest on Cher’s US tour. The producer was responsible for the entire show, including rehearsals with a ten-man band and six dancers. The effort was worth it: at the end of the Cher tour through 24 cities, Mambo No. 5 – with three and a half million albums sold – charted at number 3 on the Billboard charts and Lou Bega earned a Grammy nomination. It was followed by a South American tour and performances in Japan and India (where Mambo No. 5 also reached gold status).

From the beginning, Goar B was present at all concerts and on the road, but also in interviews and TV appearances by Lou Bega and pulled the strings as mastermind and doer in the background. The close cooperation of the producer with his star would prove to be a recipe for success: overall, the single sold around seven million copies worldwide and the album more than 6.5 million copies.

International releases

Goar B fought for a release in all countries. He was ready to commit extraordinary dedication and investment on his own, employing more than 10 people in his company to make the Lou Bega project internationally successful.

The – at this point managing director of BMG in Berlin – Andy Selleneit, recognized from the beginning his unbridled will to succeed from Goar B and support him by flying Goar B in all major countries to the local BMG sister companies.

After the release pledges Goar B continued to travel in the countries with his artist.

“I do not remember how many miles we’ve traveled, only that we eventually got a Lufthansa senator card for more than 150,000 miles per year. I accompanied Lou Bega to all important performances, interviews, award ceremonies, etc. His meteoric rise meant in a very short time a lot to deal with and to be well versed. “

Release in the UK

Although “Mambo No. 5 “was now # 1 on the charts in several European countries, England and US refused to release the track. In England, however, such a flood of imports came over from returning English foreign tourists that the BMG in London dropped their English attitude “We are different” and then finally published. She was overwhelmed with a pre-order of over 400,000 pieces from traders. Nevertheless, the sister company BMG / RCA in USA still did not want to publish.

“However, in the USA in particular I had seen my production and concept most of all. I articulated this in the music magazine MusikWoche and got calls from the industry, I should stay down to earth. Quite many people would have tried it in the US and would have failed miserably. “

Release in USA

In the contract with BMG Goar B had a 3-month right relapse for countries that do not publish. He met shortly before the end with Jim Welch, an A & R manager of Sony Music from New York, who was coincidetally in Germany at that time. Goar B was able to convince him to publish the title after the 3 months in the US and told the BMG so. On the day of the expiry, Goar B received a surprise call from the Business Affairs Director of BMG, Rolf Gilbert, with the request to extend the deadline by one day.

“I accepted the request and the next day shortly before midnight I received a fax with the promise to release the song in the US. I was responsible for all desicions. Every day, my employees in the office got long faxes with inquiries. My mobile costs piled up to costs for of rent for a family home. I coached Lou Bega constantly for interviews, appearances and strengthened his back. His father had died shortly before his breakthrough and so I stood him in a special way as a friend-father by his side. We had many intense conversations about everything under the sun on our flights. “

Submanagement in USA

Goar B left nothing to chance. He immediately hired a sub-management in Los Angeles.
“We had to pledge to the RCA that the artist was available for at least 9 months mainly for promotion in the US and got in L.A. apartment rooms in a hotel as a permanent accommodation. It was the most exciting time and my biggest challenge.

However, the first farewell from Germany was not without difficulties. The Booker, who was commissioned by me at that time, turned directly to my artist: My decision to go to the USA would be the biggest mistake because he loses considerable concert income in Europe as a result and we would have no real chance of success in the USA anyway. Nevertheless, David and I agreed that we wanted to try it anyways.

I still remember the first moment today when we landed in New York and were picked up by a stretch limousine. It was like a dream. “

A video conquers first the music channels and then YouTube

Mambo No. 5 (A little bit of …) is timeless, according to the official video and its success story on YouTube: ten years after its first release, it has been uploaded to YouTube and has gained more than
234 million views (as of July 2019).

Hardly anyone knows that the first video for Mambo No. 5 was never published. BMG managing director Andy Selleneit had the film produced by the label itself withdrawn shortly before its presentation at VIVA. Selleneit once again provided a substantial budget, allowing Goar B to realise its original concept – but in just three days. The result can be seen here:

Why Mambo No 5 is "a blast" to this day

But what makes Mambo No. 5 (A little bit of …) a long-time favourite? An answer to this question was given by the renowned US magazine Vanity Fair for the 20th anniversary of Mambo No. 5 and attested the song a quality and attraction that are still alive today:

“Even after two decades, Mambo no. 5 is still a blast,” wrote Vanity Fair author Steven Perlberg. Quote: “Mambo No. 5″ is still a banger. The song is a well-earned karaoke staple, a wedding dance floor energiser, arguably the most notable innovation on how to count to five since the abacus.”