Lambada Land

By: Marcelo Báez

Being a one-hit wonder is simultaneously magical and sad. Sure, your band or musical project achieves overnight success because of a song. But right after you’re getting used to the taste of fame, everything else you put out fails to sustain the high. It sucks, right? Still, you, the artist, should find comfort in knowing something you’ve done will forever linger in the memory of some music nerd—like us, for example. So before we enter the sad land of sophomore paragraphs, let’s get this list of Latino one-hit wonders started.

ONE. “Lambada” by Kaoma [Brazil/France]

The history of how the “Lambada” song came to be is convoluted and, frankly, not very interesting. What is interesting is that, had it not been for Kaoma’s version of the song, which sold millions of copies in 1989, most of the world probably wouldn’t know the word “lambada” today (and even The Simpsons made fun of the craze). And we really wish we could forget that in 2011 J. Lo desecrated the sanctity of this great hit by sampling the main melody and placing it in “On the Floor.”

TWO. “El Sonidito” by Hechizeros Band [Mexico]

The year was 2010 and you’d be hard-pressed to find a quinceañera, Latino wedding, tropical dance club or radio station where “El Sonidito” was not on rotation. The whole song has no more than three notes, and it’s absurdly repetitive. But because it came out of nowhere (had you ever even heard of the Mexican state of Nayarit before?) its omnipresence seemed even more magical. Plus, its lowbrow, two-peso video, where a bunch of happy-go-lucky dudes were filmed having a good time, is still pretty hilarious.

THREE. “Muchacha Triste” by Los Fantasmas del Caribe [Venezuela]

We’d LOVE to meet the record executives who thought it was a good idea to sign Los Fantasmas del Caribe. Those people had balls! Seriously, if you were a record executive and a group of men—basically Chippendale dancers in cheesy pirate costumes—showed up to your office asking to be signed, you’d have probably chuckled, then told them to GTF out. Thankfully for all of us, that was not the case, and that’s why the incredibly catchy “Muchacha Triste” exists.

(Note: It might be unfair to catalog Los Fantasmas as one-hit wonders because they did chart other singles, but no other song from their repertoire surpassed the popularity of “Muchacha Triste.”)

FOUR. “Yasuri Yamileth” by Yasuri Yamileth [Panama]

This song, which is about a single mother from the ghetto, was recorded as a joke by Panamanian radio DJ and model Katherine Severino. But when the song blew up and Katherine was asked to be in the video, she felt like her image didn’t fit with the song’s character, so she passed. After acquiring the rights for the song, a local TV station traveled to El Chorrillo, a humble Panamanian neighborhood referenced in the lyrics, and hired a random woman to play the role of Yasuri Yamileth. For a while, everyone believed the woman in the video was the real Yasuri but, alas, she was not.

FIVE. “Hoy Tengo Ganas De Ti” by Miguel Gallardo [Spain]

Christina Aguilera and Alejandro Fernandez recently did an awful cover of this great song. It’s a mom song, to be sure, but the chorus is so powerful, so melodramatic, that it lingers in your head for days. Plus we bet that half of you (if you’re older than 30, that is) were probably conceived to Miguel’s ridiculous voice.

SIX.La Bomba” by Azul Azul [Bolivia]

Just like “El Sonidito,” Azul Azul ruled the airwaves and every form of Latino party with 1995’s smash hit “La Bomba.” Heck, you can still play it today and everyone will still do that silly pole dance. This song shares a kinship with fellow one-hit wonders “Lambada,” “Macarena” and Las Ketchup’s “Asereje,” because they all came with a special dance.

Marcelo Baéz is a writer, DJ, and musician based in NYC. When he's not producing "Rico Suave" parties, he releases music under P3CULIAR.