Lou Bega’s 1999 breakout hit “Mambo Number 5” propelled Lou to stardom and lined his pockets with more money than the singer knew what to do with. But that’s only part of the story. Few people realise that the 5th Mambo is actually part of a 9 part saga, chronicling a small boy from Kentucky attempting to learn to dance and his eventual descent into destitution. As complex and wide ranging as it is, here is the complete Mambo Saga:
#1. First Swing:
“First Swing” tells the story of a young dancer Pablo, who’s dream is to dance, but was born with club foot. Over the timeframe of the song, Pablo learns to overcome his club foot using only sheer perseverance and extensive surgery. At the end of the song, he performs his first mambo.
#2. Mambo AKA First Swing Part II
The second part of First Swing starts immediately after the original, following Pablo as he learns that just because he can dance, doesn’t mean he has mastered the art. He learns self discipline and overcomes many obstacles in order to face his first true opponent: Jimmy McKrampton. Pablo and Jimmy dance one-on-one and ultimately Pablo loses, showing that the path to true mastery is littered with defeat.
#3. Mambo: The Reckoning
Pablo falls into a depression, the city is overrun with crime and there is no one around to clear it up. Pablo’s friends rally around him to get him out of his funk and get out to defeat the head of the local gang “El Pendejos” in a no-holds-barred dance off. Pablo is successful and becomes the city’s kingpin.
#4 Mambo Number 4
After running the city for a while, Pablo takes a road trip to Europe to discover his Spanish roots. Along the way he meets plenty of oddball characters and gets sidetracked by wacky japes. Pablo does not emotionally grow during this Mambo.
#5. Mambo Number 5 (A Little Bit Of…):
Pablo fucks a whole buncha women.
#6. Mambo Holiday Special:
To cash in on the success of Mambo Number 5, Lou Bega released the Mambo Holiday Special. A series of non-canon mini Mambos that explored the ideas behind Christmas and similar winter holidays. Each mambo featured a different character from previous Mambos each with a disconnected storyline. This Mambo was later pulled from the shelves and only lives on old cassettes in thrift stores.
#7. Mambo vs Samba!:
This mambo is probably the weakest one of them all. A jumbled mess that attempted to cross over the Mambo series with the emerging “Samba!” series. “Samba!” started as a rip-off of Mambo, but then soon became a series in its own right. The idea was to make a crossover song into a franchise juggernaut but ended up ruining the legacy of both.
#8. Mambo In Space:
Space 2105. The earth is destroyed, absorbed by a dying star. The remains of Pablo are kept in an urn on a spaceship as it hurtles towards a new planet predicted to maintain human life. Pablo is resurrected to show his dancing skills once more, but first must defeat the evil hidden within the ships core.
#9. Mambo Legacy:
“Mambo Legacy” is technically the 9th Mambo in the saga, it acts as both a retcon and a reboot. Following on directly from Mambo Number 5 and ignoring the Mambos after it, it puts Pablo in retirement. Running his own Mambo school, he trains the next generation of dancers overcoming club foot. Unbeknown to Pablo, in Mambo Number 5 he fathered 17 illegitimate children to 16 different mothers. They file a class action lawsuit against him for backpayment of child support. Pablo goes through a gruelling trial that takes a toll on his health, while he trains his protege to carry on the Mambo Legacy.
Bonus Mambo: Mambo: The Animated Series
In this non-canon series, Lou Bega plays himself as he goes on adventures, often learning life lessons in the process. Each episode ends with Lou Bega addressing the audience directly, offering advice such as “negotiate a good portion of royalty rights”, “have a follow-up song ready to go” and “don’t sign a multi-record deal unless there is a healthy advanced payment upfront coupled with a significant marketing budget pre-packaged into each album.”
What’s your favourite Mambo? Let us know in the comments!