July 26th, 2007

Poses, Panpipes, and Forbidden Dances

Thanks to Troels (who’s got some nice digi-reggae mixes up over here), who pointed out in a comment that the melody from Red Fox and Screechy Dan’s Drum Song-driven dancehall perennial, “Pose Off” —

— as heard as a background synthline in Wisin y Yandel’s “Pam Pam” (discussed by me here), can be connected back further to Kaoma’s “Lambada,” an accordion-propelled cumbia that animated so many “forbidden dances” back in 1989 (and which gives Luny Tunes’ subtle nod to dancehall reggae yet futher “Latin” resonance, at least for plenty of listeners) ::

As I dug into that connection, however, I learned — via Wiki ! — that the tune underpinning “Lambada” is “actually an unauthorised translation of the song ‘Llorando se fue,’ from the Bolivian group Los K’jarkas” — which Youtube unerringly confirms (along with countless other versions of the song) ::

This is the sort of genealogy that really makes my neurons light up. & I’ve got several other dazzling examples along these lines I’ve been meaning to get around to sharing. (Soon come!) They provide such wonderfully audible threads for discussions of musical migrations and appropriations and versions and aspersions and all that good stuff. But part of me wants to get my video mixing skills on point first, as such sonic stories would be far better told if mixed’n’segued in certain ways. (Would help with “fair use” arguments as well, no doubt.)

And round and round we go —


  • 1. lone wolf  |  July 26th, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    this is one of the tightest series of jumps i’ve heard! i have such a sweet tooth for wisin y yandel.

    i’ve used vegas video to do some timestretching with video clips. it’s essentially the same as acid. this might work for the types of vidmixes you have in mind.

  • 2. Birdseed  |  July 28th, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    You’re usually really good at connecting deep research and obscure threads, but I have to admit this one is a teensy bit obvious. I mean, Lambada was an enormous worldwide hit and it’s no stretch to see it used by either the Jamaicans (what hits haven’t they appropriated?) or the Puerto Ricans. Or the Vietnamese. Or diasporadic Turks in Denmark. Or Polish amateur rock bands. Or The Jamaicans again. Or American avant-garde weirdos.

  • 3. glenaco  |  July 30th, 2007 at 3:33 am

    lambada = worst song ever

  • 4. wayneandwax  |  July 30th, 2007 at 10:07 am

    You’re right, Birdseed, I didn’t dig too deep on this one, and perhaps didn’t have to. But I’m thankful for the links you provide! Obvious as the spread of such a popular song may be (whether or not it’s a terrible song, as glenaco posits), that doesn’t make it seem less interesting to me. In particular, I was pretty excited in this case by discovering (for me, yes) that what I thought was (and still think is) a contempo reggaeton reference to early 90s dancehall turns out to have all of this other (“Latin”) resonance.

    Similarly, I suppose that looking at any of the examples you cite, in context, would make for further fruitful revelations about the meanings that can accrue to such translocal melodies.

  • 5. Birdseed  |  July 30th, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    The step I find most interesting in the whole affair is actually the very first one, the one from Peruvian folk-pop to… Whatever you can describe Kaoma as.

    Looking around the internet a bit you can find wildly different stories on how it came to be (and became a worldwide hit). A lot of the information seems to originally have come from this page, and that guy’s story is interesting for a number of reasons.

    1) The relationship between “the french businessmen” and the music. Who were Kaoma? Where did they find them? Why did they pick that particular song out of the “over 300” they had to chose from? Where did they learn about Lambada in the first place? Tourists to Bahia?

    2) The Relationship between Brazil, Africa and The Caribbean, and Zouk, Kizomba and Lambada as dances and musical styles. It’s surprising to me that “one of the three main non-ballroom dances” of Brazil is caribbean in origin, and the close intertwining of the three styles.

    3) The genesis of the “Lambada” musical style in the first place, which could possibly have come before the dance. I’ve been trying for ages to get hold of some other Lambada music (besides Kaoma’s track) but failed, in order to compare. (Also for a radio show special on electronic third-world music in the eighties.)

    Oh, and as a bonus, here’s a Japanese Lambada version too.

  • 6. Raquel Z  |  July 30th, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    I wonder if the Brazil(ian women) fetish of music videos of the last few years has a lot to do with this Wisin and Yandel nod to lambada. It wouldn’t surprise me if the idea for the video in Rio came first and then someone thought of bringing lambada in as something Brazilian recognizable to the pop ear.

  • 7. wayneandwax  |  February 21st, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Thx to Gabriel for reminding me that Elephant Man riffed off this tune too!

  • 8. Rick  |  December 10th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Hello, Salam/Shalom/Peace.

    I loved reading your blog! I was actually just listening to pom-pom in a mix, and said “wow that sounds So familiar”…and here I am.

    Keep up the good/interesting work!

  • 9. djjeffresh  |  December 25th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    cool discussion. here is a dominican dem bow iteration by Vakero that was popular in the DR about a year ago. im learning a lot about lambada thanks to this thread.

  • 10. la lambada dem bow de vak&hellip  |  February 5th, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    […] post over at Wayne&Wax points out the derivation of the lambada melody from a traditional Peruvian folk standard Llorando […]

  • 11. wayneandwax.com » N&hellip  |  February 9th, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    […] fiercest MCs, jumping on a dembow-influenced reworking of a truly perennial tune, as hashed out here, way back when […]

  • 12. wayneandwax.com » L&hellip  |  April 12th, 2011 at 11:24 am

    […] up a new mini-(mega)-mix! This one follows the circulation and permutation of a song I’ve tracked here before, “Llorando Se Fue” — better known to the world as […]


I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

Tag Cloud

academic aesthetics af-am africa anthro arab art audio baby babylonia beatresearch blogging bookish boston brazil cambridge caribbean chicago commerce copywrong cumbia dance dubstep ethno europe events funkcarioca gigs global globalghettotech hip-hop humor industry internet interview jamaica jazz juke kwaito latin lifey linkthink mashup media mexico middleeast mixx nation newyork panama politricks pop public puertorico r&b race radio reggae reggaeton remix review riddimmeth0d rock sampling seasonal sexuality soundscape tech techno traxx UK video whirledmusic worldmusic youth



Creative Commons License

chacarron chacarronchaca-riggity-ron