February 9th, 2011

New Lambada New Lambada New Lambada New Lambada

Thanks to DJ Effresh for putting me on to yet another interesting instantiation of the “Lambada.” Here’s Vakero, one of the DR’s fiercest MCs, jumping on a dembow-influenced reworking of a truly perennial tune, as hashed out here, way back when

Discussing this over at my/our Buzz, Birdseed pointed out that there’s a recent UK funky version of the tune as well:

Kaoma – Lambada (Terror Tone Remix) by Terror Tone

Obviously, this sort of thing is very up my musicological alley. I love to tell a good audible story, where a particular set of materials is transformed over and over again, according to its new context(s).

And while I’m not really interested in abstracting any rules for what makes one tune more transposable than others — IMO, there’s far too much contingency involved to open into the realm of the generalizable — one consistent thread that emerges across such case studies is that, as with participatory culture more generally, they very often present, in the words of Henry Jenkins, “relatively low barriers” to entry and engagement.

This is certainly true for the “Lambada,” and nothing says it better than Vakero’s shameless chorus on the track above: “la la la la la la la la la la la la la laaaaaaaa.” I mean, c’mon, anyone can do that! That’s how I’ve been singing “Lambada” for years.

Which brings me to my second example (and explains the repetitive title above): Juan Bago’s “Pan con Queso” (h/t Monika Fabian):

I’ve been a big fan of Wiz Khalifa’s relatively vapid but awfully catchy ode to his favorite colors ever since it first came out. (Indeed, I even cooked up a quick mashup to draw out the beat’s relation to the Triggerman.) I think it was Catchdubs who, in my feeds, first pointed out the obvious: You can change the chorus to be about anything! Any four-syllable phrase anyway.

And I can absolutely vouch for the plasticity of the tune. Indeed, since it entered regular radio rotation, my two toddlers have been singing it non-stop (they easily relate to songs about colors, of course), and we’ve all had fun for the last few months slotting all manner of four-syllable phrases into the hook. (Especially other color combinations, duh, in order to, say, suit the sippy-cup of the day: pink and purple, pink and purple, pink and purple, pink and purple.) [Update! Sharesister Lily notes that there actually exists a lilgirls’ version of the song called “Pink and Purple“! My daughters are delighted.]

So it doesn’t surprise me that there would be dozens and dozens of remixes (or whatever you insist on calling them) in which people substitute their own favorite four-syllable phrase. But few (that I’ve seen anyway), have come close to approaching the panache and piquancy of “Pan con Queso.” Washington Heights representando! Long live the Dominican YouTubosphere! Viva la “Lambada”!


  • 1. wayneandwax  |  February 14th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    And here’s the latest lambada iteration, a moombahton mix, c/o Max le Daron:

  • 2. Max Pearl  |  February 17th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Don’t know if someone’s already spotted this, but at about 8:04 in the PLAYERO 37 SIDE B mixtape Daddy Yankee (I think) goes into a Lambada-riffed breakdown “la la la la la la la la la la la laaaaaaaaaaaa” – It drove me crazy trying to figure out where it was that I had heard that, and I finally figured it out. It’s a slowed down, slightly off-key stoner lambada melody, but it’s there.


  • 3. wayneandwax  |  February 17th, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Interesting theory, Max! I gotta say, I’m not exactly convinced, especially the places he goes with the melody there, though the first part of the phrase is pretty similar. But, as a bit of possibly persuasive evidence, it’s telling that he sings this odd/off tune right after riding a bit from the Drum Song riddim as versioned for Dirtsman’s “Hot This Year,” which is the very same riddim over which Red Fox and Screechy Dan mobilize the lambada for their classic ode to pum-pum shorts.

  • 4. Max Pearl  |  February 17th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Hm, let me throw down on an ableton mashup and we’ll see what happens!

  • 5. wayneandwax  |  February 17th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    now you’re talking my kind of analytical methodology! i await in great suspense ;)

  • 6. w&w  |  February 22nd, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    and right on cue, heeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrreeeeeee’s pitbull —

    (h/t birdseed)

  • 7. wayneandwax.com » G&hellip  |  June 16th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    […] the illustrious ranks of “Pan con Queso,” here’s another hilario cross-lingual take on a contemporary club banger (apropos of […]

  • 8. Matan  |  June 26th, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    (Long time lurker: finally have something to add…)
    @max pearl:I’m with you – 2:04 they’re singing a major “retune” of the hook, and a couple of badly memorized wrap-up pitches for the phrase.

  • 9. wayneandwax  |  June 27th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Well, I appreciate your vote on this (and your comment)! I’m still not convinced, but I’m happy to hear other opinions.


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

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