April 12th, 2011

Lambada Is a Feeling

I’m happy to report, just in time to soundtrack that new spring in your step, that I’ve cooked 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 “Lambada.”

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You can get some sense of the history here, but that Wikipedia page only scratches the surface (for now; here’s hoping this bit of mixxage can help aid expansion). I’ve been hearing the tune turn up in some unexpected places over the years — in hardcore dancehall reggae, for instance, which despite a certain capaciousness still surprises with what seem to be far-flung borrowings. As with similar projects, I’ve grown fascinated by the way such a spreadable song can draw attention to the inflections of individual interpreters as well as the very conventions that give genres their ability to uniquely address an audience.

What I’ve put together here is hardly comprehensive, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. For one, 15+ renditions is already pushing the limits of monotony, I suspect, despite the subtle twists and turns the tune takes in new settings; moreover, it would be quite impossible to catalog the song in full, especially given how it continues to spread. (I’m sure that J Lo’s global imperial club version will inspire many more.)

So, like Nguzunguzu’s magisterial Moments in Love, which I think of as offering another bit of inspiration for this effort, Moments in Lambada is simply an attempt to give a sense of the shape-shifting the tune undergoes. Who knows? Perhaps someday there will be a part two. (Feel free to bring to my attn any versions that seem conspicuously absent; only learned this morning that I left out a new Don Omar take!)

Whirling together a world of Lambadas is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but the impetus finally came in the form of an invitation to contribute to a new online magazine devoted to creative engagements with contemporary music and arts, Cluster Mag.

Go check out the post to grab the mix and scan the tracklist — and don’t miss my little write-up, which concludes thusly:

[Update (April 2016): alas, Clustermag seems to be down; you can find the archived post here, and the audio is here (or via the button below). I have reposted the entirety of the original text at the bottom of this post.]

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Over the course of the mix, we dip into forró, UK funky, dancehall, reggaeton, lambahton, lambow, norteña, global guettatech, panpipe pop, and other club-ready confections that may or may not have real or invented genre tags, with some delightful, surprisingly recurrent nods to vintage house. Palimpsests push their way through the texture, as when J Lo seems to retrace phonemes from “Llorando Se Fue” before singing along with Vakero’s everyman adaptation (“la la la la la”). Her zigzag jetset cartography in “On the Floor” could as easily be following the circulation of “Lambada” — Brazil, Morocco, London to Ibiza, straight to LA, New York, Vegas to Africa — but the earthy sentiments that Vakero expresses in a local tongue — “vamo a beber, vamo a joder” — are just as global.

Finally, after giving a listen, I challenge you to dispel the wriggly earworm embedded in this sweet song of a thousand dances, forbidden like fruit. Lambada is a feeling. Enjoy! (<-- MPfree)

Originally printed at Cluster Mag (April 2011):

Nodding to Nguzunguzu’s magisterial Moments in Love mix, which knits together countless covers and echoes of a seminal Art of Noise track, I’ve threaded along a similarly diverse collection of related riffs. Moments in Lambada retraces the flexible but familiar contours of one of the most popular melodies of the last 30 years. A 1981 Andean pop song (“Llorando Se Fue” by Los Kjarkas), popularly translated for Brazilian audiences in 1986 (Márcia Ferreira’s “Chorando Se Foi”), and transformed three years later into a worldwide worldbeat hit by French group Kaoma, “Lambada” was the unauthorized anthem that inspired and propelled The Forbidden Dance, a film which opened on the same day in 1990 as a rival bit of bandwagon-hopping, the less salaciously titled Lambada. In the years since, the tune has hardly receded from earshot, cropping up in both predictable and unexpected quarters over and over again.

A stretchy bit of ear candy, the song has been reworked like so much tropical taffy, twisted and folded into an impressive array of styles, sometimes as part of the same release. To maximize exposure across club scenes, Kaoma’s version was itself made available in remixed form, entering the world in several shapes and styles at once, including two “Dub” mixes, an “Extended” mix, and a “Club” mix (all of which I’ve worked into Moments). Although we begin — after a brief Incan incantation and station identification — with Los Kjarka’s 1981 recording, the mix doesn’t proceed in chronological order. Instead, tempo and formal correspondences dictate the direction. Certain segues demanded creative, but not inapt, tweaking: to stay in key (loosely speaking), a cumbia version needed to be pitched down, a procedure resonant with rebajada tradition; likewise, I’ve dubbled dub mixes and made club edits of club edits.

Over the course of the mix, we dip into forró, UK funky, dancehall, reggaeton, lambahton, lambow, norteña, global guettatech, panpipe pop, and other club-ready confections that may or may not have real or invented genre tags, with some delightful, surprisingly recurrent nods to vintage house. Palimpsests push their way through the texture, as when J Lo seems to retrace phonemes from “Llorando Se Fue” before singing along with Vakero’s everyman adaptation (“la la la la la”). Her zigzag jetset cartography in “On the Floor” could as easily be following the circulation of “Lambada” — Brazil, Morocco, London to Ibiza, straight to LA, New York, Vegas to Africa — but the earthy sentiments that Vakero expresses in a local tongue — “vamo a beber, vamo a joder” — are just as global.

W&W, Moments in Lambada

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Tracklist
Los Kjarkas, “Llorando Se Fue”
Inca Son, “Llorando Se Fue”
Jorge Rico, “Llorando Se Fue”
Grupo Chiripa, “Llorando Se Fue”
Red Foxx and Screechy Dan, “Pose Off”
Wisin y Yandel, “Pam Pam”
Kaoma, “Lambada (Dub Mix)”
Max le Daron, “Lambahton Remix”
Kaoma, “Lambada (Extended Mix)”
Kaoma, “Lambada (Llorando Se Fue?) (Dub)”
Kaoma, “Lambada (Club Mix)”
Metal de Durango, “Llorando Se Fue”
Elephant Man, “Hate Mi”
Vakero, “La La La (Lambow)”
Kiko e As Jambetes, “Chorando Se Foi”
Terror Tone, “Kaoma – Lambada (Terror Tone Remix)”
Jennifer Lopez (ft. Pitbull), “On the Floor”

13 Comments

  • 1. vamanos  |  April 13th, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    It really is THE FORBIDDEN DANCE.

    http://ghettobassquake.com/?p=3859

  • 2. RRSalceda  |  April 13th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Can I mention I have a Lambada award? That I got at my old Catholic school in the early 90s? That’s a big thing that nuns borrachas de fascismo in Spain would host a lambada competition!!That would not happen now. I played the dude, my friend did something last minute to her immaculate white panties to show her generous bootie. Of course we won! Una cosita: baile altamente recomendado entre ejecutivos agresivos, politicos anaftalinados y demas gallifantes de corbata prieta, entre ellos vamos…habria que verlo.

  • 3. wayneandwax  |  April 13th, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    !

  • 4. vamanos  |  April 13th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Nuns eh.

  • 5. RRSalceda  |  April 13th, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Never underestimate a habit.

  • 6. wayneandwax  |  April 14th, 2011 at 9:21 am

    jerkin is a habit

  • 7. wayneandwax  |  April 14th, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Well, the glaring omissions are already rolling in.

    Among others, there’s this Bollywood version — leave it to Lahiri — (h/t DJ Empirical):

    And there’s a tribal costeñito version too! (via @laurorobles)

    And how’d I miss this one?

  • 8. Boebis  |  May 1st, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    You really might be interested in the really great article about lambada / llorando se fue, globalisation and identity.

    http://nuevomundo.revues.org/5644 (in spanish)
    http://nuevomundo.revues.org/2181#tocto1n1 (in french)

  • 9. Alex  |  May 3rd, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    The gif. is in perfect time with the mix.

  • 10. wayneandwax  |  May 3rd, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    =)

  • 11. Miles  |  August 24th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    ice cream truck version

  • 12. wayneandwax  |  August 24th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    wait, where?

    ok, i did turn this up easily enough —

  • 13. wayneandwax  |  December 12th, 2013 at 11:34 am

    and then there’s this, via Rio, y2k, c/o Furacao 2000:

Wayne&Wax

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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