Out of left field came German-born, Italian/Ugandan Lou Bega
, scoring an international chart-topping single with his infectious "Mambo No. 5" -- the only thing that kept it from reaching the top of the U.S. charts was the fact that no American commercial single was ever issued. The rest of Bega's album, A Little Bit of Mambo
, follows pretty much the same recipe as "Mambo No. 5." A couple of songs, including "1+1=2" and "I Got a Girl" are virtual rewrites of the aforementioned hit -- meaning that if one didn't enjoy "Mambo No. 5," then one would have a difficult time enjoying the rest of the album. Nonetheless, this breezy, feel-good disc is entirely intoxicating, incorporating Caribbean rhythms and instrumentals ("The Most Expensive Girl in the World," "Icecream"), mambo-meets-techno influences ("Can I Tico Tico You"), jazz and hip-hop ("The Trumpet Part II"), and old-time nostalgia ("Baby Keep Smiling"), to create one of 1999's most unusual and unique albums. Lou Bega
's vocals are limited, to be sure, and the lyrics deal with little more than girls and partying (and are too ridiculous to be taken seriously), yet his charisma and good-natured intentions are undeniable. None of the songs on this disc came close to matching the success of "Mambo No. 5." The second single, the hypnotic, brass-heavy "Tricky Tricky" failed to even ignite the U.S. Top 40, rendering Bega as more a novelty act than anything else. Nonetheless, this album is unique in the pantheon of 1990s pop music, and those who enjoyed his hit will likely enjoy the rest of this feel-good, summery concoction.