This song was originally done in 1952 by the Cuban-Mexican bandleader Perez Prado. Known as the 'King of the Mambo,' Prado recorded numerous mambos and when he ran out of inspiration, he would simply number them, and "Mambo No 5" was one of a series of 8.
Perez Prado's version was instrumental and in 1999 German Pop musician Lou Bega added lyrics to it, transforming it into a love song for several women, namely Angela, Pamela, Sandra, Rita, Monica, Erica, Tina, Mary and Jessica. It was reported that the girls he mentioned were all Lou's former girlfriends but it is probably beyond coincidence that eight of the girls in the song have names that happen to end in "A."
On VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders, Lou Bega said: "When I wrote the song, I believed it could be the thing it is today. All people hate it completely, that's what I thought. I knew it wouldn't swim in the middle because it was too different from all the stuff that was outside, so I'm quite happy with it. Mambo makes you happy, Latin music makes you happy, its sexual, its erotic, energetic, I think that's the point."
This was a #1 hit in Germany for over 10 weeks and when import copies started to sell in the UK, RCA released it and it went to the top. It was also a record 20 weeks #1 in France and topped the charts in most other European countries. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for all above)
Bob The Builder, who is a cartoon character, had a #1 UK hit with his version of this song.
Bega told Fox News that the story behind the song was a simple one. "I dated a lot of pretty nice ladies when I was younger," he said. "These names of my past, you know, just came to me and I wrote it down, got the melody and the rest is history."
Asked if he had a favorite, Bega replied, "My favorite is Sandra, that's why she was the one in the sun."