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Noise of summer

Summer jams that show how the 1990s made us dumber

Photo: Justin Rose, License: N/A

Justin Rose

Illustration by Justin Rose


1999: Lou Bega, 

"Mambo No. 5"

Speaking of the Latin craze, that track from Ricky Martin was perhaps only eclipsed by this song from Lou Bega. Hey, we love that Cuban sound. We love Pérez Prado. We love the 1940s. But this song appeals to people who couldn't care less about that stuff; it's just an obvious effort to cash in on Cuban music by dumbing it down relentlessly. Bega added in scratching and samples in a bid for urban listeners, but still kept it inoffensive enough to appeal to dumbass Middle America. Proof of success? Within a year, Disney was all over that shit, changing the names of the girls to Disney characters.


2000: Baha Men, 

"Who Let the Dogs Out?" 

Look back in shame. What the hell was the record-buying public thinking, sending this track anywhere near the charts? It rocketed to No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart and reached No. 1 in Australia. Even in the United States it reached No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. With lyrics so dumb they make Lady Gaga look like Aristotle and Socrates rolled into one, this is three minutes and 15 seconds of screaming and woofing, interspersed with oddly upbeat calypso rap about — get this — actual dogs! Here's a song that was actually too stupid for Disney, so the Baha Men had to make their deal with Nickelodeon.

Michael Jackman is senior editor of Metro Times in Detroit, where this story first appeared.