Macarena is a Spanish song by Los del Río about a woman of the same name. It was popular between 1995 and 1996, although it continues to have a cult following to this day.
The song became the second longest running number 1 and best selling debut single of all time in the U.S. It was ranked the "number 1 Greatest One-Hit Wonder of all Time" by VH1 in 2002.
The song uses a type of clave. The song ranks at number 5 on Billboard's All Time Top 100. It also ranks at number 1 on Billboard's All Time Latin Songs.
As a result of their lounge act, Los del Río were invited to tour South America in March 1992 and, while visiting Venezuela, they were invited to a private party held by the Venezuelan empresario (of Cuban descent) Gustavo Cisneros. Many prominent Venezuelans were in attendance that night, including former president Carlos Andrés Pérez.
Cisneros had arranged for a local flamenco teacher, Diana Patricia Cubillán Herrera, to do a small performance for the guests, and Los Del Rio were pleasantly surprised by Cubillán's dance skills. Spontaneously, Romero recited the song's chorus-to-be on the spot, as an accolade to Cubillán, but naming her "Ma'dalena" (Magdalena): "Dale a tu cuerpo alegría, Ma'dalena, que tu cuerpo e' pa' darle alegría y cosa' güena'" ("Give your body some joy, Magdalene, 'cause your body is for giving joy and good things too"). In Andalusian culture labeling a woman "Magdalena" is to give her a faint association with Mary Magdalene's reportedly seedy past, and more accurately describes her as being sassy or sensuous.
Romero saw potential in the improvised rhyme and, back at their hotel, the duo came up with the basic structure of the song. Since "Magdalena" was also the title of another song by Spanish singer Emmanuel quite popular at the time, Romero suggested that they use "Macarena" instead which, besides being part of the name of one of his daughters, is a popular name in Andalusia, given its association with the Virgin of the Macarena, the incarnation of the Virgin Mary that is a patroness of Seville's barrio La Macarena. The Virgin-Magdalene dichotomy probably explains the rest of the lyrics: a song about a young woman, the girlfriend of a recent recruit to the Spanish Army named Victorino (whose name may be inspired from a kind of bull with long horns, evoking the cornudo, or male victim of his partner's infidelity, a mental image common in Spanish and Latin American culture), who celebrates his being drafted by hooking up with two of his male friends. Macarena has a weakness for males in uniform, spending summers at Marbella, and dreams of shopping at El Corte Inglés (the major Spanish department store chain), moving to New York City and getting a new boyfriend.
The song was originally recorded in 1992, and released in 1993 as a rumba. This was the first of six versions of the song that can be associated to Los Del Rio. Another version, a new flamenco rumba pop fusion theme with fully Spanish lyrics, attained significant success in Spain and Mexico. It also became popular in Puerto Rico because of its use as an unofficial campaign theme song for then-governor Pedro Rosselló, who was seeking reelection under the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico's ticket. Being the base for many cruise ships, many visitors to the island were constantly exposed to the song during their stay in Puerto Rico. This may explain how the song spread to — and became a smash hit in — cities with sizeable Latino communities in the United States, particularly Miami and New York City.
After being remixed by the Bayside Boys and having English lyrics added, it became a worldwide hit in mid-1996. The single spent 14 weeks at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, one of the longest runs atop the Hot 100 chart in history. During its heyday, the song was played frequently at professional athletic games, rallies, conventions, and other places. In 1996, many believe a world record for group dancing was set, when a crowd of 50,000 people danced the Macarena in Yankee Stadium in New York City. The song made such an impact that during the Democratic National Convention in 1996, Al Gore humorously performed his version of the Macarena by standing completely still while the song played.
"Macarena" remained popular through 1996, but by the end of 1997, its popularity had diminished greatly. The song also broke records at the time by remaining in the Hot 100 chart for 60 weeks. The Bayside Boys remix includes a sample from Yazoo (also known in the United States as Yaz) track Situation - the laughter of Yazoo vocalist Alison Moyet. In Addition, the chorus utilized female vocal samples utilized by The Farm in their song "Higher and Higher (Remix)" from their album, Spartacus.
In 1997, the song had sold 11 million copies. While having only a 25% take in royalties from the song, Romero and Ruiz became immensely wealthy. According to the BBC News Service, during the year 2003 alone — a full decade after the song's initial release — Romero and Ruiz made USD $250,000 in royalties. Julio Iglesias is quoted as congratulating the duo personally: "My success singing in English from Miami is nothing compared to yours; coming out of Dos Hermanas with little international exposure elsewhere and selling these many records in Spanish takes two huge sets of cojones."
In VH1's 2002 documentary 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders, Macarena was ranked as number 1. Macarena was also ranked #1 on a different VH1 documentary, 40 Awesomely Bad No. 1 Songs
On "America's Best Dance Crew", it was danced to on the Whack Track Challenge, given to the Ringmasters.
In the United Kingdom the song was released in June 1996 and peaked at number two on August 17, 1996. It was kept off the number one spot by the Spice Girls song Wannabe.
There are two different music videos. The most common music video, directed by Vincent Calvet, was created in 1996, featuring Los del Rio performing on a white backdrop. Ten women are also seen dancing with the band. This version samples a line from The Graduate ("I am not trying to seduce you!") which was later removed due to possible copyright issues. The other, similar version of the music video was in black and white and was more instructional in that the women and men are clearly shown performing the specific dance moves.
Notably, there is a diversity of female dancers from all around the world to specifically appeal to the many ethnicities of the world