Friday, September 28, 2012

The "Mambo No. 5" Effect

Firstly, I'm so sorry that you now have "A little bit of Monica..." stuck in your head. But now you are even more in-tune with what I'm about to say! Ahem.

We feel a special connection to artists because they create things that speak to us. Symphonies, sculptures, tattoos– these are all things we love because they resonate with our souls. This is normal. What is not quite as normal (although we're all victims) is when you no longer interpret an artistic creation as something beautiful that you connect with, but as something beautiful that was created SPECIFICALLY FOR YOU AND NONE ELSE.

Growing up, my mother would usually silence us during the chorus of Mambo No. 5 so she could deliver the line "A little bit of Sandra in the sun."

Mambo No. 5 Effect logic is as follows: 

My mother's name is Sandra + My mother is from Southern California = Mambo No. 5 was written about my mother.

I had always assumed this behavior was just my mom being eccentric. Until a few weekends ago, when my friend Angela hushed us all in the midst of a backyard dance party to hear the hallowed verse: "I like Angela, Pamela, Sandra and Rita."

Mambo No. 5 was her song. We all stood in silence as she chirped her 1999 shout-out. And I wondered how my mom would feel about sharing.

Obviously, to all you singer/songwriter/producer types out there, this Mo-No-Cinco Effect is EXACTLY what you are going for. There are two approaches to this:

1.) The Taylor Swift
Counter-intuitively, the more detail you add to a story, the more your relatability expands. Be as specific as you want with names and personal anecdotes, and let everybody else worry about application. You would assume that not every teenage girl knows what it's like to have a crush on Cory from Biology class– but you are wrong. They all have. Every last one of them. (And if not Cory, then Drew or John or Taylor Lautner.) Every teenage girl in America has dated a boy who drives a truck, has cried tears for him on her guitar, and has subsequently vowed that they will never ever ever get back together.

Example of the Taylor Swift Approach:
I have a friend (male) who said that T.Swizzle's I'd Lie was written about him. Green eyes, plays guitar, born on the 17th, beautiful sister, the whole nine yards. I had to give it to him. We Mambo Number High-Fived and speculated how he could have wooed her so unknowingly. (Did she have a real crush on him or perhaps just a facebook one?! We may never know.)

2.) The Justin Bieber
Dwell not on the specifics, but instead on the heart of the matter. Generic lyrics greatly increases your statistical probability of Mambo No. 5 by expanding your demographic. Nobody wants to hear a song about Selena Gomez– because we're all still pretty disappointed at how we do not look, dress, or live like she does. The Biebs realizes this, which is why he does not croon about cute little Latinas on Disney Channel, but instead sings vague expressions of devotion. Because there are a lot of lonely girls out there that think he means THEM AND THEM ALONE when he promises there's gonna be "one less" out of their ranks.

Example of the Justin Bieber Approach:
I wouldn't want this so badly unless I thought he wanted to be my boyfriend.
Admittedly, the JB Approach is not as cool as having a song with your name in it. I realized at a young age that nothing rhymes with Lauren– and thus I will never have a song about me, like Kelsey– or three hundred songs about me, like Annie. So all you Utah kids with obscure names that never got a personalized keychain at Disneyland? I get it. Phonetics are harsh.

The plus side is that I PREFER songs with ambiguous lyrics to begin with– and I am convinced to the core that these ones will never apply to anyone else as much as they do to me.

Joshua Radin: "Your hair is always up in a bun– this girl's the one." 
(Yes, it is! Thank you for loving the way I never do my hair!)

Bon Iver: "I'm in love with your honor. I'm in love with your cheeks." 
(It's true! I have the honor of a Chinese warrior and the cheeks of an adolescent squirrel!)

David Archuleta: "Like falling stars over your head, we were bound to burn out just like crashing cars– I'll never get over you, never over you 'cause you are so beautiful... yeah." 
(So emotionally honest of you, David! It's been a long time coming. Also, I think a solid "yeah" is ALWAYS a good way to let everyone know that you are done singing!)

Confession time. [Validate me.] What makes you Mambo No. 5?


  1. Hahaha!

    So true. I love songs with my name in them.

  2. Ahhh Lauren you are HILARIOUS. How do you come up with this stuff? I have to say that my sister gave me One Direction's album, and their lyrics make me swoon. But even more so, Hunter Hayes. His songs were written for ME ;)

  3. I love this post so much.

    Unfortunately, I'm one of those kids who never got a personalized keychain at Disneyland. So my actual name's not ever in any songs.

    However, my "Mambo No. 5" effect generally has to do less with a song being written for me and more with me totally agreeing with the sentiment of what's being sung. I mean, I could TOTALLY sing those exact lyrics to somebody because it is completely describing my life. How does the artist just get my life? We must be the same person! Haha. Does that count? If so, some of those "Mambo No. 5" songs are: "What Hurts the Most" by Rascal Flatts, "Best Thing I Never Had" by Beyonce, "Girl Next Door" by Saving Jane, "Broken Vow" by Josh Groban, and "I'm Not That Girl" from Wicked.

    1. WHAT?!?!?? Hahahaha all of those songs were written by Adele! I heard her next album is going to be a happy one. I have a feeling yours will be as well.

  4. You Can Call Me Al.

    I pull that out whenever I can. Obviously.

  5. Hahaha, Mambo No. 5 is my one claim to fame :)