Lou Bega's cover was a hit in the United Kingdom, and Australia, where it reached number one in 1999. It stayed at number one in Australia for eight weeks, ultimately becoming the best-selling single of the year. It also topped almost every chart in continental Europe, including Bega's home country, Germany, and set a record by staying at number one in France for 20 weeks (longer than any stay at the top spot ever on the US or UK charts). The song reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US on November 2, 1999, giving Bega his only Top 40 hit in the US.
Originally written by Lou Bega's nephew and Chicago musician Paul Grachan after having been introduced by Super Happy Fun Club member Phil Kosch and Dianna Warren, co-writers of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing". Ultimately Grachan was left uncredited after a writing dispute prior to the final version.
The following is a list of names mentioned in Bega's song, in order: Angela, Pamela, Sandra, Rita, Monica, Erika, Tina, Mary and Jessica.
Radio Disney edit
A version of "Mambo No. 5" was aired on Radio Disney, in which the women's names were replaced with the names of legendary Disney characters, in order: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Pluto, Huey, Dewey, and Louie and Goofy. Additionally, references to a "liquor store" were replaced with a "candy store" instead, "ice cream" was used rather than "gin and juice," "flirting" was replaced by "dancing," and the "beer bust" referred to was changed to a dance party with the quote, "Let's dance 'til we all fall down, We'll really party hearty to the Mambo Sound", rather than, "Beer bust, like I had last week, I must stay deep, 'cause talk is cheap" in the Radio Disney edited version for children.
The music video, directed by Jorn Heitmann, features Lou Bega singing and dancing with flappers, possibly a homage to the music of the 1920s and 1930s. The video includes clips of old-style movies and newsreels showing trumpets, big bands and the like. The Disney version of the music video features Lou Bega performing against a white background with a live band. Footage of old Mickey Mouse cartoons and clips of Lou Bega performing against a checkered background is intercut throughout the video.
Filipino jazz singer Richard Poon covered the song on the Filipino compilation album 90's Music Comes Alive in 2012.
Cover versions, with slightly different lyrics in each version, have been heard in Party City commercials.
WHTZ DJ David Brody released a parody version named "Matzah No. 5" which aired on radio stations throughout the country. Performed by "Louie Bagel", the parody takes on various Jewish stereotypes. He also released a parody entitled "Bimbo No. 5" referring to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, wherein DJ Nelson imitates the voice of Bill Clinton. The song is commonly mis-attributed to both "Weird Al" Yankovic and Paul Shanklin. Also released was "Combo No.5"; the parody takes on ordering combo dinners from a Chinese take-away.
"Mambo No. 5" was ranked sixth in a 2007 poll conducted by Rolling Stone to identify the 20 most annoying songs.
On September 11, 2010, Matthew Wilkening of AOL Radio ranked the Lou Bega cover of the song at number 95 on the list of the 100 Worst Songs Ever, joking, "Can you imagine how bad Nos. 1 through 4 must have been? Let's all band together and make sure there's never a No. 6!"