Remember When? Los Del Río, "Macarena" Take Over The U.S.
Rewind: August 1996 in the United States.
The Summer Olympics were in Atlanta. President Bill Clinton was preparing to run for a second term. The New York Yankees were bulldozing a path to their first World Series title in nearly 20 years. Nintendo 64 was the must-have video game console.
In music, Kiss' reunion tour was the hot ticket. Toni Braxton, Metallica, Nas, and Alanis Morissette were riding high on the charts. And out of left field, Los Del Río — a Spanish pop/dance duo comprising Antonio Romero Monge and Rafael Ruíz Perdigones — turned pop culture upside-down and inside out with "Macarena."
Even if the glorious mid-'90s predate you, chances are you've heard "Macarena" in karaoke bars, at weddings, or on streaming playlists and satellite radio. To be sure, it was a phenomenon on par with the modern-day likes of "Despacito," albeit with a unique path.
"Macarena" was released originally as a rumba on Los Del Río's 1993 album, A Mí Me Gusta. A subsequent flamenco/pop-laced version made big waves in Spain, Colombia and Mexico. In Puerto Rico, "Macarena" served as an unofficial campaign theme song for then-governor Pedro Rosselló, who was seeking reelection. The song also caught fire in Europe.
In the U.S., in 1995 "Macarena" attracted the attention of Johnny Caride, a radio personality at Miami's Power 96. Caride witnessed the song bubbling up in the local clubs. Sensing something big, he recruited his friends in Miami's Bayside Boys band — Mike "In The Night" Triay and Carlos De Yarza — and singer Carla Vanessa to record a remix with English lyrics, which was later snapped up by RCA. Caride recalled in a 1996 People interview that within two hours of playing the remix on the air, "there were 200 requests for the song."
By August 1996, the resulting "Macarena (Bayside Boys Remix)" was catching fire. It No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, a position it would hold for an unprecedented 14 weeks. A video for the remix version, featuring Los Del Río alongside a troupe of women doing the "Macarena" dance, helped pushed the song to unprecedented heights, even the White House.
"This is some crowd," said then-Vice President Al Gore during his 1996 Democratic Party Convention speech. "I've been watching you do that 'Macarena' on television. And if I can have your silence, I would like to demonstrate for you the Al Gore version of the 'Macarena.'"
Alas, what goes up must come down. "Macarena" madness finally subsided by 1997, but not before an amazing 40-week run on the Billboard Hot 100, sales in excess of 4 million copies and spawning a now-iconic dance move that trips your usual conga line.
With a career dating back to the '60s, music fans may not be aware that Los Del Río have released more than 30 albums and earned "more than 250" gold record certifications. In recognition of their significant career achievements, Los Del Río will be honored as a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient at the Special Awards ceremony preceding the 18th Latin GRAMMY Awards in November.
Of course, in a game of word association, Los Del Río will forever be linked to the '90s pop-culture index under M for "Macarena." Or as Monge put it in 1996, "'Macarena' is our daughter. It is our most excellent endeavor."