What was the number one song in the UK on 14th January 1955?

By Hayley Beasley Dye

Rosemary is back again and with Mambo Italiano that was number one for a week and then again from 4th February for another 2 weeks.

I absolutely adore this song. It’s frenetic, rhythmic and a lot of fun. This would have been the kind of song that would have got everyone up and dancing at parties. The mix of Italian and English language, is nothing short of bizarre at times, but that just adds to the joy of this song. Any song that sings about mozzarella is a winner to me. All together now “Ats nice!”

Wikipedia

“Mambo Italiano” is a popular song written by Bob Merrill in 1954 for the American singer Rosemary Clooney. The song became a hit for Clooney, reaching number 10 in the Billboard Hot 100 and number one in the UK Singles Chart early in 1955.

Merrill reportedly wrote it under a recording deadline, scribbling hastily on a paper napkin in an Italian restaurant in New York City, and then using the wall pay-phone to dictate the melody, rhythm and lyrics to the studio pianist, under the aegis of the conductor Mitch Miller, who produced the original record. Alongside Merrill, ‘Lidianni’ and ‘Gabba’ are also listed as writers of the song, corresponding to the pseudonyms of the Italian lyricists Gian Carlo Testoni and Gaspare Abbate, respectively.

Merrill’s song provides an obvious parody of genuine mambo music, cashing in on the 1954 mambo craze in New York while at the same time allowing Miller to set up a brilliant vehicle for Clooney’s vocal talents. It is also a late example of an American novelty song in a tradition started during World War II by the Italian-American jazz singer Louis Prima, in which nonsense lyrics with an Italian-American sound are used in such a way as to present a benignly stereotyped caricature of Italian-American people (who had been classed with “enemy alien” status and discouraged from speaking Italian) as likable, slightly brash, pleasure-loving folk. Although Clooney’s own family background was Irish-American (Merrill’s was Jewish), she could perform such “Italianized” material with an entirely convincing accent, which she had readily picked up from Italian-American musicians and their families.

Lyrics

“A girl went back to Napoli
Because she missed the scenery
The native dances and the charming songs
But wait a minute, something’s wrong

Hey, mambo, mambo italiano
Hey, mambo, mambo italiano
Go, go, go you mixed up siciliano
All you calabrese do the mambo like a crazy with a
Hey mambo, don’t wanna tarantella
Hey mambo, no more a mozzarella
Hey mambo, mambo italiano

Try an enchilada with the fishy baccalà and then a
Hey cumpa’, I love a how you dance a rhumba
But take a some advice, paisano
Learn how to mambo
If you gonna be a square
You ain’t a gonna go nowhere

Hey mambo, mambo italiano
Hey mambo, mambo italiano
Go, go, Joe, shake like a Giovano
Hello, cosa dici, getta happy in the feets a when you
Mambo italiano

Shake-a baby, shake-a ’cause I love a when you take a me

Mama say stop-a or I’m gonna tell papa
And a hey già drool you don’t a have to go to school
Just make-a wid da beat bambino
It’s a like a vino
Kid, you good a lookin’ but you don’t a-know what’s cookin’ till you

Hey mambo, mambo italiano
Hey mambo, mambo italiano
Ho, ho, Joe, you mixed up siciliano
It’s a so delish a everybody come, capisci
How to mambo italiano

‘Ats nice! (unh)”

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Every UK Number One Song

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