C4 cricket theme mambos its way to number one

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The Independent Online
ENGLISH cricket may be proving a disaster on the field, but it has prompted a hit in the charts.

A week after England became the lowest-ranked Test nation in the world, the catchy tune accompanying Channel 4's television coverage is expected to become Britain's number one when the new pop chart is announced today.

"Mambo No 5 (A Little Bit Of...)", by Lou Bega, a part-Sicilian, part-Ugandan musician, entered the top 40 at number 33 even before its British release as fans snapped up foreign imports.

That made it the first record since The Jam's "That's Entertainment" in 1981 to make it into the charts on imports alone; and since its release by RCA records on Monday, it has spent all week selling twice as many as its nearest rival, "Mucho Mambo" by Shaft.

"It's definitely going to be number one - it's been selling double the number two spot," an RCA spokeswoman said.

It has already topped the charts in 14 countries, including Italy and Spain. Returning holidaymakers have boosted the home demand from depressed cricket fans eager to be cheered up by Bega's exuberant music.

Like this summer's newest teenybop hunk, Ricky Martin, and even Geri Halliwell, with her latest single, "Mi Chico Latino", Lou Bega is riding high on the Latino music craze. His song, written in only 15 minutes, originates from a hit by Perez Prado, known as the King of Mambo in the 1950s.

The RCA spokeswoman said that the song's initial success was particularly impressive as imports were more expensive than home releases. RCA will release a follow-up album, A Little Bit of Mambo, by next week.

A spokesman for Channel 4 said: "A few eyebrows were raised when we adopted as our theme tune a Cuban-influenced track recorded by a part-Sicilian part-Ugandan living in Germany - hardly four traditional cricketing heartlands.

"But we liked the song and thought it would appeal to young and old alike, just as our coverage has.

"Perhaps it could be played to inspire the English team the next time they're going through a rough patch."

JUST FOR THE RECORD: SPORTING HITS

Three Lions (Official Song of the England Football Team) - Skinner and Baddiel and Lightning Seeds, June 1996

Back Home - England World Cup Squad, April 1970

Nessun Dorma - theme tune from Italia '90, Luciano Pavarotti, June 1990

Blue Is the Colour - Chelsea FC, February 1972

World in Motion - England World Cup Squad/New Order, June 1990

Ossie's Dream (Spurs are on their way to Wembley) - Tottenham Hotspur FC and Chas and Dave, May 1981

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