TikTok, all crazy about Bongo Cha Cha Cha (sixty-two years later)

Take a cute and catchy piece from 1959, which had already had a second youth thanks to a recent film. Run it on a social platform, and maybe get it to the ears of one or more VIPs, who - suddenly struck by its rhythm - use it as a soundtrack to improvise on a ballet.

This is how the song passes from hand to hand, is hummed and whistled, even enters the head of those who may not even have a smartphone.

Here: the hit of summer 2021 is ready. We are talking about Bongo Cha Cha Cha, one of the first cha cha cha (in fact) landed in Europe from South America. It was 1959 and the then twenty-eight year old Caterina Valente had brought it to success.

Well, this harmless little song with a festive atmosphere managed to surpass some 1,5 billion views on TikTok.

Because? How did it happen, how did the sensational boom of a song from sixty-two years ago begin? Let's find out together.

TikTok, all crazy about Bongo Cha Cha Cha (sixty-two years later)

Bongo Cha Cha Cha: era il 1959

The war years were an increasingly distant memory, Italy was in the midst of its economic boom and five years earlier Rai had started broadcasting (even if only in 1957 the whole country would have been covered by the television signal). In short: there was a great desire to have fun.

The shows were light, often entrusted to young multifaceted artists with an affable face. Like Caterina Valente, born in 1931, singer, musician, actress and showgirl.

She is made to interpret a cha cha cha written by Ralf Arnie, Ernst Bader, Werner Muller and Giuseppe Perotti, entitled Bongo Cha Cha Cha. Very light and catchy track, it brings the rhythms of South America to our latitudes. Even the text treats those places as exotic and devoid of fascinating mystery. The first lines say: Bongo la, bongo cha cha cha / Tell me about South America / What they say over there / Maybe it's fantasy and nothing more.

In the video, lit by Technicolor, Valente and the musicians sing and dance together with a series of other characters, and in the second part they leave room for a couple of dancers who show the Italian public the movements of this new and curious dance that makes people smile even from the name, the cha cha cha.

The success

The song, new and simple to listen to, immediately caught the public, especially because it was included in the Personality album, whose homonymous hit - she too - had a long success. Thanks also to different interpretations of great artists, Mina above all.

The second life of Bongo Cha Cha Cha

Forgotten or almost for decades, Bongo Cha Cha Cha is back for the first time (and to be honest on tiptoe) as the soundtrack of Elle s'en va, Emmanuelle Bercot's 2013 film with Catherine Deneuve.

Ma the real rebirth of Bongo Cha Cha Cha began with its inclusion in the film Spider-Man: Far from Home, directed in 2019 by Jon Watts. The scene in the film in which the song appears is enjoyable: Peter Parker is at the airport and fears that the security guards will discover the Spider-Man costume in his suitcase.

Two years pass, and in the summer of 2021 the song is remixed by the Goodboys, British DJs and producers who have collected several platinum records. It is a trio composed of Joshua Grimmett, Ethan Shore and Johannes Shore, who among other things collaborated with the Italians Meduza, icons of international electronic music, on the single Lose control.

For Bongo Cha Cha Cha it is a resounding success. First in the United States and Germany, and quickly in the rest of Europe. A few days ago the dizzying figure of one and a half billion views on the social TikTok was exceeded.

In Italy, the song entered the top 30 of radio stations and reached the first place in the Viral Spotify Italy ranking.

TikTok, all crazy about Bongo Cha Cha Cha (sixty-two years later)
Vector illustration of a couple dancing on green

The thrust of the VIPs

The hashthag #bongochachacha goes crazy thanks to the fact that several public figures have appropriated it, so to speak, to improvise sketches and ballets. Like the great Italian swimmer Federica Pellegrini, dancing in the shower on the last day of the Tokyo Olympics. Or like the influencers Giulia De Lellis and Emily Pallini.

TikTok, all crazy about Bongo Cha Cha Cha (sixty-two years later) Bongo Cha Cha Cha 1,29 EUR Acquista on Amazon

More and less famous characters

The amplification of the Bongo Cha Cha Cha phenomenon is due to the fact that social networks like TikTok are, in a certain sense, fully democratic. Because if Federica Pellegrini can dance to the notes of the piece by Valente, even a complete stranger who is overweight and devoid of the slightest sense of rhythm can do it.

The temptation to reproduce the same exploits of famous people is too strong, and therefore the platforms are teeming with more or less involuntarily ridiculous Caribbean dances, performed by more or less unknown people, all with an inevitable, optimistic and terribly summery smile on their lips. .

Meanwhile, somewhere in the world, ninety-year-old Caterina Valente will be laughing too.

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