Dean Martin - Mambo Italiano [1954]

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Dean Martin - Mambo Italiano [1954]

"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 the Top Ten in record charts in the US and France and No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart early in 1955. The song has shown enduring popularity, with several cover versions and appearances in numerous films.
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 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, she could perform such "Italianized" material with an entirely convincing accent, which she had readily picked up from Italian-American musicians and their families.
It was successfully covered by the popular Italian-American star Dean Martin.

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