Deconstructing The Perfect Dance Song: Kaoma’s Lambada

If you asked me to name the best dance song of all time, off the top of my head, it would be none other than Lambada, Kaoma’s interpretation.

Even though the song never quite took off in the US as it did in Europe, I feel many see this breezy summer tune as the quintessential dance song.

There were 15 other variations of the Lambada tune before Kaoma finally nailed it and created an international fever.

It’s no surprise that the track hit number one on many music charts, but… why? Do yourself a favor and press play on the video below, and then read on as you listen.

So, what makes the Lambada so great?

There are some elements of the song which are often used as a formula in contemporary dance tracks.

  • Vocals
  • Catchy melody
  • Bouncy bassline
  • “Railroad” shakers
  • Great tempo
  • Near-infinite replay value

Of course, many modern electronic dance tunes have similar structure and composition, so there has to be more to it than just those few basic things.

We Must Go Deeper

The tempo and rhythm of the tune allows for a few types of dances, such as salsa and merengue – which are hugely popular.

The song is mixed in such a way as to not be too taxing to listen to, but also has some elements which really stand out – such as the uncommon, in American dance music, use of the accordion.

The vocals complement the music perfectly, and perhaps the fact that they are in Portuguese adds mystery and exotic vibe.

Overall, the sound is tropical, with fills of bongos, marimbas and other carribean instrumentation – creating a driving dance vibe.

The melody moves up and down quite a bit, which can sometimes be taxing to listen to, especially on repeat, but the Lamba somehow nails the perfect balance, perhaps due to the use of multiple instruments.

Even though the song is, in essence, very repetitive, it benefits from the use of various instruments to keep things interesting throughout.

The song ends in a classic fade-out, which I like as it makes me feel as though it’s still playing somewhere – but I walked away from the party.

Length-wise the song is short, by modern dance standards, clocking in at just over three and a half minutes. But, perhaps it’s time to start shortening dance tracks from seven-minute-plus monsters to tighter packages.

This article isn’t meant as a how-to, but rather an analysis of one of the greatest dance songs of all time.


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