The Songs of Summer #25: ‘Bang Bang’ by The Joe Cuba Sextet
Another song with no connection to summer, but it’s one of my Songs of Summer nonetheless. I like my playlists to be eclectic affairs, with songs from different eras and different genres. I get tired of playlists, and especialy radio stations, that only play songs of a particular time period of musical genre. That’s boring. My Songs of Summer list is no exception, and to me any decent group of summertime songs has got to have a little bit of Latin rhythm.
That’s where Joe Cuba and His Sextet come in with their amazing ‘Bang Bang.’ Joe Cuba was a famous American congo drummer known as the “Father of Latin Boogaloo,” from a time when such a thing meant something. He brought his particular brand of Latin boogaloo to the masses with Bang Bang in 1966, where it was actually quite a hit and kicked off a minor boogaloo craze. Pop music in the sixties was nothing if not interesting.
Bang Bang is a song for good times, for getting up and moving, for having a good time, in any language and any culture. It’s simple. No deep hidden meanings… In other words, it’s a great song for summer.
One of the things I love about this track is that first, it sounds like they had as much fun recording it as we have hearing it. Second, it contains something that in a lesser song would ruin the whole thing. There’s one singer in the group of singers singing the “Bang Bang” part that is a little, um, how do I put this, off. It sounds like a younger singer, probably a young girl. Listen for her. She’s the one who’s almost always a little off the beat with her ‘Bang Bangs’, and she’s completely off key. She’s also the loudest of the singers, so she’s kind of hard to miss. Except sometimes she just forgets to sing at all. I guarantee, once you hear her, you’ll never not hear her.
I love it because it’s just so unprofessional, but in a good way, and it captures the spontaneous feel of the song.
This song’s been featured recently on the soundtracks to the movies ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘ and ‘Chef‘, and both benefit greatly from its addition. I don’t even know where I first heard this song, but I’m glad to see it getting placed prominently in today’s popular culture. It is so so good.