Chart Rewind: In 1996, The ‘Macarena’ Craze Captured the Hot 100

Before “Despacito,” the “Macarena” dance craze proved the viability of a Spanish crossover hit and ruled the Hot 100 for 14 weeks.

It only took four years, three countries, two Spaniards and a Miami DJ team, but on Aug. 3, 1996, Los Del Rio’s “Macarena” topped the Billboard Hot 100, wrapping an improbable journey to the summit of the American pop charts for a song whose origin dates to a 1992 party in Venezuela.

There, Los Del Rio – the duo of Antonio Romero Monge and Rafael Ruíz Perdigones from Seville, Spain – was inspired by a woman named Madalena, which led Romero to craft the melody that would become “Macarena” during a 1993 studio session.

The track arrived on U.S. shores via Miami, after then-WPOW (Power 96) DJ Jammin Johnny Caride heard it at a local nightclub. Although his station avoided playing exclusively-Spanish songs, Caride persuaded his bosses to make an exception. The program director demanded an English version, so Caride recruited two partners to rework the lyrics while retaining the original hook.

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