- The Washington Times - Monday, October 28, 2002

MADRID
Now that "Macarena" has become a distant memory, along comes "The Ketchup Song" and dance. The Spanish pop tune with gobbledygook lyrics is topping charts around the world, and it's accompanied by arm-waving, knee-knocking gyrations.
The three sisters who do the song teamed up just a year ago and named themselves Las Ketchup as an homage to their flamenco-guitarist father, nicknamed El Tomate.
The single has sold 2.5 million copies from Austria to Australia. In Europe, it's No. 1 in sales in 15 countries, says London-based Music and Media magazine. The album that features the song has sold 900,000 copies around the world, reaching gold status in much of Latin America.
Teenagers in Kosovo love it. One Danish Internet portal offers the melody for downloading as a cell-phone beep. A version in Mandarin Chinese is planned for the world's most populous nation.
Sony Music thought the sisters had potential when it signed them, but no one expected all this, marketing director Jose Mateos says.
"The music business is not an exact science," Mr. Mateos says.
Indeed, the limelight is all over the Munoz sisters Pilar, 29, Lola, 26, and Lucia, 19 and their song about a fashion-conscious gypsy named Diego who makes up his own brand of rap.
Because the song has cut the mustard with listeners in Europe and Latin America, the sisters hope the United States will relish it, too. It's already rising on the singles charts. This week, the women are visiting Miami and New York to promote the single and the LP, called "Hijas del Tomate," or "Daughters of Tomato."
The lyrics of their song, known in Spanish as "Asereje," are based on snippets from the 1979 classic "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang, but they're transmogrified with a staccato twist from Las Ketchup's native Andalusia region.
The refrain goes like this: "Asereje ja de je de jebe tude jebere sebiunouba majabi an de bugui an de buididipi."
That's not Spanish, it's gibberish.
The ditty ruled dance floors and radio waves so thoroughly this summer in Spain, it became the song of the vacation season. Now any self-respecting Spanish adolescent can rattle off Las Ketchup's goofy riff.
The version released in the United States and most other non-Spanish-speaking countries is called "The Ketchup Song (Hey Hah)." The refrain is the same, but the intelligible part of the song it actually has one switches to Spanglish.
The song's wildfire spread is reminiscent of the "Macarena," the 1996 song and dance by the Spanish duo Los del Rio.
"Indeed, the similarities are there," says Music and Media's charts editor, Raul Cairo.
Sony's Mr. Mateos says the seed of Las Ketchup's popularity may lie in summer vacation, when millions of tourists flock to Spain's beaches and nightclubs and load up on whatever music is hot.
Earlier this month, when the Munoz sisters sang their song on one of Germany's most popular TV shows, 13 million people tuned in and watched as David Bowie, Cindy Crawford and other glitterati did the dance.
Flash in the pan?
Well, can you name Los del Rio's follow-up to "Macarena"?

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