It’s hard to find somebody who doesn’t love bananas. When I told my editora that August 27th was the international Banana Lover’s Day she literally went nuts (you see what I did there, I just avoided an easy, cheesy, pun). And before she succumbed to her instincts and had to run to the fruit stand down the street to grab a fresh one, she asked me to put together a list of banana-themed songs in anticipation to this holiday that nobody knows about but we should all be celebrating (based on the universal truth behind the axiom in the beginning of the paragraph).
Honestly, we don’t even know if that holiday is for real or it’s just a meme, but we loved the excuse for doing a banana-centric top ten and went with it. After all, we all come from repúblicas bananeras, so lets all give in to our natural cravings and indulge in some banana love.
Excuse me for throwing this bad flashback to some of the cheesiest, most horrible moments in the history of assembly-line, casting-based Latin pop hits. This is exactly the type of Sábado-Gigante-crap that most gringos think we listen to all the time.
Whenever I meet clueless gringos and tell them that I DJ Latin music, I know for a fact that this is the type of regurgitated musical vomit that pops up in their head. Add a couple of girls with fake hair and faker boobs lip-syncing while doing some lame-ass choreography to some nonsense lyrics (¿la bolita que qué?) and there you have it, the formula for the ultimate most annoying one-hit-wonder since “Lambada” and “Macarena.”
Don’t worry, stick around for the rest of the list, I promise it gets better.
09. “Loco Bananas”
by Big Pun ft. Tony Sunshine
I didn’t know this one. I’m a big fan of Big Pun but this is an unreleased bootleg joint, I think. I was just looking for songs that had puns with bananas and well, google put two and two together and did its magic.
The late Boricua rapper was really a master of word manipulation and his lyrics are full of witty rhymes and yes, puns. He probably liked bananas too, but I don’t think he was much into the healthy diet lifestyle. Anyway, there’s no real reference to the fruit on this one here, and (unlike most other songs on this list) no phallic double-entendres, it’s just about him and his buddy Tony being crazy outta control and full of bravado. Don’t you know I’m loco?
08. “Chiclete com Banana”
by Gilberto Gil & Marjorie Estiano
As you’ll notice on this list, nobody loves bananas more than Brazilians, they have hundreds of songs dedicated to the fruit and this one must be the most iconic one of them all. Originally recorded in 1959 by the legendary forró pioneer Jackson do Pandeiro, the song isn’t really about eating bubblegum and banana at the same time but about mixing foreign (in this case American) influences with the local musical roots (samba rock anyone?).
Gilberto Gil has been covering the song since the ’70s turning it into a sort of samba anthem. Also, not directly connected to this song (but maybe inspired by it), there’s a popular group of axé music called Chiclete Com Banana that’s been around in Bahia since the ’80s and chose the name for the same reason: foreign and local influences mixed together.
In 1980, carioca bossa nova singer Joyce penned this song about bananas that surprisingly it’s just about that, simple, yummy, yellow bananas. No metaphors, no hidden sexual innuendo, just delicious and nutritious tropical fruits.
Sure, it’s a lot more fun listening to female singers referencing bananas in other provocative manners and seeing them eating them in fellatio evocations (skip to the end of this list if that’s what you’re looking for, you perv), but we also enjoy bananas in their original form (or in banana bread, or smoothies, or with dulce de leche!).
06. “Banana No Más”
by Mo’ Horizons feat. Nené Vásquez
German production duo Mo’ Horizons has been digging deep into the Latin musical roots for a while now, trying always to come up with some of the funkiest dancefloor tunes of recent times.
For their latest album, instead of going the sample route they formed a live band and they named it The Banana Soundsystem and of course, with a name like that, they needed some banana-themed tracks.
There’s not one, but two on that same album, this one being the first one, with Venezuelan guest vocalist Nené Vásquez who helps recreate some real tropical heat in the cold German port-town of Hannover.
by Sergio Mendes feat. Mr. Vegas
[Brazil / Jamaica]
This came out back in 2005 in the Will.I.Am-produced Timeless, and it really is a timeless tune. The Gilberto Gil/Jõao Donato original has been covered and remixed numerous times by international artists in many different forms.
This version, however, with Jamaican dancehall toaster Mr. Vegas laying down the overdubs is probably the most memorable one of recent times. At least I keep on playing it in almost all my DJ sets and people still love it way more than anything else the Black Eyed Peas rapper/producer has put out since.
04. “Aquí Te Pillo Aquí Temazo”
by Cookin’ Bananas
Bananas here are part of the artist’s name. Well, kinda, Cookin’ Bananas is not a formal group but the spontaneous name of the collaboration between Barcelona’s iconic rapper Mucho Muchacho (of 7 Notas 7 Colores) and the dream team of producers known as Cookin’ Soul. So even if the song is not explicitly about bananas, it’s full of references to them.
If the sample used on the beat sounds familiar to you it’s because you probably watch too many Quentin Tarantino movies. He has used a snippet of the original “Funky Fanfare” right before the opening credits on his recent flicks. It was also sampled in a very similar way by rappers Danger Mouse and MF Doom on their track “Old School” featuring Talib Kweli. So yeah, it’s not the most original or obscure sample ever but it’s still dope what they’ve achieved with it on this killer track.
03. “El ritual de la banana”
by Los Pericos
I was in six grade when this song came out (yeah, I’m that old) and I can still clearly remember the revolution that it unleashed in Argentina.
Not only was it a super catchy party tune that became an instant hit, it was sung in some sort of unintelligible English with a very cryptic message (were they talking about masturbation? or about smoking ganja?), and it opened up the doors for a local reggae explosion of massive proportions.
It was also one of the first, if not the first, Argentine music videos to include cutting-edge animation (by the standards of the day). Rock snobs dismissed it as a pop one-hit-wonder (how could anybody follow up such a debut?) but 25 years later, even after losing the lead singer, Los Pericos are still the indisputable kings of South American reggae.
If something we know for sure after watching the video for Bonde do Rolê‘s first single off their new album, is that these guys really love fruits, more for their sexy qualities than the nutritious ones.
So in that same album, it shouldn’t surprise you to find a song dedicated exclusively to bananas and the women who can make them go bigger (“makes small banana into big banana tree”) and rise with their sensual dance, to end up eating them, of course (“I like to eat some big boy banana, I like it tropical not americana”). How subtle.
01. “L.O.V.E. Banana”
by João Brasil feat. Lovefoxxx
This song stirred up quite a bit of controversy earlier this year when bloggers pointed out the alleged similarities with Madonna’s “Give Me All your Luvin’.” Honestly? I don’t buy it. Here at Remezcla we l.o.v.e. Brazilian music, we l.o.v.e. tecno brega, we l.o.v.e. Cansei de Ser Sexy (that’s Lovefoxxx‘s band), and we l.o.v.e. Man Recordings (the German label that released this track).
We pretty much spend all our days looking online for cool new videos and songs to share with you and we hadn’t heard this song before Madonna debuted hers at the Super Bowl. Now, you mean to tell me a 54 year old lady is more hip to new Latin music than us? Hell no! OK, maybe that was M.I.A.‘s input, I’ll give you that, she definitely knows a thing or two about baile funk, but accusing Madonna of intentional plagiarism (or imperialistic cultural appropriation, if you wear a tinfoil hat) is giving her too much credit.