"The Ketchup Song (Aserejé)" is the debut single by Spanish pop group Las Ketchup, taken from their debut studio album Hijas del Tomate (2002). It was released on 10 June 2002, and became an international hit later that year.
In addition to the original Spanish version, the song exists in forms with Spanglish and Portuguese verses, although the nonsensical chorus is identical in all three versions. This song reached number-one in the United Kingdom, as well as 26 other countries worldwide. As of 2006, the song has sold over 7 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.
The song tells the story of a pimp-like, gypsy (afrogitano) with mystical qualities. Just after its release, the song became controversial because of rumors that it had emphatic references to Satanism, the devil and the inferno. The song's dance routine was a novelty in the early 2000s. Furthermore, the song and its dance moves were featured in the 2012 game Just Dance 4.
Las Ketchup was first introduced to Columbia Records through Shaketown Music, a small record label in Córdoba, Andalusia, who sent out the group's demo to a number of different record companies. The demo featured the songs "Asereje" and "Kusha Las Payas." When A&R Javier Portugués and Columbia director Raúl López listened to the demo, they stared at each other in delight exclaiming, "Wow, this is fantastic!" At first the intention was to arrange a distribution deal with ShakeTown Music but upon hearing the song they realised its international potential and so negotiated for Las Ketchup to sign with Sony.
The song is written in the key of Eb minor and follows the chord progression of Ebm–C#–B–Abm–Bb7 in the chorus. The pre-chorus uses an altered chord (B minor), or a modal interchange, as the cadence. According to Pandora.com, the song features "mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation, humorous lyrics, and electric guitar riffs".
The song is about a transcendentally seductive man called Diego, who walks into a crowded nightclub at midnight on a Friday. He is described as "looking fine" with the "moon in his pupils (con la Luna en las pupilas)" as he checks out "every girl in sight". He is a regular, always "there in the disco (allí en la disco)", "playing sexy", "feeling hotter" and he dances like "he does the mambo". The DJ, who knows Diego, routinely plays the song "on the spot always around twelve" for him, where Diego dances to it. His dance moves and visage "hypnotize" the spectators in the club, where "some will call" him "charming (chuleria)". Mystically, Diego habitually "comes and disappears" in the club, convincing the people there that this a work of "witchcraft ("brujeria"). Due to this conjure, they are led to believe that he is "the real, Rastafari afrogitano".
The chorus is reminiscent of Spanish, but is actually a nonsensical distortion of the 1979 rap hit "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang.
I said a hip, hop, the hippie to the hippie: Aserejé ja de je de jebe
The music video was shot at Palm Beach, Estepona in Spain, at Chiringuito bar.
The video starts with the female band members laying out a carpet on the ground and putting the bar stools on display to set up their musical show. They then serve people exotic beverages at the beach bar. A male bar attendant with an afro enthusiastically pours drink in a glass and juggles a bottle around. Meanwhile, more and more beach-goers are shown drawing in to the bar, to watch the trio's performance. In some shots of the video, the trio would be performing near wooden window frames which are laid individually on the sandy beach.
During the song's chorus, the band members perform their signature dance moves of this song, alongside other visitors who also joyously participate. The band is then assisted to stand up on a table, where they execute their Asereje dance in front of a larger, jubilant crowd who gleefully jive in to the dance. By the end of the video, the crowd becomes jam-packed and in multitudes, with the young and old dancing to the song near the beach bar.
For the first dance move, the hands must be held open facing down and continuously waving them over another two times for six beats. The second involves tossing the thumb over the shoulder twice, right before spinning one's arm around each other while raising from the waistline to face level. The last move of the dance involves placing the back of one's hand on the forehead and the palm of the other hand on the back of the head while knocking one's knees together a couple of times.
Andy Thomas from Drowned In Sound gave the song a 9 out of 10, stating, "The Ketchup Song is better than the Macarena...", while acknowledging that the song is "not smart, it's not clever, and it's not going to get a single positive review outside of the teeny bop press." Thomas described the song's band members (Las Ketchup) as "three slightly odd looking women from Spain who are the proud exponents of this year's Macarena. It's got dance moves (wiggle your hands, thumb a lift, raise your arms, knock your knees together) and a sunny video where the trio serve drinks in a beach bar."
The song reached the top of the charts in virtually every country it charted, except for the Billboard chart, where it peaked at number 54. In France, the song reached number-one for eleven weeks and eventually sold 1,310,000 copies, making it the best-selling single of 2002, and the second best-selling of the 21st century in the country, behind "Un Monde parfait" by Ilona Mitrecey. Furthermore, the song was the 50th best-selling single of the 2000s in the UK.
The controversy that sparked was rooted in the title of the song, "Aserejé", which—if broken down—supposedly makes reference to a demonic being. The letter 'A' in Spanish means (to); ser (be); and hereje (heretical).
Aserejé, ja, de je, de jebe tu de jebere sebiunouva, majabi an de bugui an de buididipi reportedly means "Asejeré" (Spanish: un ser hereje — "a heretic being"), ja (the letters of Jehovah), deje, dejebe tu dejebe (deja tu ser — leave your being); if connected, it reads un ser hereje Jehová deja tu ser, or, "a heretic being Jehovah leave your being." Other lyrics like No es cosa de brujería que lo encuentre to' los días (pecando) por donde voy caminando ("It's not witchcraft the fact that I find him (sinning) everyday wherever I walk through") supposedly make references to a demonic being, just like Diego tiene chulería ("Diego has natural charm"), which some critics say it literally means that the Devil is a beautiful angel.
The Spanish lyrics, such as, Mira lo que se avecina, a la vuelta de la esquina viene Diego ("Look what's coming up, around the corner comes Diego") supposedly signifies Diego as some kind of messenger. Con la Luna en las pupilas ("With the moon in his pupils") supposedly means Diego can only be seen at night; Y donde más no cabe un alma ("And there, where no soul can be squeezed in") supposedly means hell; Y el DJ que lo conoce toca el himno de las doce ("And the DJ that knows him [the messenger] plays the midnight hymn") is supposedly a reference to Satanic rituals, which usually occur at midnight.
The group members, however, have insisted that the song is in large parts nonsensical rather than satanical.