Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia

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"Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia"
Single by the Cuban Boys
from the album Eastwood
Released 13 December 1999[1]
Format CD single, cassette
Genre Dance-pop
Length 3:17
Label EMI
the Cuban Boys singles chronology
"Blueprint For Modernisation EP"
"Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia"
"Inertia Kicks"
"Blueprint For Modernisation EP"
"Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia"
"Inertia Kicks"

"Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia" (also known as "C vs. I", meaning "the experts versus the intellectual elite") is a song by the Cuban Boys. The song consists almost in its entirety of a sampled loop from "Whistle Stop" by Roger Miller which was featured in the Disney movie Robin Hood. The sample was first featured on the Internet as part of "The Hampster Dance" song on the website of the same name.

The song's closing lines are of an announcer of a children's radio show:

"And this is your Uncle Dan saying good night.
Good night, little kids, good night.
We're off? Good, well that oughta hold the little bastards."

This last line, usually omitted on radio play, is itself a sample from Kermit Schafer's 1950s "recreation" of a supposed on-air blooper by 1920s children's radio presenter, "Uncle Don". In fact, this faux pas is an urban legend.[2] The sample caused many complaints to the band's label EMI, enough for a Parental Advisory sticker to be included on the single by the end of the single's first week of release,[1] presumably by those assuming the song to be aimed at children. Additionally, the sample was left unedited on Now 45 and when the song was played by Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 1 in November, the broadcast of the song which eventually greenlit the single's release by EMI, the sample was again unedited, causing much controversy.[1]

Another notable quote within the song is taken from the 1950s dramatization of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth: "Don't be too happy. After a couple of months of this you'll be smacking your lips at the thought of salt beef."

The song was first aired on John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show on April 7, 1999 and quickly became one of the most requested songs on his show, surpassing even "God Save the Queen" by the Sex Pistols.

After being included on a free sampler CD on the industry magazine The Tip Sheet, the song caught the attention of numerous large record labels including EMI, Parlophone and RCA, thanks mostly to the efforts of Jonathan King. The band eventually signed for EMI. They were given £25,000 to record a video for the song which ended up featuring a giant fibreglass melon covered in trifle and a live-action hamster singing along.

Originally scheduled for release as a single in November 1999, the release date was threatened to be pushed back to some time in January 2000 until the song was played on Jo Whiley's afternoon radio show. It received much the same attention as when it had been played on Peel's show. The decision was made to move the release to December 13 to put it in line for the Christmas number 1 slot. It managed to get to number 4 in the Christmas chart week,[3] being beaten by Westlife's "I Have a Dream". The song did however top John Peel's Festive Fifty for that year.

Naturally, the song grew extreme reactions. Music journalist Charles Shaar Murray said the song was "eloquent in it’s sheer vacuity" during a highbrow debate on Channel 4 News, and Cliff Richard, whose song "The Millennium Prayer", which had been number 1 in the three weeks before the chart debut of "Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia" and was released to very negative reviews, said the song was "awful" during an appearance on Newsround.[1]

The band's performance on Top of the Pops of the song, reportedly unaired, saw the band dressed in lab coats and covered in cobwebs.[1]

Because of the relative obscurity of the Cuban Boys both before and after the single, they are generally considered to be a one-hit wonder.

The people behind the Cuban Boys went on to score further one-hit wonder successes with a remake of "Rhinestone Cowboy" with Glen Campbell, a novelty kids band called the Barndance Boys, and the US club hit "I Am Gothic" under the name Spray.

Track listings[edit]


  1. "Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia"
  2. "Fluorescent Dream Beams"
  3. "Datacrime"