Latin Hit “Despacito” Rides the Summer Radio Waves

By Emily Santiago-Molina

Ruling the radio waves across the nation, the acclaimed bop hit of the summer “Despacito” has risen to the top of the music industry. The Latin pop song by Puerto Rican artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee has dominated the Latino community since its release in January. However, the song didn’t truly arrive on the U.S. music charts until Justin Bieber was featured singing several of the lyrics in English, translated to appeal to a larger audience. After his involvement, the song shot to the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 list, leaving its mark with English-speaking listeners everywhere. With its rising popularity and reggae beat, a win for the Latino community is in sight.

“Despacito” remained at number one for 16 weeks on Billboard’s list, the second Latin song to make its way on the charts since the “Macarena” by Los Del Rio in 1996. The music video gained over three billion views on YouTube, featuring a scenic little neighborhood filled with locals dancing and partying, painting a small picture of the Latin American culture the singers are so proud of.  Despite the original track having spent over 30 weeks on the Hot Latin Songs chart, it didn’t fully transition to English radios until Bieber took part. The artist reportedly asked to be featured on the Spanish hit, but after recording his parts in the studio, including some Spanish lyrics, Bieber’s memory proved to be problematic. At one of his concerts, the singer began to play the song but substituted the Spanish words he didn’t know with “burrito” or “Dorito”, setting a disrespectful tone for the rest of his involvement with the song. Luis Fonsi did defend his lack of fluency, attributing it to the tricky lyrics; however, Bieber also posted similar acts of “forgetting” on his Instagram story. Although his association majorly contributed to the song’s success, “Despacito” claimed its own popularity before the “Baby” singer noticed it.

Latin artists have been making their way to and from the charts with bops like “Macarena” or “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias. “Despacito” singers Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee aren’t strangers to making hits, each having long-standing careers that speak for themselves, each having started in the 1990s. Having their own successful careers throughout Latin America, the two artists were pleased to have their song become so popular in the States, and eventually around the world. Following years of recognition and popularity in their respective home and neighboring countries, their song landing the number one spot called for celebration in their community.

Their song still dominates the radio stations, both the remix and the original tune playing over the waves. Luis Fonsi has joined Justin Bieber on his tour in Puerto Rico, and has even made appearances on different television talk shows, such as Ellen and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The song stands on its own, calling attention to the Latin world of music U.S. listeners wouldn’t notice otherwise. It has been awhile since artists like Gloria Estefan and Enrique Iglesias sang their way into the hearts, or radios, of the English-speaking people living in North America. Fonsi and Daddy Yankee have created a Spanish spark that is meant to be acknowledged by everyone who enjoys rhythm and love songs. But whether you can’t stop streaming or you can’t wait for its reign to be over, “Despacito” has brought back the Latin sound to our ears, and will make the summer of 2017 one to remember.