Des­pac­ito opens doors for Span­ish songs on English ra­dio

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

NEW YORK — Des­pac­ito is eas­ily the song of the sum­mer with the suc­cess of the hit stretch­ing be­yond Span­ish­s­peak­ing au­di­ences to make it the year’s most rec­og­nized song in the United States and else­where.

Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yan­kee’s song, which has topped the Bill­board Hot 100 chart for 13 weeks and count­ing, set a record as the most streamed song on Spo­tify and is the first YouTube video to reach 3 bil­lion views. The song also has opened the door for other Span­ish tracks to get air­play on American ra­dio.

“The beauty be­hind ( Des­pac­ito) is that it was never meant to be a cross­over song. When I sat down with my gui­tar to write this song, I just wanted to write a great song that peo­ple would au­to­mat­i­cally con­nect to, and dance to, and re­ally en­joy, so it was so nice to see how — in a very or­ganic way — the whole world just con­nected to it,” Fonsi says in an in­ter­view from Spain, where he was set to per­form the world­wide hit.

“It wasn’t re­ally forced, it wasn’t gim­micky ... it’s sort of an ac­ci­dent if you will,” he says. “There’s some­thing mag­i­cal in that melody and in the beat and in the pro­duc­tion ... and peo­ple in Rus­sia and Aus­tralia and UK and France and US and South Amer­ica — ev­ery­one’s just danc­ing.”

Des­pac­ito is the first mostly Span­ish song to top the Hot 100 since Los del Rio’s Macarena in 1996. The smooth jam about slowly fall­ing in love has be­come a pop cul­ture phe­nom­e­non since its re­lease in Jan­uary, sell­ing more than 7.7 mil­lion tracks — based on dig­i­tal sales, au­dio stream­ing and video stream­ing — ac­cord­ing to Nielsen Mu­sic. It has spent 27 weeks at No 1 on Bill­board’s Latin songs charts, and while some be­lieve Justin Bieber helped make the song a hit when he jumped on its remix, it’s quite the op­po­site.

“Tech­ni­cally, the rea­son why Justin Bieber dis­cov­ered the song was be­cause it was so pop­u­lar al­ready,” says Ro­cio Guerra, Spo­tify’s head of Latin cul­ture.

Des­pac­ito had reached the Top 40 on the Hot 100, and fol­low­ing the Bieber remix — which in­cludes the pop star singing in Span­ish — the song reached No 1. The remix spent 14 weeks on top of Spo­tify’s global chart un­til last week when it was sup­planted by J. Balvin’s Mi Gente — an­other Span­ish song find­ing suc­cess on US ra­dio and the pop charts.

Mi Gente, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Willy Wil­liams, is No 30 on the Hot 100 af­ter just a month on the chart.

“I don’t think this is just some­thing that hap­pened overnight ... it’s some­thing the Latin mu­sic in­dus­try and cre­ative com­mu­nity, we’ve been work­ing so long to­ward this di­rec­tion, and I don’t think specif­i­cally only in the US, it’s a global mo­men­tum,” Guerra says.

“There has been a domino ef­fect,” adds Guerra, who said there are cur­rently eight Latin songs on Spo­tify’s global chart, which in­cludes 50 songs. “The more songs that we put on the global chart, peo­ple are get- ting more used to lis­ten­ing to songs in a dif­fer­ent language.”

She says that Spo­tify has spent the last two years push­ing Latin mu­sic in re­gions out­side Latin Amer­ica: “We’re proac­tively try­ing to push its con­sump­tion in coun­tries like Ger­many, Italy, Switzer­land, the UK (and) ob­vi­ously the US.”

And there’s proof it is work­ing. Daddy Yan­kee be­came the first Latin artist to reach No 1 on Spo­tify in June, tak­ing the spot from Ed Sheeran, and the Latin genre is third over­all glob­ally on Spo­tify, just be­hind pop and hip-hop.

Fonsi says he doesn’t want to take credit for the suc­cess of Latin mu­sic on pop ra­dio, but knows Des­pac­ito has helped set the mood.

“I hope that it’s a door that will stay open for a long time. I think it’s big­ger than just this sum­mer. I think it was (over)due for Latin mu­sic to get this at­ten­tion and I love the fact that we’re all col­lab­o­rat­ing in dif­fer­ent lan­guages,” he says. “It’s not about where you’re from or what language you’re singing in, it’s about bring­ing cul­tures to­gether and dif­fer­ent styles, and it’s good for mu­sic in gen­eral.”

LYNNE SLADKY / AP

Singers Luis Fonsi (left) and Daddy Yan­kee per­form dur­ing a show in Florida. Their song Des­pac­ito has topped the Bill­board Hot 100 chart for 13 weeks and count­ing.

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