'Des­pac­ito' open­ing doors for Span­ish songs on English ra­dio

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

"Des­pac­ito" is eas­ily the song of the sum­mer with the suc­cess of the hit stretch­ing be­yond Span­ish-speak­ing au­di­ences to make it the year's most rec­og­nized song in the US 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 said 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 said. "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.

Global mo­men­tum

"Tech­ni­cally, the rea­son why Justin Bieber dis­cov­ered the song was be­cause it was so pop­u­lar al­ready," said 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 said. "Plat­forms like Spo­tify are giv­ing ac­cess to the same songs at the same time ev­ery­where, so that's al­low­ing us to have more (Latin) artists on the (global) chart."

"There has been a domino ef­fect," added 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 getting more used to lis­ten­ing to songs in a dif­fer­ent lan­guage." She said 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.

The Latin beat can be heard on cur­rent English-lan­guage hits as well, in­clud­ing DJ Khaled and Ri­hanna's "Wild Thoughts," which sam­ples Car­los San­tana's 1999 megahit "Maria, Maria," and French Mon­tana's "Un­for­get­table," which has a reg­gae­ton vibe (J. Balvin ap­pears on its Latin remix). Fonsi said 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 said. "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." —AP

File photo shows singers Luis Fonsi, left, and Daddy Yan­kee dur­ing the Latin Bill­board Awards in Coral Gables, Fla. — AP

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