It is a reggaeton-pop song composed in common time with lyrics about having a sexual relationship, performed in a smooth and romantic way. Commercially, the song topped the charts of 47 countries and reached the top 10 of ten others, making it both Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's most successful single to date. It became the first song primarily in Spanish to top the Billboard Hot 100 since "Macarena" (Bayside Boys Mix) in 1996. On August 4, 2017, the official music video for "Despacito" became the most viewed YouTube video of all time after receiving its 3 billionth view, making it the first video on the site to reach the milestone. It later became the first YouTube video to hit 4 billion views on October 11, 2017. With its 8 million certified sales plus track-equivalent streams, "Despacito" is one of the best-selling Latin singles in the United States. Additionally, it became the world's most streamed song of all time with 4.6 billion streams. In September 2017, Billboard ranked it the fifth best Latin song of all time.
Several remix versions were released following the single's success. On March 17, 2017, both a solo pop version and a salsa version featuring Puerto Rican musician Victor Manuelle were released. On April 17, 2017, a remix version featuring Canadian singer Justin Bieber was released; this version helped to improve the song's chart performance in numerous countries, particularly in the English-speaking world. On May 5, 2017, both an electronic version produced by American trio Major Lazer and Colombian DJ MOSKA and an urban version produced by Sky were released.
Panamanian singer and songwriter Erika Ender (pictured) co-wrote "Despacito" with Fonsi
After two years without releasing new music,Luis Fonsi wanted to create "a fun track that had that Latin feel with a melody that I feel very comfortable singing and that will make people just dance." The lyrics were born in late 2015 in Fonsi's house after he expressed his desire to record a "swinging song" for his new album. Panamanian singer and songwriter Erika Ender, a Latin Grammy Award-winner, went to Luis Fonsi's house in Miami, who said to her that he woke up mulling about "writing a song called 'Despacito'." Fonsi sung the lines "Vamos a hacerlo en una playa en Puerto Rico", Ender replied "Hasta que las olas griten 'Ay Bendito'" and then they began to build the song. The Puerto Rico line was moved to the end of the song in order to not sound "so regional" and they started writing a story.
Fonsi originally composed "Despacito" as a cumbia and pop song with lyrics written as a ballad, but began to consider giving it an "urban injection" and contacted reggaeton artist Daddy Yankee, who agreed to collaborate on the song after Fonsi played him the demo. Prior to collaborating on "Despacito", Fonsi and Daddy Yankee had worked together on "Una Oportunidad", released digitally in 2010. Daddy Yankee wrote his verse and the post-chorus or hook. They recorded the song in Miami in 2016. The song was produced by Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres; the former is known as a member of Colombian pop duo Cali & El Dandee and the latter is known for previously working with David Bisbal and Ricky Martin.
Originally, Luis Fonsi focused on other songs of his album after making the demo of "Despacito". After showing the track to his producers, they and Fonsi decided to focus on "Despacito" and leave the other works aside. He stated that both Daddy Yankee and he were surprised after hearing the final song because it sounded "powerful, fresh and different." Luis Fonsi said that he does not consider it a reggaeton song but feels that "it does have a reggaeton energy and an subtle urban beat." He also affirmed that Daddy Yankee's work was a plus to the song because "it needed that explosion that only he can bring to the table." Ender stated that the track "went through several arrangements" until Fonsi got "exactly the arrangement he wanted."
Fonsi stated that he made "Despacito" a danceable song because "Latinos are known for being happy people" and that he feels the need of happy music. He added that the "urban feel" in the song's rhythm is the type that "[us Latinos] breathe in and out" and that it is "a synonym of party." According to him, "Despacito" is a very melodic song that can adapt well to many other music genres. In an interview with Billboard magazine in April 2017, Erika Ender stated that the track "made a special connection" and that the collaboration with Daddy Yankee was "a great idea." She also said that because of the sensual nature of the song, they "needed to be responsible with a good lyric" and that her approach to writing for Fonsi was "to take care of how to say things with a good taste." During the 2017 Billboard Latin Music Conference, American-Puerto Rican singer and songwriter Nicky Jam revealed that the original version of "Despacito" featured him instead of Daddy Yankee.
A 22-second sample of "Despacito" featuring part of the chorus.
Andrés Torres and Mauricio Rengifo produced "Despacito" using Pro Tools and its final mix consisted of 47 tracks. The song begins with a Puerto Rican cuatro played by Christian Nieves, which is accompanied by an acoustic guitar when Luis Fonsi starts performing. Nieves plays salsa-influenced melodies during the chorus and the hook, which contains vocal samples and "old school pop" effects based on American producer Dr. Luke. Percussion instruments guache and güira were synchronized with a hi hat in order to highlight the track's cumbia influences. The song uses the side-chaining production technique in order to make the chorus "more prominent", silencing the music as the kick drum hits. It also makes heavy use of text painting when the music is slowed down as the word "Despacito" (slowly) is performed at the beginning of every chorus. Its percussion consists of guache, cowbell, timbales, güira, and sequenced drum patterns.
Release and reception
"Despacito" was made available for digital download on January 13, 2017 by Universal Music Latin. It was released physically on April 30, 2017 in Europe as a 2-track single including the original and pop version. Some music publications believed the single's success was influenced by a trend of combining Latin pop and urban music after the release of hit singles by Nicky Jam, Thalia, Enrique Iglesias, Carlos Vives, Ricky Martin and Shakira. Fonsi considered the trend to be "the new pop", and Ender said of it, "everyone is making this type of fusions."
The song was well received from music critics. Doris Irizarry of AXS praised the fusion between "Latin sensual rhythms" and urban music, describing it as "masterful." Sebastian Wernke-Schmiesing of Dance-Charts electronic journal stated that "a simple 4/4 time, Spanish guitar sounds, a crisp bass, and the excellent vocals by Luis Fonsi and [Daddy Yankee] were enough to get a hit single from the start." He added that "'Despacito' has the magic it takes to reach the world" and that "works both on the dancefloors and on the radio." Buddy Iahn of The Music Universe described it as an "infectious tune" and expressed that its music video became very popular because it is "great music performed by two of the biggest stars in the Latin music business." Diana Marti of E! News said that "it is almost impossible not to dance to [it]." Caroline Soriano of Enstars magazine described the song's beat as "quite sexy and catchy" and defined the lyrics as "captivating." Brittany Spanos of Rolling Stone magazine described it as alluring, sexy and catchy.Leila Cobo of Billboard expressed that "Despacito" is "a great pop song", highlighting the "undeniable immediate catchiness" of the pre-chorus and the chorus.
Robert Joffred of Medium's culture blog That Good You Need stated in his review that the song has "something [very] interesting happening" and that it can be classified as a Latin-American song because of its composition and characteristics. He highlighted the use of a steel-string guitar to play flamenco-style melodies instead of a nylon-string guitar, on which flamenco is usually played, representing "a modern take on a historical musical style." Joffred also stated that what makes "Despacito" a "great song" is that it "throws decades of tradition to the wind in a very subtle way" because of the presence of "swung rhythms" when the word "Despacito" is sung at the beginning of the chorus. He referred to the text painting as "pretty genius." Petra Rivera-Rideau, author of Remixing Reggaetón: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico (2015), said that she "really likes" the song and that it is "super catchy." She also stated that "what's great about 'Despacito' is that it shows reggaeton never really went away" and that the song's success "makes [her] really excited to see what’s going to happen next."
Spanish record producer Nahúm García stated that "the way the rhythm breaks before the chorus is genius", referring to the first time Luis Fonsi performs the word "Despacito". He explained that "the brain realizes that there has been a rare breakdown and it catches its eye", and claimed that this "trick" in particular is not very common "and much less in pop music." García concluded stating that the song "is very well made." James Kellaris, composer and professor at the University of Cincinnati's business school, expressed that "'Despacito' contains earworm elements" for being "cheerful, simple, repetitive and having a sticky rhythm."
In September 2017, "Despacito" was ranked the fifth best Latin song of all time according to Billboard, whose critics stated that it is "without a doubt, one of the biggest hits in Latin music history, period." In November 2017, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee were selected as the "Stars of the Year" by People en Español magazine.
In July 2017, it was reported that tourist interest in Puerto Rico increased by 45% since the worldwide success of the song. Tour operators cite the song's music video for increasing interest in locations such as Club La Factoría and La Perla district in Old San Juan, which were featured in the video.
In July 2017, officials from the Government of Malaysia reported that "Despacito" was being banned from airing on government-owned broadcast stations as a result of public complaints. Government ministers said that the song was considered un-Islamic and that its lyrics were "not suitable to be heard."
In the United States, the single debuted at number 2 on the Hot Latin Songs chart, being Fonsi's highest-charting single since June 13, 2009, when "Aquí Estoy Yo" peaked at the top position. "Despacito" became also Fonsi's first number 1 hit single on the US Latin Digital Songs chart, with 11,000 downloads sold on the week ending on January 19, 2017. As to Daddy Yankee, it was his highest debut ever on the Hot Latin Songs chart, in which he marked his 48th career hit. It also debuted at number 3 on the US Latin Streaming Songs chart and number 19 on the US Latin Airplay chart. That same week, the single debuted at number 88 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Fonsi's third entry on that chart and Daddy Yankee's seventh. "Despacito" reached number 1 on the US Hot Latin Songs chart on February 18, 2017 and remained there for 35 consecutive weeks until October 14, 2017. It is the second-longest reign at number 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart, behind "Bailando" by Enrique Iglesias featuring Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona, which spent 41 weeks at the top position between 2014 and 2015.
Several weeks after the release of its remix featuring Justin Bieber, the single reached number 1 on the Hot 100 for the week ending May 27, 2017, becoming both Fonsi and Yankee's first number one on the chart, and Bieber's fifth. It had topped the Hot 100 for 16 consecutive weeks, tying with "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men as the longest-reigning number-one single in the chart's history. It also became the first mostly-Spanish-language song to lead the all-genre US Digital Songs chart after selling 86,000 copies on the week ending May 13, 2017. On the Billboard issue dated July 22, 2017, it became the first non-primarily-English-language song to top the all-format Radio Songs and Mainstream Top 40 charts. On October 21, 2017, "Despacito" and "Mi Gente" by J Balvin and Willy William featuring Beyoncé marked the first time that two non-primarily-English-language songs chart within the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously since the list's inception in August 1958. In the United States, "Despacito" sold 2,505,903 downloads as of September 28, 2017 and received a 55× platinum (Latin) certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on June 8, 2017, for units of over 3.3 million sales plus track-equivalent streams. The song also received a diamond certification by the Music Canada for sales plus track-equivalent streams of over 800,000 units.
Internationally, the song topped the charts of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela. The original version became the song with most radio spins in Latin America in February 2017, with 59,359 spins between the ten countries Monitor Latino measure. It broke the record for the most simultaneous number-ones on Monitor Latino's charts, with eleven on the issue dated April 2, 2017. In the Philippine Hot 100, it is the longest running number one single at 12 non-consecutive weeks.
The success of the song and its remix version led Daddy Yankee to become the most listened artist worldwide on the streaming service Spotify on July 9, 2017, being the first Latin artist to do so. Daddy Yankee stated that "this number one is not [his]" but from an entire genre, referring to reggaeton music. In June 2017, "Despacito" was cited by Billboard's Leila Cobo as the song that renewed interest in the Latin music market from recording labels in the United States. Julyssa Lopez of The Washington Post stated that the successes of "Despacito" and J Balvin's "Mi Gente" is "the beginning of a new Latin crossover era." Stephanie Ho of Genius website wrote that "the successes of 'Despacito' and 'Mi Gente' could point to the beginning of a successful wave for Spanish-language music in the US." Ho also stated that "as 'Despacito' proves, fans don't need to understand the language in order to enjoy the music", referring to the worldwide success of the song, including various non-Spanish-speaking countries.
In October 2017, Xander Zellner of Billboard credited the influence of the single's commercial success for the Latin music domination in the US mainstream market during 2017, as eleven primarily-Spanish-language songs have debuted on the Hot 100 as of October 21, compared to two in 2016 and five in 2015. American songwriter Desmond Child and Cuban musician Rudy Pérez, founders of the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame, expressed that "not since Ricky Martin's 'Livin' La Vida Loca' has there been a song in any genre that has had the global impact of 'Despacito', changing the course of pop music forever and ushering in an explosive new era of unlimited opportunities for all Latin music creators."
Daddy Yankee (left) and Luis Fonsi (right) at the bar La Factoría
The music video was released alongside the single on January 12, 2017, receiving 5.14 million views within its first 24 hours, breaking J Balvin's previous record with "Bobo" for a Spanish-language Vevo clip. It was filmed in December 2016 in La Perla neighborhood and the popular bar La Factoría in San Juan, Puerto Rico and was directed and produced by Carlos Perez. The director had previously worked with Luis Fonsi on "Corazón en la Maleta" (2014) and also with Daddy Yankee on clips including "Gasolina" (2004), "Rompe" (2005), "Gangsta Zone" (2006), "Descontrol" (2010), and "Ven Conmigo" (2011), among others. Thomas Marvel was responsible for the video's cinematography.
The video shows both artists performing the song while participating on different parties on the island. It also features Miss Universe 2006 winner Zuleyka Rivera. According to Luis Fonsi, the music video celebrates Latin American culture, saying that movement, dancing and rhythm are "engraved into his bones." He also affirms that part of the song's success was the reception of the fans, capturing the best of Fonsi's romantic ballad and danceable facets. Carlos Perez stated that the clip "directly supports the vibe of the song" and that it "is a video that has soul to it."
The first stage performance of "Despacito" was by Daddy Yankee solo in Merida, Mexico on February 27, 2017, while Fonsi performed the pop version on the L Festival on March 18, 2017 at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena in Pico Rivera, California. Justin Bieber performed the remix version in Puerto Rico on April 18, 2017 on his Purpose World Tour with Luis Fonsi as guest. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee performed "Despacito" live together for the first time at the 2017 Billboard Latin Music Awards on April 27, 2017. They performed together again on The Voiceseason 12 finals featuring contestant Mark Isaiah on May 23, 2017. On June 12, 2017, Luis Fonsi performed solo on Conan, a talk show hosted by Conan O'Brien, being his first late-night television appearance in the United States. Daddy Yankee included the song on the setlist for his Tamo En Vivo Europe Tour, which lasted from June 2 to July 9, 2017. Fonsi also included "Despacito" on his Love + Dance World Tour, which began on July 1, 2017. On September 14, 2017, Luis Fonsi performed the single on the American talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Erika Ender also performed an acoustic version of the song during a Billboard session on September 18, 2017 in order to promote her album Tatuajes.
On April 17, 2017 a remix version featuring vocals by Canadian singer Justin Bieber was released, who sang in Spanish for the first time in his career. The remix was released as a single by Universal Music Latin, Republic Records, Def Jam Recordings, RBMG and School Boy Records. The song maintained the original rhythms and Luis Fonsi translated some lines to English, singing a verse in Spanglish, while Daddy Yankee's verses were kept from the original version. It was the first collaboration between Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee with Bieber. The remix's official audio video garnered 20 million views on YouTube on its first 24 hours, making it the third-highest debut for a music-related video in 2017 as of September.
Justin Bieber and American songwriters Jason Boyd and Marty James co-wrote the version. Colombian musician Juan Felipe Samper was hired to help him sing in Spanish. According to Fonsi, Bieber wanted to record the remix version after seeing how people reacted to "Despacito" in a Colombian club. The song was recorded in Bogotá, Colombia on April 13, 2017, four days before its release. Justin Bieber was not able to sing the song during live performances, and was caught replacing portions of the lyrics with the word "blah" during one performance, in a much publicized incident. Fonsi has defended him for not knowing the lyrics, saying he has to be given "a little bit of a pass" because Spanish is not Bieber's main language.
Hilton Dresden of Out magazine described it as "unexpected and delightful" and that "Justin Bieber singing in Spanish is a highly sexual experience", defining the results of the collaboration as legendary. Caroline Soriano of Ernstars magazine stated that Bieber's voice "sounds appealing with the song", whose remix version make it sound "a little bit better."Latina's Daniela Galvez described Bieber singing in Spanish as "amazing."
Other remixes and cover versions
The first two official remixes for "Despacito" were released on March 17, 2017: a solo pop version by Fonsi and a salsa version featuring vocals by Puerto Rican musician Victor Manuelle. On May 5, 2017, two other remixes were released: an electronic version produced by American trio Major Lazer and Colombian DJ MOSKA and an urban version remixed by Colombian producer Sky. A Portuguese-language version featuring Brazilian singer Israel Novaes and without Daddy Yankee was released on July 14, 2017. This version was written by Erika Ender.
In an interview with Billboard magazine in March 2017, Luis Fonsi stated that there are several remixes for "Despacito", including an urban and a club version, mentioning that "there are some great DJs who have shown interest." He also expressed his desire to perform an acoustic version. In June 2017, English musician Ed Sheeran revealed that he wanted to record a remix version of "Despacito" but Justin Bieber "advantaged him." He also stated that he likes reggaeton music, saying that it has a "good rhythm" and that "everyone enjoys it."
Dominican musician Antony Santos released a merengue version featuring American rapper Mark B on June 26, 2017. Filipina actress and singer Kristel Fulgar published an acoustic version of the remix on June 30, 2017. Croatian-based duo 2Cellos, composed by musicians Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser, released a classical crossover version on July 19, 2017. In August 2017, a version by the Zambian musician K-Star featuring his compatriot DJ Britain was released with lyrics in Bemba and Nyanja (Zambia's two native languages), with a little bit of English to help improve the popularity of Latin American Spanish music in the country. Hungarian pianist Peter Bence, holder of the world record for most piano key hits in one minute according to the Guinness World Records, published a piano version of the song on July 26, 2017.
The song has also been remixed, with altered lyrics, for political purposes. It has been used in Argentina by Florencio Randazzo, Evert Van Tooren and Agustín Rossi for their respective TV advertisements for the 2017 midterm elections. Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro used it to call for voting in the controversial Constitutional Assembly election. Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Erika Ender showed their displeasure with the unauthorized use of the song for political purposes in Venezuela, criticizing Maduro's government and describing the use of the song as "propaganda." Fonsi said that he was never consulted or have he authorized the use of the song for political ends, "less so in the context of the deplorable situation affecting a country that I love so much as Venezuela." He also stated that his music is "for all of those that want to listen to it and enjoy it, not to use it as propaganda that tries to manipulate the will of the people that are crying out for their freedom and a better future." Despite the criticism by the artists, President Maduro continued to use the remix promoting the election, using it during a cadena. On August 16, 2017, English television host James Corden remixed the song to comment on American President Donald Trump during his talk show The Late Late Show with James Corden.
Appearances in other media
A Spanglish parody titled "El Patito" (The Rubber Duckie) by American children's television show Sesame Street was published on August 21, 2017. The song was featured on a TV commercial by Spotify and Chilean retail multinational Falabella starring Ciro Priello, Fabio Balsamo, and Gianluca Fru, three Italian comedians who gained notoriety through a viral parody video about "Despacito" on YouTube. "Despacito" will be one of the songs included on Ubisoft's upcoming dance video game Just Dance 2018.
^"Guld- och Platinacertifikat" (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Retrieved August 11, 2017. Type Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee (feat. Justin Bieber) in the top right search bar. Click on "Sok" and select Despacito (Remix) and see certification.
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