Luis Fonsi’s song “Despacito” has had a couple revisions, the most recent being the one with Justin Bieber on lyrics. In fact, it’s the first Spanish #1 hit since 1996’s “Macarena.”
People have been asking Luis Fonsi about the song. “What makes it so popular?” “That’s probably the question I get asked the most, and I don’t have a perfect answer.”
That’s it. It’s the most popular Spanish song in 21 years, and he has no idea why. It’s Luis Fonsi’s 3rd song to break onto the Hot-100 chart sitting in first place for 7 weeks now, with the other two of his songs never making it higher than 90. Is it the catchy tune? Catchy lyrics, even though we still have no idea what the translation is (we should probably look into that). Actually, and this was accidentally done on purpose (huh?) when he wrote the first version of the song. Being called a “happy accident,” he deliberately sings “despacito” (the word, not the name) phonetically as “Des-pa-cito.” This actually makes it easier for non-spanish speakers to “latch” onto the word. “Despacito” means “slowly,” by the way.
How did Bieber get on the record? He asked to be added. He was on tour in South America when he heard the song in a club, and loved everyone’s reaction to the song. Wanting to be a part of it, he had his people call Luis’ people, and boom bam, suddenly a hit song in America.
It’s a really cool story and an awesome look into how songwriting and publication happens through a ladder of processes, from writing to recording, remixing, and more recording. Sometimes it even takes 2 or 3 years for a song to become a hit after the original release. Macarena for example, looping back to the first paragraph of this story, “Macarena” was released (early version) in 1993, and wasn’t a #1 hit until 1996.