Some people only consider those musicians who have scored an English-language charting single in the United States successful, and that simply isn’t true. Being able to claim such an accomplishment is surely a sign of having “made it,” but it’s not the only thing that deems a career lucrative. Just look at Luis Fonsi before 2017, as he was one of the most powerful artists in the Latin music world, even though most people who didn’t speak Spanish probably didn’t know who he was.
This past year changed all of that, and now he has conquered the charts and made his mark on history in both English and Spanish, which is something very few people have ever managed.
Fonsi and frequent collaborator Daddy Yankee (another force to be reckoned with in Latin music) teamed up and released their “Despacito” single in the first few days of January. It immediately took off running, and the world would never be the same after it was unleashed. Every fan of Latin music around the world embraced the track warmly, and it wasted no time rocketing up charts in Spanish-speaking nations, topping most of them. The track even became somewhat popular here in America, and it was slowly climbing on the Hot 100, which is rare for a song not sung in the most widely-spoken language in this country.
Things were going well, but everything was kicked into overdrive when, out of nowhere, Justin Bieber released a new version of “Despacito” featuring his vocals. The internationally adored pop singer took the time to write some lines and sing in both English and Spanish, which is something he had never tried before. As is the case whenever he drops any new piece of music, his millions of devoted fans rushed to stream and buy the remix, and it received intense media coverage.
In just the span of a few weeks, “Despacito” shot to No. 1 in most countries, including here in the States. That fact was enough to certify the track as historically important, but it wasn’t even close to done yet.
“Despacito” (the version featuring Bieber) ended up ruling the all-genre Hot 100 for 16 consecutive weeks, which tied it for the most frames spent at the top of all time. Now, only two songs—Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day,” and now “Despacito”—own that spot in the history books. It’s highly possible that no other track will ever join them. 16 weeks at No. 1 is a near-impossible dream for any single, but the fact that even with the Biebs on board, “Despacito” is still almost entirely in Spanish, makes the accomplishment all the more incredible and special.
The video that accompanies the tune (this time without the Canadian pop star in tow) needed less than a year to become the first treatment on YouTube to reach three billion, and then four billion plays, and it is by far the most popular video ever uploaded to the site.
Now that they have one of the biggest hits of all time to his credit, the doors are flying open for Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, and both have already collaborated with the likes of Demi Lovato, DNCE, Nicki Minaj, RedOne and many others. The two powerhouses have albums on the way which are sure to be huge when they finally arrive, and with the public now familiar with who they are, they could realistically score many more hits and remain honorable and respected tastemakers when it comes to Latin crossover success.
Next, get your #TBT on with this classic Justin Bieber interview where he meet fans and talks his Believe album in Fuse's 2012 special: