How “Despacito” Got So Famous

Hello, I’m MusiCommentator, and boy, I did not want to talk about this song.  I really, really did not want to talk about this song.  I have insinuated and flat-out mentioned my feelings towards the song on other posts, but I have never given it that much attention.  But wow, have others been giving it a lot of attention.  Let me give you some background.

Despacito” is a single made by two Spanish artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (which has got to be one of the worst rap names I’ve heard of).  It was made about a month before the summer started, making it a good candidate for an international summer fad.  However, I do not even think the artists themselves knew how popular this song was going to become.  It’s breaking musical records left and right!  The remix version with Justin Bieber–don’t worry, I’ll get to that soon–has the most page views of any song on music lyrics website  The regular version has racked up over 3.5 BILLION views on YouTube at the time I’m writing this, and currently is tying Mariah Carey’s and Boyz II Men’s song “One Sweet Day” for the longest time at #1 on the American Billboard Top 100 Chart, and by the fame “Despacito” still has, I am pretty sure it will beat this record by the end of the week.

Now, when this song was at the peak of its success, I was completely baffled by how it garnered so much success.  It is not like there have not been foreign songs in the past that have dominated America before.  The Mexican “Macarena” was a big dance song in the 90s, and South Korean Psy’s “Gangnam Style” was the first YouTube video to get one billion views.  The difference is, though, that these songs had attributes that made them stick out to Americans compared to the many other international songs out there.  The “Macarena” invented a silly dance that was easy to learn the steps to, and “Gangnam Style”, while the lyrics are nothing spectacular, had a music video so crazy and outlandish that it was a spectacle worth seeing (and it, too, created a dance fad).  “Despacito”, on the other hand, has none of these things.  There was no fun dance step that it wanted you to replicate in the lyrics, and the music video is probably the most stereotypical Spanish music video of all time.  Sure, there was this weird, perverted humping dance in the video, but I have not seen anyone talk about the song for that purpose.

The question remains: “Why is this song so popular?”  Well, I have some theories that could answer this query.  Keep in mind, these are just theories!  Some of the points made here have little factual backing to make them true, but they are still possibilities as to why this song is still relevant.  Also, if you could not tell by now, this is not a review of the song, so if you are looking for that, go to another website.  I am not going to do a review on this song.

Theory #1: Justin Bieber

So, I mentioned earlier that Justin Bieber was on a remix of the song, which has also become wildly popular.  However, I believe that Bieber’s remix actually did a lot to boost the popularity of the original song, too.

First of all, Justin Bieber can make pretty much anything popular.  Any song Justin is on will automatically get a major increase in listens.  Pretty much anything with his name plastered on it will have a guaranteed spot on the charts.  He just has such a large fanbase that this is all possible.  So, when he hops on a song, all of his fans rush over to listen to it a few thousand times.  “Despacito” is no different.  Its success was growing, so Bieber’s managers probably told him to get on a remix of it to earn some revenue, making both the remix and the original skyrocket in popularity.

But, this is not just about Bieber’s label wanting to make extra money.  No, this is about legitimizing a song.  Let me explain.  If you are not from the country a foreign song comes from or an international artists’ core fans, you are going to think a song from another country is a fad or a meme.  Now, I am not trying to offend people from other countries.  I am just saying that when some song in a different language makes waves in your country, you know that you will most likely never hear the artist’s name again once the song’s popularity sinks.  However, Bieber made this scenario completely different.  To Americans, Justin Bieber is obviously not a fad, so when you see him appear on a song, you know it is a song to take seriously, even if slightly.  Bieber decided to make a remix of this song, so this changes everything for “Despacito”.  In ten years, this song will not be completely obscure because Bieber fans will go back and listen to their favorite artist on a song, and even if they are not there for Fonsi or Yankee, they are still listening to their song.  I mean, you never heard Dr. Dre spit some bars on “Macarena” or Taylor Swift come in as a guest feature for “Gangnam Style”.  They were songs that came and went.  This song, though, may never fully leave because die-hard Justin fans will be dedicated to it.  I know, it is a scary thought, but again, this is just a theory and a prediction.

Theory #2: A Statement On Modern Music

This theory is a bit bleak, so stay with me here.

Now, if you ask me whether modern music is good, I will confidently answer “Yes” and fight tooth and nail for the honor of that opinion.  I may talk about why in a different post, but that is for another day.  However, I do recognize that some mainstream music is very commercialized and has little heart put into it.  This is partly what led to the creation of mumble rap, but again, I’m digressing.

A big part of commercialized pop is the instrumentals.  To many radio listeners, it does not matter if the songs have any sort of lyrical complexity as long as it’s got a catchy beat you can nod along to.  “Despacito” may be the pinnacle of that idea.  It is not just that you are not listening to the lyrics, it is that you probably don’t even understand them.  But, that’s okay, right, as long as I can dance to it.  It does not matter if the lyrics are practically gibberish to my ears, as long as it would go good in the club.  I bet you more than 3/4s of the fans in America that like this song have absolutely no idea what this song is actually saying.  They just go, “Oh, it’s on the radio and it sounds hip, so I’ll buy it”.

Now, I know I just talked about two theories, but I think the theory that is the most plausible is…

Theory #3: The “No Reason” Theory

Now, I call this the “No Reason” theory because, if you were to go by this theory, the answer to the question “Why is ‘Despacito’ so famous?” would be, simply, “No reason”.  As I said in the intro to this post, this song is merely a fad.  It is really nothing else.  Sure, it may be breaking a lot of legitimate music records, but other foreign songs have in the past.  I mentioned this earlier, too: “Gangnam Style” was the first YouTube video to get a billion views, and that song was just a fad as well.  This song is nothing but a name that will be irrelevant in a year from now.

Sure, I said that this song would still be cherished by Bieber lovers in years to come, but that may not be true.  There are plenty of other Bieber songs they can get their fix from, and all his fans will completely forget the song when his next album comes out.  And, I said that this song is a reflection of the fallacies of modern music, but that may not be, either.  The “Macarena” was a fad in the 90s, and some will argue that the 90s was a golden age in music.  Really, “Despacito” is just a foreign song that got lucky by making it big in America and will never be really respected by anyone who was not a fan of Luis Fonsi and/or Daddy Yankee before this song hit the market.

Frankly, if I were to pick one of these three theories to be true, I would say this one holds the most legitimacy.  That means that the previous two theories did not even need to be mentioned.  And since this is just saying that “Despacito” is famous for no reason, I did not need to point out this theory at all.  This whole post is nonessential!…

…well, this is awkward.

Thank you for reading my seemingly pointless analysis of “Despacito’s” fame. If you liked this article, make sure to follow my website, Twitter, and Instagram, like this post, and be sure to check in to read my future work. Also, if you have something you want to see me review or make a post on, tell me in the comments. Until then, keep on listening to good music! I know I will.

6 thoughts on “How “Despacito” Got So Famous

  1. My God man I never knew the stats were that impressive, I’m gonna take theory #2 I think at this point anything can make a hit if it’s promoted properly, some what surprised fellow Spanish speaking artist Pitbull wasn’t involved he usually rules the summer in so e way or another…

    Great post as always MC

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Another reason ‘Despacito’ became so hugely popular is that it tapped into the growing Latino/Hispanic market in the U.S., as well as throughout Latin America. That, combined with the reasons you mention, all merged to result in one of the biggest hits ever.

    Liked by 1 person

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