Experts Credit Justin Bieber’s ‘Despacito’ With ‘Globalizing’ Latin Music

With artists like Prince Royce, J Balvin, and Maluma all having found their way to many summer playlists, one thing’s for certain: Latin music is taking over the world. While Latin music’s steady increase in popularity can’t be pinned to just one artist, some experts are crediting Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber’s 2017 hit single “Despacito” with bringing a much-deserved spotlight to the genre.

Despacito singer Justin Bieber headshot in a pink hat and sunglasses
Justin Bieber | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber’s ‘Despacito’ becomes a hit

Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi released the original version of “Despacito,” featuring legendary reggaeton artist Daddy Yankee, in January 2017. Then, they released an English remix a few months later featuring Justin Bieber. 

The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent a record 16 weeks in that spot, according to Billboard. This tied the number of weeks Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s hit “One Sweet Day” spent in the top spot. 

“Despacito” also took the title for most weeks in the top spot on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart. And it became the most-watched music video on YouTube. Plus, it was played on pretty much every radio station, at every party, and at every sporting event for weeks.

How ‘Despactio’ helped to grow Latin music

According to industry experts, “Despacito” has played a pivotal role in pushing Latin music forward. Per The Hustle, the “post-‘Despacito’ effect” has given rise to more mainstream artist collaboration with Latin artists.

Additionally, the charts have seen an increase in artists exploring their Latin roots. Take Selena Gomez’s first Spanish-language album, “Revelación,” and Camila Cabello’s “Familia,” for example. Furthermore, in 2021 three Latin music genres — Latin, Latin trap, and reggaeton — broke into Spotify’s worldwide top 20.

So even though some might simply remember “Despacito” as a fun summer pop anthem, its legacy and longterm impact on the Latin genre is undeniable.

Latin music continues to grow its impact

According to The Hustle, between 2020 and 2022 Coachella saw its Latin acts double. Plus, more Latin-focused festivals have sprung up based on demand. And Latin music saw a 35% year-over-year increase in revenue in the United States, making $886 million. Bad Bunny and J Balvin are the major artists leading this charge. 

Back in 2019, Fonsi spoke to Billboard about the impact “Despacito” had.

“When I look back, what really hits me is the fact that it opened a huge door for the non-Latin world to vibrate to Latin music,” he said. “It spearheaded a global Latin movement. I don’t mean to take credit and to say it was all me or the song; it was the sum of many songs and many artists. But this song definitely kicked the door open.”

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