Earlier this year, in January, Puerto Rican artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee dropped a reggaeton-tinged track titled “Despacito.” Sexy, smooth, dancey, the song debuted at number 2 on Billboard’s “Hot Latin Songs” chart and then quickly went on to top the charts of 27 countries. And now, according to Billboard, the remix of “Despacito”—which includes the original Spanish lyrics but with a new English intro by Justin Bieber—has reached the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100. That’s right: A song sung largely in Spanish is the number one song in the United States right now.
Billboard also reports that this is the first mostly Spanish-language Hot 100 No. 1 in more than 20 years. (The last time a mostly Spanish song was on top of the charts was 1996: Remember “Macarena”?)
“Despacito” roughly translates as “slowly/gently/softly,” in a deeply sexual context (lyrics here), and the breathy, drawn-out way Bieber voices the word has even the likes of Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Mirando shook:
Meanwhile, Italian millionaire playboy Gianluca Vacchi can teach you some sexy “Despacito” choreography, should you care to learn:
This isn’t the first time Canada’s own Justin Bieber has made a play for the Latin music market. In 2015, he released a “Latino remix” version of “Sorry” that included Colombian singer/songwriter J Balvin.
But while that was a Bieber song that got new life by throwing in a Spanish-language verse (plus the exclamiation “JB and JB!”), and “Despacito” marks a major moment in American music history, the first and ONLY all-Spanish track to hit No. 1 remains Los Lobos’ remake of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba.”
Still. Coming off a xenophobic, anti-immigrant election season in which “taco trucks on every corner” was a warning and a threat; in a time where our president wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico (although one already exists), it’s nice to feel some international, cross-cultural exchange in the air. Perhaps a change is coming… despacito.