Luis Fonsi’s ‘Despacito’ has become the most-streamed song of all time, just six months after it was released in January 2017. The hit single has been played 4.6 billion times across all streaming services, overtaking Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’, which previously held the title.
“What’s happened with this song is just insane,” said Fonsi, who hails from Puerto Rico and sings in Spanish.
“I don’t want to use the word accident because I was trying to write a hit, but I didn’t plan for it to cross over. I just wanted to make people dance.”
The 39-year-old said the global success of his song – which has reached number one in 35 countries, including the UK – gave him hope in the uncertain modern day political climate.
“I come from Puerto Rico and I live in Miami. We’re living in an interesting time right now when people want to divide us”, he said. “They want to build walls. And for a song to bring people and cultures together, that’s what makes me proud.”
‘Despacito’ translates as “slowly” in English, referring to the speed of Fonsi’s seduction technique.
It hit number one around Latin America when it was released in January, but only caught fire in the English-speaking world after Justin Bieber heard the song in a nightclub and asked to add a verse.
Bieber’s version of the song – known as ‘Despacito (Remix)’ – has become a phenomenon on streaming services, most notably Spotify and Apple Music. It is already the fourth most-played video of all time on YouTube, where it is rapidly closing in on the top three, all of which are years old.
The head of Universal Music Group, Sir Lucian Grainge, said the success of ‘Despacito’ showed how streaming was democratising the music market.
“Streaming has allowed a song with a different beat, from a different culture, in a different language, to become this juggernaut of success and pleasure,” he told the BBC.
“The industry has predominantly been English-speaking artists for the last 50 years [but] streaming will continue to open up music from Latin American artists globally.”