Despacito is the newest buzz word in town for any dance party. The global phenomenon of this titanic hit has led to the mainstream resurgence of a genre that has been dormant for sometime. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee never expected their music video to go viral, neither did they expect the Justin Bieber remix of the song to become one of the best-selling singles of all time.
Latin music has been a genre since the 1940s but it was only in the 1980s that it became quite popular with hits from Julio Iglesias, Juan Gabriel, Roberto Carlos and Celia Cruz. The early 90s saw the gradual rise and decline of Eurodance wherein certain hits were infused with Latin music. Selena's contribution to Latin music via her push for Tejano was short lived following her tragic death in 1995.
By the mid 90s it was clear that Latin music was here to stay with the mega hit Los Del Rio's Macarena taking the world by storm with its Bayside Boys Mix. The hit which was accompanied by a step dance and a memorable music video was the biggest hit of the 90s. Post Macarena era witnessed Latin Pop becoming the ambassador for Latin music in the mainstream. Young artists such as Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Marc Anthony and Shakira entered the mainstream with monumental force in the late 90s and ruled the charts in the early 2000s. Particularly songs such as Martin's Livin' La Vida Loca, Iglesias' Bailamos and Shakira's Hips Don't Lie made a massive impact on the charts.
After Latin Pop's gradual decline, Reggaeton took over in the mid 2000s with artists such as Daddy Yankee, Wisin & Yandel and Nina Sky. However, while their songs were a staple on the dance floor at the time, they did not make much of an impact on the charts. The last of the sub-genres of Latin music to crossover to the mainstream was Bachata where Prince Royce and Romeo Santos are making a recognizable impact. After 2010, Latin music was all but in the past, with no real presence in the charts except for the one off hit by either Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez or Shakira.
In 2014, Iglesias made a huge comeback with Bailando which soared to the top in many charts and was a global floorfiller at parties. However, it never managed to score success in the charts that mattered - US, UK and Australia. While proving to be definitely one of the best Latin songs of all time, it was evident that the mainstream was not ready to embrace Latin music as a whole.
All of this changed with Despacito. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's original Spanish version did not fare all that well in the English speaking countries. However, the Bieber remix proved to be more successful than the collaborators ever imagined. Justin Bieber not only contributed his vocals to the remix perfecting the Spanish lines, his association with the single alongside the fact that he is the most influential and successful artist of yesteryear not to forget the fact that he is also the most sought after artist to be featured at present made this song the Song of the Summer of 2017 and also equaled a record which was set in 1995.
With Despacito it is clear that Latin music is enjoying more popularity than before. The first song to experience this is J Balvin and Willy William's Mi Gente. Next up we have Iglesias re-releasing his Súbeme la Radio as a Spanglish version with X Factor winner Matt Terry and Sean Paul. This was followed by Jennifer Lopez's newest single Ni Tú Ni Yo. The last to enter this party was Little Mix where they collaborated with the new Latin boy band sensation CNCO and re-released a Spanglish version of the latter's hit Reggaetón Lento.
Others that could possibly join this fold include Pitbull, Shakira, Sean Paul, Maluma, Nicky Jam, Don Omar, Wisin, Camila Cabello, Kat DeLuna and even Ricky Martin who might use this opportunity to make his long awaited comeback. All in all this resurgence could very well be a result of the mainstream swaying gradually towards a more tropical taste given the rise of Reggae Fusion as well as tropical beats entering Pop, Hip-Hop, R&B and Rap. It could also be just a fluke with the recent resurgence attributable to the Bieber Remix of Despacito. At the end of the day we will have to wait and see, whether Latin music is here to stay in the mainstream or will disappear as soon as whence it came.
Till the next rhythm...