“Despacito,” the inescapable song of the summer, dominated the charts and infected our brains with its undeniably catchy melody.
It reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 100 and stayed there for 16 weeks, becoming the first mostly Spanish language song to reach the top spot in over 20 years since “The Macarena,” and yet, outside the Latin music world, most people had never heard of “Despacito”’s singer-songwriter Luis Fonsi.
“It feels like this is my first album, like I’m new to the game,” Fonsi told “Nightline.”
Fonsi is no stranger to seductive, chart-topping hits. A Latin Grammy Award-winning performer, he is known for ballads, such as “No Me Doy Por Vencido.”
But it was “Despacito” that helped him reach an international audience, including none other than Justin Bieber, who says that after dancing to the song in a Columbian nightclub, he wanted in.
“We had a full on English translation and vocals recorded in English,” Fonsi said. “We thought he was just going to do an English version. … But no. He took the time to learn it in Spanish…. I was impressed.”
Fonsi said the song’s massive success is a dream come true and it all started with a rhyme.
“I wake up one morning, and I just have this melody and this word in my head, ‘Despacito,’ ‘Despacito.’” Fonsi said. “I had the rhyme Puerto Rico, which is where I’m from, and ‘Ay Bendito.’”
That same afternoon, Fonsi said he had a writing session with his friend, Erika Ender, who is also a Latin Grammy Award winner and the youngest artist to ever be inducted into the Latin songwriter’s hall of fame.
“I grab my guitar,’” Fonsi said. “And, I start playing it for her…. Four hours later, we had ‘Despacito.’”
“We knew that it had to be urban fusion in a certain way because that’s what’s going on right now,” Ender added.
And that’s where rap artist Daddy Yankee came in.
“I tell him, ‘Why don’t we talk about a man that is trying to get to a woman in a very nice way,’” Ender said. “Because this genre is normally very aggressive with women … and I think this song it’s very respectful.”
The “Despacito” music video’s director Carlos Perez said Fonsi had a simple, yet poignant, idea for the video.
“It’s almost like a day in a life inside the culture of Puerto Rico,” he said. “When we were talking about who the lead…