It’s Already Been 5 Years Since ‘Despacito’ — & It’s Impact Is Still Felt

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
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The “Despacito” phenomenon is unparalleled. It took the music industry by surprise – who would’ve thought a Luis Fonsi song would become such a mainstream, crossover, global hit? The song was released on January 12, 2017, and the Latine music industry has never been the same since.

If you Google search Luis Fonsi, one of the first results has to do with the iconic song, although the singer has been on the radar since the late 1990s. The song was so influential that you can find multiple feature pieces from respected media outlets investigating exactly how the song became so popular. Even Billboard’s VP of Latine Music, Leila Cobo, titled her history book of Latine Music: Decoding “Despacito,” recording the song’s legacy on print.

“I think ‘Despacito’ played a crucial role in Latin music’s worldwide explosion. There’s a before and after especially in the way the world looks at Latin music and culture,” Fonsi said through a statement. “The song was released at a time that people needed that perfect mix of pop and reggaeton, melody, and Latin rhythms. Having Daddy Yankee and later Justin Bieber on the remix version didn’t hurt either!”

The remix became such a hit that it reigned No.1 on Billboard charts for 16 weeks, making history at the time by tying the all-time record with Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s song “One Sweet Day.” Additionally, in 2020, the remix video surpassed Youtube records at the time with more than 7 billion views.

Plus, when the “Despacito” remix with Justin Bieber was released three months later, the conversation grew on Twitter by about 61% compared to the original version. Fonsi, an avid Twitter user, said he likes interacting with fans and getting feedback on his projects on the social media platform. “Having that immediate reaction or response has been a great tool.”

During the last five years, the top countries besides the U.S. that tweeted about “Despacito” include Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, but also transcended to Spain, Indonesia, the U.K., and India. The global impact doesn’t stop there though, to put the universal hit in perspective, there’s still international covers being released — as recently as last month by South Korean boy band JUST B.

“Besides the records that were broken, the awards that were given, what I’m most proud of is that the entire world sang in Spanish. That one of the most viewed videos in the history of music was filmed a few miles from where I grew up. And that now, it’s completely normal to see Latin artists collaborate with mainstream artists without having to do it in English,” Fonsi said.

So whether you love it or hate it, we’re still witnessing the impact of “Despacito.” Even five years later, fans are still tweeting about the song, five years later.

“Despacito by Luis Fonsi was a cultural reset in Latin America,” one Twitter user recently commented. And while the phrase is liberally overused, they kind of snapped with that one. 

Another fan commented, “Despacito is the best pop song of all times and I like the Justin Bieber version fight me I don’t care.”

The tweets are endless when it comes to remembering how impacting the song was and still is. 

“I remember when the remix of Despacito with Justin Bieber came out, it was so good.” Another Twitter user commented.

Long live “Despacito.”