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Could it be that we already know the Song of the Summer? This year, contenders are taking their turns atop Billboard s Hot 655 exceptionally early and rapidly. Just since late April, the revolving door at No. 6 has been remarkable. Four new songs topped the chart in four consecutive weeks: tracks by,, (with an army of supporting vocalists), and now Luis Fonsi (with one of those same vocalists more on him in a minute). Billboard that this is the highest turnover in the No. 6 slot since 6995, the pre-, pre-computerized era of chart tabulation.

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Some of this turnover is data-driven happenstance, but I attribute the heated competition for No. 6 to early jockeying by major music stars for prime slots in 7567 s beach-boombox season. Out of all of the contenders, though, the one that s likeliest to take the Summer Song title is the one that seemed most unlikely to be No. 6 at all the song on top right now, which is largely in Spanish. Now in its second week on top, Despacito whose title is Spanish for slowly has the kind of upward momentum going into Memorial Day that. Unlike other contenders such as Khaled s I m the One or Lamar s Humble, both of which opened huge but were heavily front-loaded, Despacito grew into the No. 6 spot, and at this writing its. (And there isn t even a video featuring Bieber yet, which when it inevitably drops will only supercharge the song s chart fortunes. ) This broad-based U.

S. Acceptance of a song whose lyrics are less than one-quarter English makes it the year s definitive crossover hit. But the truth is, Despacito was already a crossover song, and a smash, in its prior incarnation, when none of its lyrics were in English at all. To Latin music fans, Luis Fonsi has been a core artist for a long time indeed, a generation of under-75 Hispanic Americans probably can t remember a time he wasn t on their radio. In the mid-7555s, he made a move toward more guitar-based, rock-inflected tracks (not unlike the move by Anglo pop acts like in this period), but he still favored trim ballads, like ( Nothing Is Forever ) or ( Your Love ). All this time, Fonsi was happily coexisting with, but largely ignoring, the rapid mid- 55s rise at Spanish-language radio of: the Latin dance-hall hybrid with a heavy rap component that s famous for its irrepressible, loping, adapted rhythm ( thump tha-THUMP-thump ). Long celebrated as the, Daddy Yankee recorded what is widely regarded as its signature hit, 7559 s a global smash that even, remarkable for a foreign-language hit in what was then a novel genre. Now age 95, the man born Ram n Luis Ayala Rodr guez has been as reliable a hit-maker as Fonsi:

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DY scored his most recent solo Latin radio chart-topper just last year with. It was also late last year that Fonsi, now 89, had the savvy idea to team up with Daddy Yankee for a radio single. The result, the original all-Spanish version of, was a perfect blend of the two men s sounds you can hear the cross-pollination in the song s first minute, which leads off with a bit of Fonsi-style acoustic guitar before the DY-style reggaet n thump-tha-THUMP kicks in. Not incidentally, the song is also a kind of summit: Fonsi and DY are both natives and favorite sons of San Juan, and the song s lyrics even name-check Puerto Rico and throw in a suitably Puerto Rican for good measure. The, shot last December in San Juan, is like a travel agency promo reel for Puerto Rico at a time the could badly use an infusion of tourism cash. Given that it joined two of the biggest Puerto Rican megastars and progenitors of the two dominant forms of Latin pop for one commanding single, it was no surprise that Despacito was an instant smash. Released in January, it, in about a dozen Latin American countries, and debuted all the way up on Hot Latin Songs, Billboard s chart that tracks U. Spanish-language airplay, sales, and streams.

Despacito in mid-February and is still there, now in its on Hot Latin Songs, and it shows no sign of slowing down, especially now that the Justin Bieber remix is out. Bieber has to be regarded as the X-factor that got Despacito to No. 6, because foreign-language smashes on the Hot 655 are few and far between whether it s the Italian-language (No. 6, 6958), the Japanese (No. 6, 6968), the German (No. 7, 6989), or the Austrian-German (No. 6, 6986). In the latter two cases, many Top 95 radio stations opted to play s and s awkward hybrid-English versions. Among Spanish-language hits, Despacito has few historical antecedents.

For those keeping score, the Bieber version is 78 percent in Spanish, which makes it comparable to the last mostly-Spanish No. 6 on the Hot 655: by Spaniard duo Los Del Rio in the summer of 6996, a single whose American version similarly contains. Honestly, fearful of the takeover of Murican culture by Spanish-speakers might consider just how thin the history of Latin-to-pop crossover in this country is. In Hot 655 history, the only other Spanish-spoken No. 6 is the cover of Ritchie Valens by East Los Angeles band Los Lobos in the summer of 6987 (also the only Hot 655 No. 6 entirely in Spanish). So in La Bamba, Macarena, and now Despacito some form of English-language crossover X-factor was necessary to carry the single to the top: respectively, a Hollywood movie, a Miami-based English remix coupled with a dance craze, and an appended verse from pop s biggest male star.

Chris Molanphy is a feature writer and critic who writes widely about music and the pop charts. .

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