Look, it’s hard to find genuine joy in this world. For me and millions of others this year, “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee has been that joy. After its release, the sexy summer jam quickly became an incredible smash hit—“Despacito” is the most-streamed song of all time and the music video is YouTube’s most-watched video of all time. The song celebrates Reggaetón, a musical genre that originated in Puerto Rico, and the music video was filmed in San Juan, the hometown of Daddy Yankee and Fonsi. “Despacito” has already won four Latin Grammy awards, and this week it was nominated for three Grammys: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
“Despacito” will and should go home with all the Grammys, but when it does, someone undeserving with pale hands and an Anglo tongue is going to take home a Grammy, as well: Justin Bieber.
It’s common in Latin pop for a musician to release several versions of the same song, usually a remix with a rapper and another with some portion of the song sung in English for crossover appeal—there are actually eight versions of “Despacito,” including one completely in Portuguese. The Grammy-nominated version of “Despacito” is the English-language crossover version of the song, featuring Bieber.
Grammy nominations begin as songs submitted by musicians and record labels, but it’s the Recording Academy that screens those songs for “eligibility and category placement”—meaning that even if the original “Despacito” was submitted for consideration, the Academy could still choose to instead nominate the Bieber remix. Because of course, that’s the song Americans want to hear. Apparently his weak, shitty verses make him a Latin King.
— paletero papi (@pablocurates) June 14, 2017
Here is this already perfect, record-smashing track and four months after its release, in walks this clown Bieber, who had nothing to do with the song’s already huge success, and he just gets spliced in. His breathy, baby Spanish accent is atrocious, he doesn’t know the words, AND HE DOES NOT MAKE “DESPACITO” BETTER. All he does is put a “Now in English!” stamp on it because apparently Americans can’t listen to songs without English in them. I am offended on behalf of Fonsi and DY that it took the inclusion of a Canadian white boy practicing 9th-grade Spanish for the song to become marketable to a larger swath of (white) Americans, because need I remind you that Fonsi and Daddy Yankee are Americans and Biebs is not. Why reward the crossover when no crossover recognition is needed? Apparently because Americans need silly English lyrics and a recognizable white face before they can enjoy a song.
Don’t listen to it, but here it is.
Bieber’s parts are obviously recorded during a different time and place and maybe in another reality. Maybe in one take? It doesn’t even sound like he’s trying and doesn’t the beat get worse when his voice comes in? Nothing could better prove that he DGAF than the fact that Bieber recorded the song four days before it was released.
What’s worse and unforgivable is Bieber’s performance of the song at a nightclub in New York City in May in which he showed his entire ass by singing “BABABABABA” instead of the actual lyrics of the song.
Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Erika Ender deserve every accolade for writing the catchiest song of all time, and I can’t wait to watch them win big. But Bieber does not deserve a Grammy for the inclusion of the lyrics “Oh-oh, you are / My sunrise on the darkest day / Got me feelin’ some kind of way” and for putting his disdain for the song on display by babbling the words. It’s messed up that we won’t get one without the other.
“Despacito” is the song of the year, long may she live, and that’s entirely due to the creative genius of three people of color and the song’s Puerto Rican roots. So when Biebs gets his pasty fingers on that Grammy, know it’s a cheap win on the coattails of better artists who deserve to be celebrated without him and his pathetic excuse for Spanish.