"Despacito" Is Now the Most-Streamed Song in the History of the World

Should We Really Be Surprised?

By Sam Eichner ·
Photo: Luis Fonsi/VEVO/YouTube
Despacito,” the Spanish-language reggaetón hit from Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee you can’t seem to get out of your head, no matter how hard you try, despite never knowing the words, is now the most-streamed song in the history of the world, with a staggering 4.6 billion plays between the original and the Bieber remix in just the six months since its release.

I think we can all agree this is a huge win for the Spanish language and a huge loss for humankind, given the unfair boost this is sure to give Justin Bieber’s already overinflated ego. I would implore those of you streaming the song to stream the original—which is better, anyway—and ignore the remix. As Beiber proved at 1 Oak, he hardly deserves credit for this track.

There are some Americans who might express surprise at this achievement. Surely, their thought process might go, America is the center of the universe, so it must be responsible for the most-streamed song. How, this American might ask, is DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One” less popular than “Despacito”?

The answer is quite simple: the Latin world has literally been playing “Despacito” on repeat for the last six months. This is not an exaggeration. I was there from December through May—in Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Argentina—and I can honestly say I’ve never in my life heard a song so consistently and ubiquitously overplayed. I listened to “Despacito” approximately five times a day—I never once put it on myself (that is a boldfaced lie, but you get my point). It was everywhere, worming into your subconscious, as much a soundtrack to these cities as the rush hour traffic.

I hesitate to suggest that music tastes are narrower in Latin America. I was, after all, just traveling through. Certainly rock music—punk, especially—is popular in Mexico and Argentina, perhaps even more so than it is in the states. But the young Colombians I hung out with, bless their preternatural dancing skills, almost exclusively seemed to listen to salsa and reggaetón. I can’t recall listening to more than three different songs in the two months I was there. The other two, in addition to “Despacito,” were Carlos Vives and Shakira’s “La Bicicleta” and Ricky Martin’s “Vente Pa’ Ca.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up making streaming history, either.
Sam Eichner

Sam Eichner likes literature, reality television and his twin cats equally. He has consistently been told he needs a shave since he started growing facial hair.

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