Take a catchy Latin reggaeton-pop song full of finger-picked Spanish guitar and smoothly seductive voices, add a verse by Justin Bieber in a remixed version, and what do you get? The most streamed song in history.
“Despacito,” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, has (as of this writing) been streamed nearly 4.6 billion times. The remixed version featuring Bieber has been No. 1 in the United States for nearly three months. And the song has topped the charts in a whopping 45 countries around the world. If that weren’t enough, the main YouTube video (sans Bieber but full of a camera ogling a young woman wearing short-shorts and a halter top, as well as sensually gyrating couples) has surpassed 2.8 billion views, too.
Now, as a general rule, Plugged In doesn’t cover music in other languages. But as with most things, there are always exceptions to the rule. And after three months of utter, global dominance, we’ve decided to review this track, using Billboard magazine’s translation of the predominantly Spanish lyrics.
Justin Bieber kicks things off in the remixed version. And he turns on the sweet talk here like his life depends on it.
“Coming over in my direction,” he begins. “So thankful for that, it’s such a blessin’, yeah.” Another spiritual comparison soon follows: “Turn every situation into heaven, yeah.” Just in case that doesn’t get the job done, Bieber then switches things up with a more naturalistic approach to his hyperbolic praise for a woman: “Oh, you are my sunrise on the darkest day.”
From there, however, things take a decidedly more earthy, fleshly turn. “Make me wanna savor every moment slowly, slowly/You fit me tailor-made, love, how you put it on/Got the only key, know how to turn it on.” Bieber’s contribution ends with this plea: “Baby, take it slow so we can last long.”
Are these the raciest lyrics ever committed to a pop song? No. Do we know without a doubt exactly what Mr. Bieber is singing about here? Yes.
For Spanish speakers, however, the lyrics that follow get significantly more risqué, so much so that Billboard writer Allegra T. Hanlon warned those who don’t speak that language, “You should probably know that, although catchy, the words to the most-streamed song of all time aren’t that innocent.”
The Spanish word despacito means slowly in English. And the back-and-forth lines between fellow Puerto Rican singers Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee get more explicit as the song progresses. Graphic enough, in fact, that not all of them are printable here.
Luis Fonsi tells this woman, “I want to breathe in your neck slowly/ … I want to undress you in kisses slowly/ … I want to be your rhythm.” Then this: “Let me trespass your danger zones/Until I make you scream.”
Daddy Yankee raps, “Come try my mouth and see if you like its taste/ … I’m not in a rush, I want to experience this trip/Let’s start slowly, then savagely.” And there’s more like that, including lines that reference both the male and female anatomy in coyly naughty ways. Lines like those were enough for the Malaysian government to ban this song, which it’s labeled “obscene,” according to the New Yorker.
Now, “Despacito” obviously hasn’t been banned here: If you’ve listened to pop music on the radio at all this summer, you already know it’s been unavoidable. But as Allegra T. Hanlon noted above, if you find yourself unconsciously humming or singing it, it’s probably good to know that the biggest song of the summer thus far is also one of the sexiest come-ons floating on the airwaves … even if you don’t understand what it’s saying.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.