“Despacito,” Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s sensual, intensely danceable single, has become not just a clear front-runner for the coveted Song of Summer title but also, historically, the most-streamed song … ever. The original track and the Justin Bieber–assisted remix have been streamed a combined 4.6 billion times since the original’s release in January. (That’s over 200 million more streams than Bieber’s own “Sorry,” the previous record-holder that “Despacito” has now displaced.)
It’s not wholly surprising that “Despacito” has been streamed so many times; right now, the song is no. 1 in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. And the track’s “crossover” appeal has certainly added to its global success — “Despacito” shattered records for Spanish-language songs even before it became King of the Streams. It’s the first Spanish song since “Macarena” to hold a no. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, and the music video racked up 5.4 million views in 24 hours, the most for any Spanish-language video ever — all well before Bieber got involved.
Of course, the 4.6 billion figure includes streams of the original Luis Fonsi–Daddy Yankee version and the Bieber remix, meaning the song did get a boost when the Bieber version came out in April. And who knows, maybe “I don’t know the words, so I say Dorito” really resonated with those for whom an ideal song includes both an irresistible beat and a bungled reference to their favorite dusty corn chip — or perhaps it just drove people to figure out what Bieber was supposed to be saying.
But Bieber’s questionable “Spanish” aside, “Despacito” is so omnipresent, so overwhelmingly popular, that its record-breaking feels more or less inevitable. Can you remember the last time you were in a place — the mall, an Uber, a bar, really any location — and didn’t hear it playing? Neither can I.
Breaking this newest streaming record is just concrete proof of something we already knew: “Despacito” is catchy as hell. But more importantly, Bieber’s role in the song’s popularity — even after his subsequent gaffe — proves the Canadian star is such an undeniable crowd-pleaser that he can phone in a feature, go so far as to forget the words he once recorded, and still help make a hit soar. Or, then again, maybe “Despacito” was just so good that even someone as fumbling as Bieber couldn’t screw it up.