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There’s No Escaping “Despacito”

The record-shattering original Luis Fonsi–and–Daddy Yankee single and the Justin Bieber–assisted remix have been streamed 4.6 billion times since January

“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.

(Screenshot via “Despacito” video)
(Screenshot via “Despacito” video)