“Despacito” recently became the most-streamed song of all times- just a few months after being released! I guess you can’t expect for such a smashing hit not to attract some haters, or for people not to write the most asinine pieces just to catch some of Despacito’s glitter. (Ha! Maybe that is what I’m doing here!)
“Vulgar,” “cliched,” “cheap” are but a few of the cheap shots people feel entitled to take at “Despacito”.
Even Cuban composer Pablo Milanes joined the anti-Despacito chorus arguing that with so many good composers (cough cough) and genres in the Latin music world it had to be something as superficial, retrograde, easy and vulgar as Despacito and reggaetón that conquered the U.S. markets.
Milanes even takes a shot at Luis Fonsi as a sold out who used to cover Milanes’ songs (Good Fonsi!) and now, for gods’ sakes, now he collaborates with reaggetoneros (Bad Fonsi!). I guess that seeing how Despacito captured the world’s attention reminds Pablo when he played before captive (literally) audiences.
The British tabloid “The Express” has rang the alarm: “You won’t BELIEVE how sexual the Despacito lyrics are in English.” Talking about Columbus discovering America! Let’s supposed for a moment that you don’t get a single word in Despacito, because, after all, most of it is sang in such, such an obscure language. But come on, watch the video- yes, yes, it is about sex and being sensual and sexy. This is obvious even when you watch the video in mute (which you shouldn’t).
For Shaun Kitchener, the author of this absurd piece, Daddy Yankee’s most poetic line ever (“I want to see how much love fits in you”) totally crosses the line. Kitchener warns his readers (roughly a dozen people) of the theme’s sexual tone and sides with the Malaysian government, which according to him already banned the song and “when the Spanish lyrics are translated, it’s not hard to see why.” Oh boy.
Dear Shaun, Spanish is not a mysterious, arcane or exotic language. With roughly half a billion speakers, Spanish is the world’s second most spoken language after Mandarin. It is spoken as both a first or a second language in every continent. So, I’m pretty sure that the poor translation your tabloid published was completely unnecessary. You see, Spanish is not a “secret” language nor the song is coded so people don’t know about its sexual tone.
Kitchener makes it sound like the song has secret dark sexual meanings of which you are unaware because you don’t know Spanish- which must be the language of sexual depravity and perversion. This is somewhat ironic- and I offer this with no judgement- English is the international language of the Kink world (look it up- I did).
Let’s pretend for a moment that Kitchener was trying to write something serious and not looking to gain some followers with that dumb piece. Here are some of the offending lyrics (as translated by Mr. K).
Want you to show my mouth
Your favorite places (Favorite, favorite baby)
Let me trespass your danger zones
Until I make you scream
And you forget your last name
I guess Kitchener’s problem with the song is that there is a man who loses his s^%! whenever he sees this woman. The song is all about how is he going to approach her, which will have to be slowly because her mere presence or the thought of her just unsettles him. Pure attraction. He even asks her to show him the way, which can be taken as asking for consent and even guidance. He wants (more like he needs) to please her in unimaginable ways to make her his, and to leave a mark.
Though some may think that the song is machista (a generic insult for basically every Latin cultural production) the lyrics actually show the opposite. Take the verse about oral sex. He can’t wait to perform on her, and under her direction! How many dudes you know that would consent to that? The cherry on top is that he won’t stop until she is really pleased to the point of screaming and forgetting her last name (meaning who she is). I guess that this is not the kind of male-pleasing sex that Kitchener and too many males are used to. Some may even find it debasing. Hey, we live in the Trump era in which males don’t please women, they just grab them by the pussy!
Or maybe, just maybe, Despacito raised the bar too high for mediocre lovers.
The sex tone in Despacito is raw, dirty, and egalitarian as inhibited sex should be. But what is extraordinary about this song and others such as Maluma’s “Felices los 4” is how they depart from reggaetón’s original themes in which most of the songs were about males dominating easy women. Hey, “bien duro” was reggaetón’s battle cry for a long time. That is certainly not the tone in “Despacito”. “Felices los 4” goes even further with Maluma telling his lover that if she “wants to have a good time with another that is ok, I will take the deal, we make the bedroom bigger, and the four of us can be happy.” Polyamorous anyone?
And who would’ve thought it? It is the Latin music world, and of all genres, reggaetón, which finally break the internet with a song with a despacito sex positive message.