Hearing the first few seconds of Despacito, the harmony of a clean-cut voice and plucks of a guitar sends immediate adrenaline through our bodies. “Despacito”, the greatest summer hit of 2017 and the most watched video on Youtube. Scrolling down your Facebook feed or going to the beach in the US, we realize “Despacito” is everywhere.
How did a Mexican song become the most globally streamed in music history? Despacito holds a spark, something that ignites and catches upon the audience’s attention. Alex Reed, an associate professor of music theory, history, and composition at Ithaca College says, “Between the smoothness of its backing instrumentals, its mid-tempo groove, and its repetitive and very familiar chord progression, it’s as if they’ve removed anything that could distract us from the interaction of the voice, the melody, and the language.” This song is different in its nature, the rhythm and instrumentals, which the universal audience seemed to crave this summer.
Billions of people watching and enjoying Despacito, without understanding the meaning of the Mexican lyrics seems to bring unity to the racial disputes we see arising in society. Following the election of Donald Trump past November, Mexicans have been targets of discriminatory remarks and negative generalizations. Especially with President Trump’s constant threats to, “build a separating wall”, because “all Mexicans are drug dealers,” there has been a faltering relationship between citizens of Mexico and the United States. Recently, society has seen a rise of white supremacists, groups of people who claim the White race is superior to any other. The lives sacrificed at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville remain as a reminder that there are still people who violently push for superiority and inferiority between races. Through the many discriminatory political statements and constant media coverage upon these types of incidents , “Despacito” serves as a peaceful reminder that people can accept and appreciate different cultures.
– Michelle Shin (’21)
Featured Image: Creative Commons