American Radio And Latin Music Is More Than Just Despacito

American Radio And Latin Music Is More Than Just Despacito

But it's also a little bit about Despacito.

Despacito. There. The elephant has been ADDRESSED, and I am here to tell you that there is way more to the Latin Music Industry than just this song. Lucky for you, I will be talking about exactly that. However, that does not intend to detract from Despacito’s importance either.

Before Justin Bieber slid his way into the Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee tune, the song was already a global hit. It’s worth mentioning that the original video has reached over 3.7 billion views as of September 20th, and does not have the Canadian singer even make a cameo. Why? Because Bieber is not the reason this is a hit (he “allegedly” jumped on the track after hearing Despacito in a club during his Latin American tour). Although Bieber’s appearance solidified it as a juggernaut in American radio, we’ll talk more about this later, the world was already hip to this style of music many in America cannot name: reggaeton.

Now, I too was not aware of just how global Latin American music was until I began taking a Latin Music Industry course at USC, instructed by Loren Medina. This is the first course of its kind to be taught at not only USC, but any college campus in the U.S. (if you know of another, I’ll wait). So, don’t feel bad for not knowing of its relevance. However, take the time to get familiar with it now, because it’s coming either way, and it’s amazing. I am lucky to get an insider view on the industry but, ANYWAY, back to matters at hand.

Born out of Panama and Puerto Rico, with heavy Jamaican and hip-hop influence, reggaeton has been ruling the insurgence of Latin American music around the world. Many reggaeton artists like Maluma, J Balvin, and the Despacito boys (am I allowed to call them that?) have been capitalizing on this, racking up hundreds of millions, if not billions, of views. BUT, you might be mulling over a question in your head similar to “Okay cool, issa global hit...but what does that mean for American Airwaves?”

I’m so glad you asked. Before Despacito, no primarily Spanish-speaking song had claimed the number one spot on the Billboard 100 since “La Macarena” in 1996. That’s about 21 years later. Or two decades. Two separate milleniums. Whatever you want to define it as, it is baffling. Latinos are the largest ethnic minority in America making up 17 percent of the population, and it’s high time that music starts reflecting that. The silver lining however, is that Despacito may have come at just the right time because of two genres BOOMING in the States: EDM and Mumble Rap.

We all know EDM and its power to make people dance and roll (on the ground..yea..on the ground), and mumble rap’s ability to do relatively the same thing, the additional factor being indecipherable lyricism (y’all do y’all though). BUT, do we know how it is subconsciously altering our perception of reality?

Look at how the producers of these genres, Skrillex, Metro Boomin, etc, even producers who are more-so “talent-wranglers”, have sky-rocketed to fame and success. It is because of the tracks they create. So, how do they get you, and myself, to ATTEMPT to scream the lyrics and shake our bums to it even though we legitimately might not know what it is they’re saying? Did someone say “Work”?* It’s not because we are drones or robotic, it is because we are becoming desensitized to the importance of lyrics (kind of sad for songwriting, but that’s another issue). For it to be a commercial pop hit it just needs to be catchy, and have a danceable track. This sounds as if it comes with a negative connotation, but I mean it in the most positive way.

Because we are getting away from lyrics, we are also moving away from language BARRIERS, which are ultimately what is keeping Spanish-speaking hits, like Despacito, out of the top of the charts in America without remixes. Despacito more than likely would have performed well on the charts, it was approaching the top 40 before Bieber hopped on, but it would never have had the reign at number one it did without the help of an English-speaker(ing) collab. This is evident with previous Spanish-speaking U.S. number ones like La Bamba and La Macarena also..all remixes.

If American music continues down this road, then it is conceivable to imagine a Billboard number one single being completely in Spanish, no remix, hopefully within the next couple years. However, we will probably see a lot more songs follow the path of Despacito before that happens.

So, if I leave you with anything, I want to say that this is something you want to be a part of. Latin music is great music, and it’s so fun to explore sounds and artists that you might never get to know if it weren’t for the help and accessibility of streaming, the internet, and all that millennial gizmo junk. Happy hearing. And if you speak spanish, happy listening.

*"Work" is a WORK of art that people don’t understand the lyricism of because it is partially in Jamaican patois.

Cover Image Credit: Google/Billboard

Popular Right Now

'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Is NOT About Date Rape, It's A Fight Against Social Norms Of The 1940s

The popular Christmas song shouldn't be considered inappropriate.


The classic Christmas song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" has recently come under attack. There has been controversy over the song being deemed as inappropriate since it has been suggested that it promotes date rape. Others believe that the song is another common example of our culture's promotion of rape. You may be wondering, where did they get that idea from?

The controversy has led to one radio station, WDOK, taking the song off the air and banning it from their station. Some people believe that this song goes against the #MeToo movement since it promotes rape. However, people are not considering the fact that this traditional Christmas song was made in the 1940s.

People are viewing the song from a modern-day cultural perspective rather than from the perspective of the 1940s. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was written in 1944. Many people have viewed the song from the perspective of our cultural and social norms. People believe that the song promotes date rape because of lyrics that suggest that the male singing is trying to stop the female singer from leaving, and the female singer is constantly singing about trying to escape with verses like "I really can't stay" or "I've got to go home."

When you first view the song from the perspective of today's culture, you may jump to the conclusion that the song is part of the date rape culture. And it's very easy to jump to this conclusion, especially when you are viewing only one line from the song. We're used to women being given more freedom. In our society, women can have jobs, marry and be independent. However, what everyone seems to forget is that women did not always have this freedom.

In 1944, one of the social norms was that women had curfews and were not allowed to be in the same house as a man at a later time. It was considered a scandal if a single woman so much as stayed at another man's house, let alone be in the same room together. It's mind-blowing, right? You can imagine that this song was probably considered very provocative for the time period.

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is not a song that encourages date rape, but is actually challenging the social norms of society during the time period. When you listen to the song, you notice that at one part of the song, the female states, "At least I can say that I tried," which suggests that she really doesn't want to leave. In fact, most of the song, she is going back and forth the whole time about leaving stating, "I ought to say no…well maybe just a half a drink more," and other phrases.

She doesn't want to leave but doesn't really have a choice due to fear of causing a scandal, which would have consequences with how others will treat her. It was not like today's society where nobody cares how late someone stays at another man's house. Nowadays, we could care less if we heard that our single neighbor stayed over a single man's house after 7. We especially don't try to look through our curtain to check on our neighbor. Well, maybe some of us do. But back then, people did care about where women were and what they were doing.

The female singer also says in the lyrics, "The neighbors might think," and, "There's bound to be talk tomorrow," meaning she's scared of how others might perceive her for staying with him. She even says, "My sister will be suspicious," and, "My brother will be there at the door," again stating that she's worried that her family will find out and she will face repercussions for her actions. Yes, she is a grown woman, but that doesn't mean that she won't be treated negatively by others for going against the social norms of the time period.

Then why did the male singer keep pressuring her in the song? This is again because the song is more about challenging the social norms of the time period. Both the female and male singers in the song are trying to find excuses to stay and not leave.

On top of that, when you watch the video of the scene in which the song was originally viewed, you notice that the genders suddenly switch for another two characters, and now it's a female singer singing the male singer's part and vice versa. You also notice that the whole time, both characters are attracted to one another and trying to find a way to stay over longer.

Yes, I know you're thinking it doesn't matter about the genders. But, the song is again consensual for both couples. The woman, in the beginning, wants to stay but knows what will await if she doesn't leave. The male singer meanwhile is trying to convince her to forget about the rules for the time period and break them.

In addition, the complaint regarding the lyric "What's in this drink?" is misguided. What a lot of people don't understand is that back in 1944, this was a common saying. If you look at the lyrics of the song, you notice that the woman who is singing is trying to blame the alcoholic drink for causing her to want to stay longer instead of leaving early. It has nothing to do with her supposed fear that he may have tried to give her too much to drink in order to date rape her. Rather, she is trying to find something to blame for her wanting to commit a scandal.

As you can see, when you view the song from the cultural perspective of the 1940s, you realize that the song could be said to fight against the social norms of that decade. It is a song that challenges the social constrictions against women during the time period. You could even say that it's an example of women's rights, if you wanted to really start an argument.

Yes, I will admit that there were movies and songs made back in the time period that were part of the culture of date rape. However, this song is not the case. It has a historical context that cannot be viewed from today's perspective.

The #MeToo movement is an important movement that has led to so many changes in our society today. However, this is not the right song to use as an example of the date rape culture.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Board Games Are More Important Than You Think They Are

They've become a defining part of my family.


Remember when you were a kid and you'd have a family game night? Or your friends would come over and you'd open the game cabinet and play at least three different games together?

Maybe it's just me, but those are some of my best memories from my childhood. My family loves games, board games, and electronic games.

Of course, as I got older, gaming consoles like PlayStation and Wii became more and more popular. That meant that the game cabinet was opened less and less, collecting dust.

Thankfully, I live in New Jersey near the shore and Hurricane Sandy left my family with no power for five days. Sure, it was scary not having power and walking around my neighborhood seeing fallen trees or roof shingles, but we were inland enough to not have had any flood water damage.

No power also meant no PlayStation or Wii games. The gaming cabinet was opened again, this time with vigor. Now, four years later, and I still think about sitting in the dark with a flashlight playing Scrabble with my family.

That was also the week I learned how to play Yahtzee and dominated my dad in every game. My sister constantly was looking for someone to play her to Battleship. We exhausted Rummikub.

The game was already a family favorite, and that's including extended family. Family barbeques had been ending with late night games of Rummikub for at least a year by the time Sandy hit.

We were ready to strategize and crunch numbers, but after day three, we never wanted to a number ever again.

This semester, there's been a surge of board game love again in my family. My sister bought Jenga, which we are currently trying to exhaust ourselves with. My favorite board game also had a comeback: Life.

I loved this game so much that I had the SpongeBob version as a kid. I would play it with my best friend, just the two of us, playing game after game of Bikini Bottom themed Life. Now, I have a car full of "kids" that I've started to make pets in my head. I can handle having five pretend dogs, but not five pretend kids.

I don't know what it is about board games, but my family has always had an affinity for them. We've gone through our cycles of playing video games and card games, but we always come back to the classics. Maybe it's more a defining part of my family than I originally thought.

Related Content

Facebook Comments