The genre-bending, multi-cultural "Despacito" is the unequivocal Song of the Year. Featuring a remix with pop singer Justin Bieber, the reggaeton-pop smash (from Latin artist Luis Fonsi, along with Daddy Yankee) was recently certified eight-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), encompassing two-million-plus downloads and an abundance of streaming-equivalent units. It is a stunning commercial feat, and one the voters can't possibly ignore. The song's achievements run far and wide, from setting a new most-viewed YouTube record to becoming the first mostly-Spanish language song to hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 since 1996's "Macarena" (by Los Del Rio).
Then, it is not a surprise the sultry Bieber-assisted remix is up for Record of the Year at the 2018 Grammy Awards, set for Jan. 28 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The field is rounded out by Childish Gambino's “Redbone," Jay-Z's “The Story Of O.J.," Kendrick Lamar's “HUMBLE." and “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars. But none capture the 2017 urban-pop zeitgeist like "Despacito," blending Latin flavor, mariachi sway and hip-hop with bubbly pop soaking the walls. The varied musical style taps into the heart of music's power to connect people from all walks of life, which is certainly something we need more in the world right now.
Like many hit singles, "Despacito" came to Fonsi through unlikely means: a hazy dream. "I woke up one morning with 'Despacito na na na na na na Puerto Rico. I didn't know how I wanted to produce it, so it took a little bit to kind of get that perfect hybrid between pop and urban. Then, I called my buddy Daddy Yankee who was a big part of this record and he added his magic and it all came together," Fonsi said. When the song "finally," as he put it, climbed to the top spot on Billboard's Hot 100, usurping Bieber's previous hit single "I'm the One," the moment became "just a blessing." The nearly-four-minute jam would go on to command 16 weeks at the summit.
"It's been a huge surprise...I'm just so honored that the world has connected to the song, a Spanish song, to see all of these beautiful countries singing in Spanish," Fonsi admitted.
What would be surprising (and most egregious) is the voters' overlooking what is obviously the year's most deserving entry of the bunch.