“It sounds a little cliche and a little cheesy, but it’s the truth.”
Get out your notepads and thinking caps, because Luis Fonsi is here to take you to school. He was recently on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” to perform, but also took the time to give away his biggest secrets to writing a hit song. It just so happens there was a secret formula to creating “Despacito,” a song that has dominated the airwaves, staying at number one all over the world and in the U.S. for 16 weeks (tying the all time record), and garnered over 3 billion views on YouTube. So here’s what you’ll need:
Be a talented musician and singer with decades of hard work and several albums under your belt.
Be from Puerto Rico, so you can write authentically from your Puerto Rican experience.
Have a dream where a perfect melody and lyrics just appear to you.
After you get that all out of the oven, and it’s hot, fresh and ready to go, throw in a sexy music video with a former Puerto Rican Miss Universe winner, catchy dance moves, and the smiles of Puerto Rican locals from the colorful “La Perla” neighborhood.
Release it all into the world, and once it starts blowing up, have Justin Bieber, one of the biggest names in pop music, garnish it with a verse in Spanish and share it with all of his fans, too.
Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.
Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.
“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”
The world got to know Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.
There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”
Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.
“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.
He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.
Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.
What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?
Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.
Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?
How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.
What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?
“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.
I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.
Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.
What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?
It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.
What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?
She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.
You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?
She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.
What can we expect from you in 2021?
A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.
Everyone could not stop talking about Joe Biden playing “Despacito” at a recent event. Even Fox News, of course, couldn’t stop talking about it but Sean Hannity made the news on social media. It isn’t because of how he talked about the story. Instead, it was about how he pronounced the song.
Sean Hannity had a real problem with Joe Biden playing “Despacito” at a recent campaign event.
Vice President Biden was in Kissimmee, Florida at a campaign event at the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month when he played “Despacito” in the microphone from his phone. Biden was panned across social media with claims that he was pandering to the Latino community by playing the song. However, it is important to note that Luis Fonsi, the singer of the song, had just introduced him so it seems like a playful moment.
First, some people are really impressed that these are scandals right now for Biden.
President Donald Trump responded to the moment by tweeting a doctored film. The president found the time to find a video where “Despacito” is replaced by N.W.A.’s “F— Tha Police.” The video feeds into President Trump’s campaign against Biden claiming that the former vice president supports defunding the police. Biden has spoken on the issue and is not in favor of defunding police wanting to add to the law enforcement budget.
Some people are curious about how Hannity made it so long without ever hearing the song.
We all remember the times of “Despacito.” The song was on the radio waves on every channel for months. There was no escaping the song because it was everywhere. Somehow, Hannity managed to live during this time and managed to not hear the song as much as the average American.
American truly wants to know how he managed to mispronounce one of the biggest songs in the world.
Like, even Justin Bieber learned how to pronounce the song. It is probably one of the most known Spanish words thanks to Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee making it the song of the summer when it was released. The singers even say is slowly and break it down to the syllables.
Of course, this led people to assume how he pronounces other Spanish words that most people know.
We all know people who can’t properly pronounce some Spanish words. Now, there is nothing wrong with mispronouncing a Spanish word. People who really try are often left working on their pronunciation. However, people are surprised that someone could mispronounce such a widely known word.
The moment has reminded some of another famous mispronunciation on Fox News.
In October of 2018, Lou Dobbs was talking to his viewers about the migrant caravan making their way through Mexico heading to the U.S. While reporting on the caravan, Dobbs tried his best to pronounce Huixtla and what came out was definitely not that.