Luis Fonsi reflects on his decade-defining hit 'Despacito,' announces new album for 2020
"People ask me all the time, 'When are you making the next 'Despacito?' I have to explain to them that I can't."
Luis Fonsi has been making music for more than 20 years, but it wasn’t until 2017 that a song would catapult him to superstardom — with a little help from Daddy Yankee and, later, Justin Bieber. On paper, the trio may have been a mismatch, but their work on “Despacito” would help usher in a new era for Latin music.
“It’s been almost three years now since ‘Despacito,’ and looking back, I feel very grateful,” Fonsi tells EW about the multi-platinum single, which racked up a decade-best 6.5 billion views on YouTube. “I’m so grateful that this little idea that started out with a fun hook on my guitar grew to be a song that so many people loved. The stars aligned for this to play out like it did. I really feel like God put his hand on this song from the beginning.”
After “Depacito” made its mark on the English-language market, it opened the doors for Latin and American artists to collaborate. Examples include J. Balvin’s remix of “Mi Gente” with Beyonce, and Bad Bunny’s hit “Mia” alongside Drake, where both featured artists sang at least partially in Spanish. Though these tracks stand alone, there have been many singers who have tried to replicate the lighting-in-a-bottle formula that worked for Fonsi — with varying degrees of success.
“Just like everything, when something works people try to repeat that recipe,” he explains. “People ask me all the time, ‘When are you making the next ‘Despacito?’ I have to explain to them that I can’t, and also, I don’t want to. I’ve already made it and that was historic and I know exactly how blessed I am for that. Now, I have to find whatever the next thing or the next song is…. I know that when people see a rapper and a melodic singer and an anglo superstar, they’re thinking, ‘Ok, let’s do that.’ We saw that a lot of people tried it and it didn’t seem natural.”
Fonsi — who was in Los Angeles last week to kick off promotions for the new season of La Voz, the Spanish-language version of NBC’s The Voice — notes that Latin music is more than just a trend in America, it’s here to stay. “It’s always been here,” he says, “we just were able to shine a little light on it to let people know that we are here. We have amazing artists, and it’s going to keep on happening. I feel we are in a really good place right now.”
With just about two weeks left in the year, Fonsi already has big plans for 2020. On his list are beating his fellow coaches Wisin, Carlos Vives, and Alejandra Guzman yet again on La Voz, as well as releasing the follow-up to his 2019 album Vida. “I’ll be dropping an album in 2020, although I don’t have a release date for it yet,” he says. “It’ll probably be after the summer. I have not stopped recording! I feel like I’m on fire. Just give me a guitar and a mic and I’m ready. Yesterday I had five hours off and I went to the studio with my guys and wrote a song from scratch. We produced it, recorded it, and mixed it, like in six hours. Making music is my vice, my beautiful vice. So fans can definitely expect some new music from me in 2020.”
Fonsi adds that he’s ready to kick the new decade off by owning his own accomplishments for as long as people let him. “If people remember me as the guy who did ‘Despacito,’ one of the songs that changed Latin music, that broke records, then I’m ok with that,” he says. “That song is my baby, the video is my baby. It was shot in the most beautiful place in the world, Puerto Rico, and I’m so proud of that. In the end, this isn’t about my video getting 6.5 billion views on YouTube. It’s more about 6.5 billion people know the place where I’m from, and how important that place is.”