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Nice and Easy Pivot: “Despacito” May Be Ushering in the Golden Age of Non-English Hits, says LyricFind’s lyric search data

The song “Despacito” by Puerto Rican pop artist Luis Fonsi featuring Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee has become a global sensation. The remix, which features Justin Bieber singing in English and Spanish, has dominated Billboard’s Top 100 list for the fifth week, hitting charts worldwide, and is shaping up to be the song of the summer. The chart topper is originally a non-English song, sung in Spanish.

Could this be the long awaited watershed moment for non-English hits? It just might be.

The majority of global hit songs are English-language songs. The last non-English hit was Gangnam Style by the South Korean musician Psy, powered by a viral video. It’s been a long time since everyone was singing “Macarena” by Los Del Rio, the last song primarily in Spanish to top the Billboard Hot 100 in 1996, which peaked with the Bayside Boys Remix. Hits in other languages seem to be the exception, not the rule.

Then why is everyone searching for the lyrics for “Despacito”? Data from LyricFind, the world’s leader in lyric licensing, indicates that the song has garnered over 20 million displays, surpassing all other songs of the summer, including DJ Khaled’s “I’m The One”, which also features Justin Bieber. US fans have made the most searches for the lyrics, followed by Mexico and Germany. When it comes to lyric searches for the remix featuring Justin Bieber, Mexico has made the most searches, followed by Argentina, then the US.

“We think this shows how non-English songs and their lyrics are becoming just as compelling for listeners as English-language songs,” says Robert Singerman, VP of International Publishing at LyricFind. “We’re entering an era where lyric language will become less of an issue.” Tracks will start to speak for themselves--and appear in translations.

The popularity of “Despacito” shows it’s time to think beyond the English language when it comes to hit songs. Thanks to LyricFind’s upcoming translation feature, the meaning of songs of all languages will soon be unlocked to audiences around the world. Integration of lyric translation in apps, platforms and streaming services is on its way, enabling music to literally be the global language it has been touted to be for centuries. Meanwhile, we asked LyricFind’s translation team to tell us what the lyrics to Despacito say. Here’s their translation and some insights they shared with us about how to interpret it:

Come on over in my direction
So thankful for that, it's such a blessin', yeah
Turn every situation into heaven, yeah
Oh, you are
My sunrise on the darkest day
Got me feelin' some kind of way

Make me wanna savor every moment slowly, slowly
You fit me, tailor-made love, how you put it on
Got the only key, know how to turn it on
The way you nibble on my ear, the only words I wanna hear
Baby, take it slow so we can last long

Oh, you, you are the magnet and I'm the metal
I keep getting closer and setting up the plan
Just thinking of it raises my heartbeat (oh yeah)
I, I'm already liking it more than usual
All my senses are asking for more
This needs to be taken with no hurry

Slowly
I want to smell your neck slowly
Let me whisper things in your ear
So that you'll remember if you're not with me
Slowly
I want to undress you with kisses slowly
Put my signature on the walls of your labyrinth
And make your whole body a manuscript
(Up, up, up, up, up)

I want to see your hair dance
I want to be your rhythm
And show my mouth
Your favorite places

(Favorite, favorite, baby)
Let me overstep your danger zones
Until I provoke your screams
And you forget your last name

If I ask you for a kiss, come, give it to me
I know you're thinking about it
I've been trying for a while
Baby, this is giving and giving it
You know that your heart with me makes you go boom boom
You know that that girl is looking for my boom boom
Come, taste from my mouth to see how it tastes
I want, I want, I want to see how much love you can take in
I’m in no hurry, I want to take the trip
Let's start slow, and then wild

Little step by little step, smooth and gentle
We keep getting closer, little by little
When you kiss me with such skill
I see that you're malice with delicateness
Step by step, smooth and gentle
We keep getting closer, little by little
It’s just that such beauty is a puzzle
But to solve it I have the piece here
Listen!

Slowly
I want to smell your neck slowly
Let me whisper things in your ear
So that you'll remember if you're not with me
Slowly
I want to undress you with kisses slowly
Put my signature on the walls of your labyrinth
And make your whole body a manuscript
(Up, up, up, up, up)

I want to see your hair dance
I want to be your rhythm
And show my mouth
Your favorite places
(Favorite, favorite, baby)
Let me overstep your danger zones
Until I provoke your screams
And you forget your last name

Slowly
This is how we do it down in Puerto Rico
I just wanna hear you screaming, “Oh my god!”
I can move forever when I am with you
Dance!

Little step by little step, smooth and gentle
We're sticking together, little by little
To show my mouth
Your favorite places
(Favorite, favorite, baby)
Little step by little step, smooth and gentle
We keep getting closer, little by little
Until I provoke screams (Fonsi)
And you forget your last name (D.Y.)
Slowly

LyricFind’s translator Raymond Robert has a few tips for interpreting the translation. First of all, “despacito” is a diminutive form of “despacio” meaning slow, which expresses a sense of endearment or intimacy. It could be roughly translated as “nice and slow” or “very slowly.” The song’s chorus may read as abrasive or awkward in English, but in Spanish it is innocent and sweet, and meant to be read figuratively, not literally. The translation of “Sube,” continues Robert, is “go up” or “goes up.” This word is common in pop songs to create a sense of growing energy or hype. And that’s definitely where the song has gone, up, up to the very top. Sube, sube.