Billboard is celebrating the 2010s with essays on the 100 songs that we feel most define the decade that was -- the songs that both shaped and reflected the music and culture of the period -- with help telling their stories from some of the artists, behind-the-scenes collaborators and industry insiders involved.
By August 2017, Camila Cabello had released two solo singles since leaving Fifth Harmony in December 2016: A bouncy banger called “Crying in the Club” and an impassioned ballad titled “I Have Questions.” The former, her official debut single, barely cracked the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100; the latter never reached the chart. The arrival of “Havana,” a mid-tempo piano-driven track with Latin flair, on Aug. 3 marked a pivotal moment for Cabello in proving her potential as a solo star.
The flirty song was released in conjunction with a hip-hop inspired track titled “OMG,” partly because Cabello’s label, Epic/Syco, felt “Havana” was too slow to be a hit. But the song’s sultry rhythm was exactly what caught attention, particularly because it fused Latin with pop and urban at a time when all three were dominating. “Havana” arrived as Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” was in the middle of its 16-week No. 1 run on the Hot 100, the start of a Latin boom in top 40 that many had underestimated.