When Enrique Iglesias, 39, premiered “Bailando” during the Billboard Latin Music Awards in April, the consensus was immediate: The song was a hit. By midsummer, the irresistible mix of flamenco, pop and reggaeton was a phenomenon; by October, it was the longest-running No. 1 in the history of Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart, breaking Shakira‘s 25-week record. Aided by a bilingual version, “Bailando” (featuring Bueno and Gente de Zona) also topped Dance Club Songs, rose to No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a top 40 hit, no doubt aided by a sexy video that was streamed millions of times a week.
Enrique Iglesias: I always knew there was something magical about this song, but what I never imagined was the effect that it was going to have. It’s insane.
Charlie Walk, executive VP, Republic Records: In the spring, the Spanish version at Miami Latin stations over-indexed to the point where it was No. 1 on Shazam, on top of Anglo records. When we saw that, we knew it was a record that would transcend if Enrique could make a Spanglish version.
Victor Gonzalez, president, Universal Music Latin Entertainment: The bilingual version broke the record. It was a big key point to have it gaining rotations at the time when the Spanish version had been on the top of the chart for many weeks. The bilingual version achieved high rotations, which were sustained by, and, in some cases, even replaced the Spanish version.
Walk: The first markets were the ones where we had Latin play and we complemented them with the Spanglish mix. Then we layered it market by market until we proved our case: The song was a legitimate pop song. And from then on, it didn’t matter if the market had a Latin base or not.
Iglesias: I’m sure it became so popular for so long because it doesn’t sound premeditated. It’s the kind of song that makes you feel good and happy when you listen to it.
2014’s No. 1’s: J Balvin & Farruko | Idina Menzel & the ‘Frozen’ Soundtrack | Tove Lo, Kiesza, & Nick Jonas | Taylor Swift | Barbra Streisand | Weird Al Yankovic | Ed Sheeran & Charli XCX | Nicki Minaj | ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Soundtrack | Enrique Iglesias | Kacey Musgraves | Santana | Sam Smith | Iggy Azalea | Jason Derulo | Meghan Trainor, Nico & Vinz
This article first appeared in the Dec. 20 issue of Billboard.