After the release of “Despacito” last year, Puerto Rican singer and international superstar Luis Fonsi led another overwhelmingly strong Latin music tide globally, hitting every continent, even all the way over the Pacific Ocean to Asia.
As Justin Bieber gave the song a new life with his remix, Singaporean pop singer JJ Lin also reintroduced the song to the Mandarin world earlier this year. With a long-awaited debut performance in China, Fonsi ended his Love + Dance World Tour in Shanghai last month.
Sitting with Billboard Radio China in Shanghai a few hours before the show, Fonsi shared, “It’s exciting to be here to sign the year off and to celebrate in the other side of the world. It’s such a beautiful country.
“I’m happy to be part of the Latin movement. I’m honored that I get to travel the world singing in my native language. I’m blessed that countries like China have opened the door for me and my team.”
Like it did everywhere else, “Despacito” was a phenomenon that took over the charts, radio and streaming platforms and got everyone singing and dancing whether or not they can speak Spanish. Fonsi believes that his success in Asia is credited to Latin dance music being a universal language.
“I’m so happily surprised that Latin music has reached so far, and it has been growing so fast in Asia in general, because, of course, there is always that language barrier,” he said. “But there is one thing that Latin music does: It just makes you move, and it makes you want to dance, and it makes you want to have a good time.”
Recently, he pushed the presence of Latin pop further by crossing genres internationally, featuring on English EDM band Clean Bandit‘s “Baby” with Welsh singer Marina. They joined on an uptempo song that disguises a story about heartbreak with a reggaeton beat and Spanish-style guitar.
“They asked me to be a part of it … which is really cool. I’ve been a big fan of Clean Bandit,” Fonsi shared. “I think it’s so important for me to just branch off and work with different kind of artists.”
He has also collaborated on “Échame La Culpa” with multi-platinum singer Demi Lovato, “Calypso” with British rapper Stefflon Don, and “Impossible” with Latin trap singer Ozuna in the past year. Together with “Despacito,” these hit singles have already set the tone for his full album release at the beginning of 2019, making it one of the most anticipated records.
Latin music is entering a new generation, rising in the international mainstream, and Puerto Rico is on the map with artists like Luis Fonsi in Latin pop and Bad Bunny in Latin trap.
After 20 years of navigating the Latin music scene and releasing eight albums, Fonsi looks back on his journey: “I started very very young … but it feels like it’s been like a year; it feels like I just started yesterday. It’s just like growing up, just liking being a 20 year old, you go through all these things, and all you can do is just learn and try to always give your best.”
In 2019, besides the release of his full album, Fonsi will continue taking a seat on The Voice in both the U.S. and Spain until April, followed by a tour starting in May. For more, listen to the full interview on Billboard Radio China.