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Luis Fonsi on his chart-topper ‘Despacito’: ‘Nobody really predicts a worldwide hit.’

Luis Fonsi's hit "Despacito" is the first Spanish language chart topper since "La Macarena."
Luis Fonsi's hit "Despacito" is the first Spanish language chart topper since "La Macarena."

Nothing says summer’s on the brink like a pool party.

Especially one at the fab Fontainebleau Miami Beach featuring top pop superstars such as Miley Cyrus, the Backstreet Boys, Fifth Harmony and Luis Fonsi having fun in the sun.

The iHeartSummer ’17 Weekend by AT&T hits town on Friday and Saturday, with Cyrus likely to belt out her megahits “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball,” Backstreet Boys crooning “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” and “I Want It That Way” and Fifth Harmony working “Boss” and “Worth It.”

Fonsi, meanwhile, has had his share of success – he won a Latin Grammy for Song of the Year in 2009 for “Aqui Estoy Yo,” and the year before, his “No Me Doy Por Vencido” was dubbed the Latin Pop Song of the Decade by Billboard.

But Fonsi, who has made Miami his home for the past two decades, comes in riding an unprecedented wave of glory following the Justin Bieber remix of his already big hit “Despacito,” also featuring Daddy Yankee. The sultry, infectious track has exploded globally, becoming the first mostly Spanish-language song to top Billboard’s Hot 100, where it has reigned for four weeks, since 1996 (Los Del Rio’s “Macarena”).

Fonsi talked to about the surprising success of “Despacito,” how Bieber got involved, and what he loves about Miami.

Q: How big a surprise was the success of “Despacito”?

A: It has been an amazing surprise. I always felt the song had a lot of magic behind it – you sort of get a feeling when you’re done writing a song or recording a first demo. You get a good hint of what could happen or where it could lead to. I always say nobody has a crystal ball, nobody knows – some songs are just born with just a guitar and a vocal, and this song I wrote with my guitar. And it already has that hook and that catchiness and that thing that just kind of sticks in your head and won’t leave. And it felt good the day I wrote it, and when we starting messing around in the studio with the arrangement and production, and it felt even better when we finalized the production and Daddy Yankee came in and added his magic to the song. But at no point in time did we see it sort of going this far. Nobody really predicts a worldwide hit.

Q: So how does it feel to have a worldwide No. 1 hit?

A: [Laughs] It feels great! I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years, so it feels great to kind of hit a new beginning, per se – I’m about to get on a plane for Italy, then to Germany, so I get to visit a lot of countries where my music has never been played. It consolidates a beautiful career in some countries where they know me, Spanish-speaking countries, but in European and Asian countries, it’s amazing. So I’m very excited for people to get to know my music, my future music, and the rest of the new album is sort of in this frequency as far as a little bit of the pop with dance songs and urban and Latin flavor.

Read More: Justin Bieber and Luis Fonsi are slaying the charts with ‘Despacito’

Q: How did Justin Bieber get involved with “Despacito”?

A: It was very interesting, because he came to us, he came to me. He kind of ran into the song while he was in South America touring – the song was already out four months before he even jumped on board, so it was a No. 1 hit everywhere in Latin America and becoming a hit in European countries.

Read More: Justin Bieber crushes it on Spanish remix of ‘Despacito’ — no seriously, he does

So he heard the song at a nightclub and just kind of felt how people started dancing and singing the song, and it just kind of clicked – I’m guessing because I really haven’t asked him. But he right away said, “I want to be a part of this.” So his management reached out to us to do the remix to this song. And we had an English lyric to the song prepared, just in case – it was in the future plans to do an English version. So of course we sent him the session right away, and he did his thing, and even sang the chorus in Spanish, which was a wonderful surprise. It was just exciting because he fell in love with the song and wanted to be a part of the party, I guess.

Luis Fonsi and Justin Bieber at the 2017 Billboard Awards.

Q: Well, he loves to party in Miami – any chance he shows up to sing with you?

A: [Laughs] I doubt it. I don’t see that happening, at least now. We’ve definitely talked about getting together eventually – I think it’s gonna happen, but it’s the downside of having a collaboration. Every artist has their own busy schedule.

Q: Maybe you guys could get together and perform on next year’s Grammy show – that’d be cool.

A: That would definitely be a special night.

Q: Are you excited about the iHeartSummer party?

A: Yeah, I’m very excited to perform here in Miami, my hometown, and it’s gonna be an exciting lineup. And iHeart has supported the song quite a bit and it’s always exciting to be able to perform it live.

Q: Are you familiar with the Fontainebleau?

A: Yeah, absolutely – I’m a local guy, and I go there quite a bit to have nice dinners and I’ve stayed there quite a bit.

Q: Do you prefer an event like this, with the pool and the fun and hot bodies, to a regular show?

A:  I don’t know that I prefer it, but it’s refreshing to be able to do my show – I’m only performing one song (“Despacito”) – in a more sort of informal, tropical way, which is something that I love, because I’m an informal, tropical guy. Every venue and every performance has its own different magic about it, but this setting fits well with the song, you know? It’s an uptempo kind of summer, fun, beach, let’s have a good time kind of song. It’s not like I’m gonna go up there and sing a few ballads around the pool.

Q: Tell us about your upcoming Love and Dance World Tour.

A: The tour is the full show, which is gonna cover a little bit of the new material, which I’ll be releasing later this year, but it’ll be mostly the hits, the songs that people have heard from the beginning of my career until now.

Q: What do you love about Miami?

A: Aw, man, I love Miami. I’m a proud Boricua, I’m a proud Puerto Rican – I love my island, but let me tell you, living here in Miami for the last 20 years has just been amazing. The beautiful weather – I’m a beach guy, I’m an ocean guy – and I have my family here, my brother, my sister, my parents. We all live here. My kids were born here. And it’s such a great mixture of cultures and flavors and colors. When you perform in different countries, you perform for that country. When you’re performing in Miami, you’re performing for the world. You see flags from everywhere, and you hear accents from everywhere, and that’s what makes Miami so rich. I love it here.


What: iHeartSummer ’17 Weekend by AT&T

When: Friday and Saturday (times TBA)

Where: Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

Info:;  two-night hotel packages start at $499.

Can’t make the show? Watch the TV special documenting the event at 8 p.m. June 23 and 24 on the AUDIENCE Network.

4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach