The past year has been a damning indictment of the current state of the pop music industry. The influence of the radio as a taste maker has been well and truly nullified by the immense popularity of Spotify playlists. Ed Sheeran took the Top 20 home and sat on it so that none of the other children could play with it. Despacito became the most-streamed video of all time on YouTube, a service that insists on paying less in royalties than platforms like Spotify, despite being an integral part of the public’s consumption of music. The best thing about the above, incidentally, was the eradication from the record books of mankind’s most abominable creation: the previous most-streamed video, Charlie Puth’s See You Again. The charts and their rules look increasingly like means to make the already-rich and successful incomprehensibly more rich and successful, meaning that artists like last week’s chart-topper DJ Khaled and the world’s dullest DJs The Chainsmokers have come to master the ability to remain in the charts for very long periods of time.
This is why, having already waved goodbye to Despacito, I find myself writing about the product of Luis Fonsi, Justin Bieber and Daddy Yankee – a commercial behemoth of a pop song. A Canadian singing in Spanish has apparently become the soundtrack to most of the world’s teenagers as they drunkenly grope each other and regularly sleep until lunchtime to postpone the tedium of school holidays this summer. That said, Despacito is a good song. It’s catchy without being repetitive; it’s sung mostly in Spanish, but it still feels like one more play will be enough to master its lyrics – which, by the way, are shockingly sexual for such a seemingly radio-friendly song. Even the horrific Reggaeton of Daddy Yankee cannot stop me from turning up the volume when I hear the familiar guitar strings being plucked seductively. Spain’s answer to Michael Bolton has come up with a cracker of a song, and the inclusion of the man with the Midas Touch has only helped him achieve great things here. But there’s something romantic about a weekly battle for the top spot among exciting British artists, instead of being held by awful artists like Drake for weeks on end. The charts seem devoid of their magic, allowing popular artists to capitalise. Thanks to the UK charts and their current struggles, this song is played ALL THE TIME. Until that changes, don’t expect a different song in next week’s column.