If you can’t sing in my language without mocking it, then don’t
Starting today, I’m boycotting Justin Bieber’s remix of “Despacito”.
I listened to it for the first time last month, and I was ecstatic. I loved the beat, the lyrics, and I listened in disbelief as Justin Bieber sang the entire hook in Spanish. Despacito was already a great song, Bieber’s part is not bad, and as a native Spanish speaker, I was pretty excited to hear a global celebrity sing in my language.
I’m a big fan of Spanish. I love running into fellow Spanish speakers on campus, I love Latin American literature, and it makes me weirdly happy to hear announcements or ads in Spanish while riding the NYC subway or DC’s Metro. I also love the impact that Latin American culture is having in the United States: it makes me proud to see my American friends enjoying Venezuelan arepas y tequeños, and hearing people dancing to the latest Chino y Nacho hit at random college parties truly warms my heart.
As a result, I felt that the remix of Luis Fonsi’s Despacito with Justin Bieber was a kind of win: Bieber was not only featured in a Spanish-speaking artist’s song, but he was actually speaking the language. I listened to the song ad nauseam and forced my parents to listen to it. It was good while it lasted, at least.
Recently, a video surfaced where Justin Bieber is shown attempting to sing the song at a New York City night club, and it was a disaster: he could not remember a single word aside from “Despacito”, the literal name of the song. Bieber proceeded to scream and babble incomprehensibly, shouting stuff like “blah blah” and what’s worse: he yelled what I assume he thought were Spanish-sounding noises as if they were some kind of acceptable substitute for the actual words. He laughed as he shouted words like “burrito” and “Dorito” to try and fill in the gaps.
“¡Está borracho!” (“he’s drunk!”), said my mom. Die-hard fans will say that he can’t be faulted for the mistake because he was drunk, he wasn’t performing, and he merely forgot the words to a song in a different language. However, during an Instagram Live, Bieber is seen alone doing the exact same thing again — recreating, if not worsening, his previous offence. The Instagram video shows that he didn’t just forget the words, he never knew them in the first place. God knows why, he decided that making fun of Spanish (again!) would be a good idea.
Look, as anyone that knows me can attest, I’m no radical and I’m not one to be easily offended by stuff, but listening to Justin Bieber use my language to make a fortune and then mock it repeatedly without remorse makes my blood boil. Sure, Purpose was a good album (I even paid to see him lip sync it live!) but it seems as though Justin Bieber has gone back to being what I always thought he was: an entitled brat who can’t tell right from wrong. I don’t blame him for not knowing the words in Spanish, but his mockery of the language is completely unacceptable.
Justin Bieber has shown he can’t sing in Spanish without making fun of it, so he simply shouldn’t. I, for one, won’t listen to Despacito Remix ever again, and I hope you won’t either. Bieber’s remix sent the song to the global #1, but I can’t listen to it at the expense of 400 million Spanish speakers. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s original version in Spanish is perfect as it is, and that’s what I’ll be listening to.