Not quite at one view, on average, per person on this planet
March 31, 2019 7:56 AM   Subscribe

On YouTube, the video for Despacito (Luis Fonsi, featuring Daddy Yankee) has passed six billion views and approaches three million comments (population). This is roughly two billion views more than the next most watched video, Shape of You by Ed Sheeran, which was also uploaded in January 2017. Around 30 videos on YouTube now exceed two billion views each. With its 110 week Billboard chart run ending (also joint most weeks at Billboard Hot 100 #1), views of the record-breaking song (wikipedia arguments) may slow further. Previously, on the phenomenon, popularity, and an alternate version. Also, Keira Knightley's teeth. (FPP inspiration)
posted by Wordshore (98 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
A Justin Bieber-Taylor Swift-Ed Sheeran-Katy Perry dance track ft. Bruno Mars and Charlie Puth would probably break the Internet.
posted by Quaversalis at 8:10 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Oh man - thank you for bringing (via the previously...phenonmenon) link this comment into my world:
Oh good, I have a place to put this now: Ernie and Rubber Duckie - El Patito.
posted by hippybear at 5:58 PM on August 28, 2017 [19 favorites +] [!]
posted by mce at 8:12 AM on March 31 [18 favorites]


I have no recollection of even posting that but I'm delighted that you reminded me of it just now! El Patito... *wanders away humming*
posted by hippybear at 8:17 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


A Justin Bieber-Taylor Swift-Ed Sheeran-Katy Perry dance track ft. Bruno Mars and Charlie Puth would probably break the Internet.

Yep. If the video had a guest appearance by Sachin Tendulkar playing a good shot, then that will easily be enough for it to sail past the Number of views > Population of Earth mark.
posted by Wordshore at 8:18 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


TI"L" that there is a shared global culture and it's mostly meh.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:44 AM on March 31 [7 favorites]


I love that Despacito has subs in Japanese and Spanish but not English. Also absolutely would not have realized it's an American video without reading about it, because I'm dumb like that.
posted by Nelson at 8:49 AM on March 31


And to think, there are people out there, maybe even members of this very website, that have never heard this pinnacle of sonic artistry! #OwnATVButItsJustUsedAsAComputerMonitor
posted by glonous keming at 8:56 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


If you're so disconnected with popular culture to where you are unaware of a song that has been playing for over two years, it doesn't really have anything to do with owning a TV but really everything to do with whether you engage with popular culture on any level or not.
posted by hippybear at 8:59 AM on March 31 [10 favorites]


Well shit, now I have to make sure I never watch it. Gonna spend the rest of my days trying to avoid being rickrolled by this damn song. Argh.
posted by aramaic at 9:02 AM on March 31


Well, it's now 95 million up over 6 billion, and the top comments are all about "just here checking the view count".

I actually sat and watched the whole thing for once and was massively underwhelmed. Is there some history of this being used as a dumb racist meme that I'm not aware of? Nothing about this sounds like it's getting this many views based on its own random merits or un-ironic views like Turn Down for What or even Gangam Style.
posted by loquacious at 9:11 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


It's not my thing - I have to concentrate when listening to differentiate the verses from the chorus - but the near-neighbours across the road, who are a household of students from Spain and Argentina who always have their windows open, absolutely love it. And account for, quite possibly, a significant proportion of the views/downloads/listens.

Each to their own. They would probably find the things I like watching the most on YouTube weird.
posted by Wordshore at 9:18 AM on March 31


... I think it's just that it's super catchy?
posted by ChuraChura at 9:19 AM on March 31 [26 favorites]


And to think, there are people out there, maybe even members of this very website, that have never heard this pinnacle of sonic artistry!

That'd be me. Never heard the Sheeran song either, and though I have heard Knightley play her teeth before, I think it was Mary Had a Little Lamb.
posted by dobbs at 9:21 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


The Switched on Pop folks dissect it for all the doubters.
FWIW, I don't especially like it, but it's definitely no worse than 95% of popular pop music in English or other languages.
posted by signal at 9:25 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


I've only ever heard 3 of those top 30 (and one of those is Baby Shark) which I think is some sort of Old achievement. I don't even know what kind of music Taylor Swift makes. (Is it country? Some kind of pop country hybrid? I get the impression that whatever it is, it's extremely white.) Though weirdly I know what the general zeitgeist about whether or not you're supposed to hate her is.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:27 AM on March 31


I remember when Dunkirk came out and people were mad that Nolan cast Ed Sheeran in it and I'd never heard of him. I've seen the movie twice and am still not sure which one he is since all the pale skinny English kids in that film look alike.
posted by octothorpe at 9:30 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


I think you're thinking of Harry Styles (though for a second I was like, Joe Jonas? No wait, that's not right).

Ed Sheeran was in an episode of Game of Thrones, though. It was cringey.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:33 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


whether you engage with popular culture on any level or not.

It is my lawn, and I say who should be on it.
posted by otherchaz at 9:44 AM on March 31 [6 favorites]


And to think, there are people out there, maybe even members of this very website, that have never heard this pinnacle of sonic artistry!

I started to listen to it once just to figure out what people were talking about. I think that was 6 months ago. I wasn't into it and closed the tab.

I've probably heard it in the unavoidable background radiation of modern life, but I don't think I would recognize it if someone played it for me.
posted by Foosnark at 9:47 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


Despacito is a fantastic song, and those of you who aren't listening because of some misguided need to be above it all are really missing out.
posted by moss at 9:48 AM on March 31 [54 favorites]


I think you're thinking of Harry Styles (though for a second I was like, Joe Jonas? No wait, that's not right).


Oh damn, you're right. And I'm clueless about popstars as usual.
posted by octothorpe at 9:49 AM on March 31


Despacito is a fantastic song, and those of you who aren't listening because of some misguided need to be above it all are really missing out.

Sorry, I know I shouldn't be so cynical, but so is Darude's Sandstorm and Rick Astely's Never Gonna Give You Up. And if I want to listen to latin dance/bass pop there's tons of good stuff out there, and Nortec has been a thing for ages, and I'm drowning in good new music so it's weird to say I'm missing out.

I'm questioning why this video has 6 billion views now and I doubt it's just because of the song, which while good is pretty standard forgettable pop.

I don't trust the internet any more and I'm wondering where the shenanigans are.
posted by loquacious at 10:09 AM on March 31 [11 favorites]


I kinda wish this post was titled: "This is so sad. Alexa play Despacito" even though that wouldn't exactly fit with Youtube. And I'm a little sorry Psy isn't still at the top. But was interesting going through the list of the 30 with 2+ billion plays.

I have no idea why a Russian cartoon (Masha and the Bear) was at number 6 with 3.5B views, but I'm glad I watched it. I can see the universal appeal of a Bear trying to understand the nuances of checkers while his house is being filled floor to ceiling with raspberry oatmeal.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 10:30 AM on March 31 [14 favorites]


I don't even like Despacito that much and I'm responsible for like 100 of those views because it's an earworm and actually listening to the song has a fair chance of getting it out of my head for awhile.
posted by Sequence at 10:32 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


If you're so disconnected with popular culture to where you are unaware of a song that has been playing for over two years, it doesn't really have anything to do with owning a TV but really everything to do with whether you engage with popular culture on any level or not.

Not everyone travels in the same circles. Not only have I not heard the song, I've never even heard of the song. Not only have I not heard the mentioned Sheeran song, I've never heard any Sheeran song -- and I've only heard 5 of those top 30 videos.

But... I talk to music addicts literally every single day that I'm not on vacation.

I'm drowning in good new music so it's weird to say I'm missing out.

Loquacious has it (as usual). There's not enough hours in the day to listen to all the good music. I've made my living selling music since 2005 -- it's very easy to go through life hearing only great stuff without X hit being part of your world.
posted by dobbs at 10:34 AM on March 31 [11 favorites]


I like Despacito a lot. It's a good, fun song. Not better than a thousand other songs, but it is catchy and fun. Nothing particularly clever or interesting in the composing, performance, video, any of that. It's just fun. That's what music should be, it doesn't have to break new ground in the musical universe.

I'd never heard of Shape of You before this post. Seems weird, because while I am a low-key "I don't really watch TV" guy, I don't go out of my way to avoid pop culture. Anyway, I like that too. I just added several views to its count.
posted by ctmf at 10:36 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


It is fairly easy to be disconnected from sections of popular culture without even trying. There's so much TV and movie content to watch without actually watching commercial TV that I never channel surf or just stumble on something randomly. Likewise with music streaming, you don't hear random radio music just the stuff that you already know that you like so there's very little chance of hitting something outside of your predefined boundaries. Even YouTube only suggests things to me that it thinks I'll like based on what I've watched before so I tend to stay in my lane.
posted by octothorpe at 10:49 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


Much more interesting to me is the cross-referencing of those most-viewed YT videos with the list of most-disliked. There is a lot of correspondence! Despacerito here is the 5th most disliked video on YouTube while simultaneously being the most-liked and most-viewed. Absolutely hegemonic.
posted by glonous keming at 10:49 AM on March 31


Despacito is a fantastic song, and those of you who aren't listening because of some misguided need to be above it all are really missing out.

Haha, I'm getting this image of how other people see me:
"Despacito," he snorted. "So mainstream, and not in the way that you can appreciate ironically" (his vintage turntable was playing a vintage private-press psychedelic album, it's super obscure but the guitar player was actually a pretty big influence on a lot of people in the early 70s country-rock scene). "I bet it's catchy, upbeat music that lots of people enjoy for its melody and syncopated beat -- I guess most people can't handle interesting music, like loud, harsh metal where the lead singer screams into the microphone." But, he figured, he might as well take the opportunity to see what the masses are into. He lifted the needle off his record (it's a test pressing, by the way) and listened to 30 seconds of "Despacito" on his iPhone. It was all he could handle. Ugh, normie music to be played at the beach or at a club where people actually dance instead of just standing around very slightly nodding their heads. He didn't want to find out if the melody was infectious, so he blasted dreary, introspective post-punk until the Caribbean-inspired beat faded from his memory.
I mean this all in good fun (and also, I like to come up with the worst version of myself). I just think it's funny that it looks like superiority, when really, I just never got around to hearing it. I mean, I don't even remember to follow up on my own emails (which, by the way, note to self). If I don't hear a song in playing in a store or something, I might never hear it (that's how I missed "Call Me Maybe," and I think I heard that Ed Sheeran song in a Uniqlo pretty recently). Now that I've finally heard "Despacito," I don't think it's a bad song, but it's really not my thing.

Still -- 6 billion views! Here I was thinking Gangnam Style was still the record-holder.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:50 AM on March 31 [9 favorites]


I'm questioning why this video has 6 billion views now and I doubt it's just because of the song, which while good is pretty standard forgettable pop.

I don't trust the internet any more and I'm wondering where the shenanigans are


Ok, but what sort of thing would you expect to get 6 billion views?

Like, this is a blandly popular super-mainstream song with wide demographic appeal that's been charting in the US for two years, and in lots of other countries for just as long, during the peak of YouTube's popularity so far. You can think it sucks and be confused about why it ever got so popular — but given that it's been that popular, why be surprised that people are watching it?
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:51 AM on March 31 [5 favorites]


Pretty sure this is an integration test to make sure the view count isn't limited to a 32bit integer in any part of YouTube's stack.
posted by lawrencium at 10:51 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


(Of course I'm joking, but it's not that far fetched)
posted by lawrencium at 10:53 AM on March 31


I'm drowning in good new music so it's weird to say I'm missing out.

Nobody's saying you're missing out. They're saying there's no need to be a dick about other people liking popular things.
posted by asterix at 11:05 AM on March 31 [9 favorites]


Despacito is super fun to dance to — and middle aged women like me who love Zumba and Dance aerobics have definitely made up a good portion of the views.
posted by Malla at 11:09 AM on March 31 [5 favorites]


You can think it sucks and be confused about why it ever got so popular — but given that it's been that popular, why be surprised that people are watching it?

I haven't said it actually sucks or I'm confused about why someone might like it, and I'm not one of the people who has not been unaware of the songs popularity for the last 2 years. For goodness sake, I'm a deep house DJ. I flirt with pop music all the time and have played a Kylie Minogue remix in the last year. Lately I want to steal all of the 80s Michael Jackson bass lines and turn them into thumping minimal deep house and the only thing that's stopping me is not wanting to get sued into a fine powder of elemental ash.

I think the song is fine and catchy and all. I really like the techy triples and house style cut-outs in the rhythm signature. It's tight.

I also have a backlog of something like a thousand good deep house deep cuts that I need to listen to, and I can barely keep up with my feeds as it is.

And people actually really like Never Gonna Give You Up, too, and it's not a horrible song.

But like Never Gonna Give You Up there seems to be something else going on that's related to whatever turbofucked meme economy that seems to be in charge of things these days. I see the meme "Play Despacito" all over the place, with a lot of overlap with fringe/edge and even alt right circles.

Usually I have this kind of thing sussed out earlier and have something more substantial to say than "something is fishy and I don't know what". It's been driving my intuition crazy, well, on whatever ambient levels I've bothered to thinking about it.

At the root of this I'm just vaguely worried this is going to end up being revealed as yet another way that the internet can be shitty and racist or something and how there's almost always irony and sarcasm seething beneath the surface, and the surface for this sort of thing is rarely what it seems. I'm not hating on the song itself.
posted by loquacious at 11:12 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


Let me say this even more supportively:

If you like this song and it makes you dance, fuck yeah, play it till your ears bleed. I'm all for dance and whatever makes people happy.


I'm definitely not trying to be a music hipster or gatekeeper here or spoil anyone's enjoyment of the song or any song. Would it help if I confessed to screeching along to NIN, Kate Bush and Siouxie just this week? That I think Seal is pretty good?

The particular rabbit I'm chasing down a hole isn't about that or whether or not it's a good song. I'm trying to figure out the actual links between the memes and the song and the songs massive out of scale view count.

I kind of want to see what the plays are like on other platforms like Spotify or Pandora, if it's there. Or in actual music purchases.

If the YouTube views are much higher and don't map to the other platforms, I would say that means something but I'm not sure what it means.
posted by loquacious at 11:24 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


At the intersection of A Cappella and Pop Music and Science Education are acapellascience's parody covers of Despacito and Shape of You.
posted by otherchaz at 11:29 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


Gotta say, the raw numbers are kind of uninteresting here. There are so many more interesting ways to cut up Youtube viewership numbers that would be way, way more interesting.

If the YouTube views are much higher and don't map to the other platforms, I would say that means something but I'm not sure what it means.

Youtubes Georg.
posted by mhoye at 11:34 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


The song has spent 110 weeks on the US Billboard charts. Like, it's literally been in the public consciousness for over 2 years. And that's just the US, not global numbers.

I don't think the YouTube numbers are that out of whack, really.
posted by hippybear at 11:48 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


Note I also haven't said it was a particularly smart or useful rabbit hole to be chasing down, so you don't necessarily have to follow me.

I'll say something if I come up with or hear anything, and will bow out of the derail.

I'm usually on to something, though. This has been pinging my radar and bugging me for a while, these aren't brand new off the cuff thoughts formed in this thread.
posted by loquacious at 12:04 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Or I can also offer this more amusing and even more tangential derail about music streaming and digital music sharing, and if anything it supports the 6 billion play count being mostly organic.

Many, many dozens of moons ago I worked in a large university campus IT department on a sub campus.

MP3s were still fairly new. The iPod wasn't a thing yet, and if the Nomad was a thing it was brand new. Storing, listening to and transporting MP3s and MPEGs for the purposes of music wasn't really a solved problem yet, and on a technical layer this is what YouTube really is, is an MPEG sharing site.

Napster wasn't even a thing yet, this is how early it was.

So this is in an era when 5GB hard drives were still pretty expensive. If you had a laptop at all it had maybe a gigabyte or two of space if you were lucky. Your phone definitely did not have the space to haul around MP3s, either, much less play them, and USB thumb drives were a thing, but at around 8 MB, not GB.

However, what the campus did have was a fuckton of bandwidth all over the place, with most buildings already wired with gigabit ethernet and 100 mbit to almost any given desk. Even better? 20+ ISP connections and backbones, including links to the early Abilene/Internet 2 super high speed backbones.

Thus a bunch of the higher nerds and wizards with keys to things rightfully decided to build a little MP3 server for our department that included lots of remote access and a public face and login system - which, yeah, today, today that's probably totally illegal and would make legal and HR and IT rightfully freak the fuck out.

So they pooled their money and purchased about 50 gigabytes of drives, built a tidy little PC case functioning both as a server and a sort of NAS, someone programmed a really basic web interface for uploading and downloading files, and since Shoutcast was a thing you could also just play and stream the mp3s from any player as a location... and no, no this did not end well.

At some point six months-ish after the start of this server the very top head nerd at central IT - who was also, thankfully, a Deadhead and a taper! - came down from on high and very apologetically asked us to knock it off.

Because that month our little server had consumed something like 50-75% of the internal network traffic and managed to use up something like 90% of the total or FOUR TIMES our normal monthly external internet load. At a campus that was a major academic internet and research hub where they threw around huge piles of data all day and night long.

With a membership roster to the server that was, oh, maybe a few hundred people with access. Maybe a thousand. It was mainly just us IT nerds and work (not student) alumni and our friends streaming from it or uploading and downloading from home. One of the guys that ran it had a media player at home patched into it and mirroring it.

So that was the end of that.

As I recall at least one of the people involved in this was heavily involved at Oink.FM from the beginning, which was effectively based on the same direct server system, membership and interface, and equally doomed.
posted by loquacious at 12:40 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


Rather than some ulterior shenanigans, I suspect we just underestimate how many people around the world have YouTube up all day playing auto-generated playlists that likely hit the same top 40 songs with crossover appeal over and over again
posted by Think_Long at 1:10 PM on March 31 [9 favorites]


Bert, at 25 seconds, in the Sesame Street alternate version, from August 2017: "oh no, not this song again".
posted by idiopath at 1:37 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


Of all the Sesame Street populace, I suspect Bert is the most likely to have a MetaFilter membership.
posted by hippybear at 1:39 PM on March 31 [30 favorites]


vi-IV-I-V just like the chorus of Africa and a host of other songs.
posted by emelenjr at 1:43 PM on March 31


Despacito is a fantastic song, and those of you who aren't listening because of some misguided need to be above it all are really missing out.

Some of us only like sad songs sung by unhappy people.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:55 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


I feel like this thread contains many clues as to why the politics threads go the way they do.
posted by weed donkey at 2:02 PM on March 31 [12 favorites]


Rather than some ulterior shenanigans

Sheeranigans, surely.

Because that month our little server had consumed something like 50-75% of the internal network traffic and managed to use up something like 90% of the total or FOUR TIMES our normal monthly external internet load.

Many years ago I worked IT for a satellite campus of a small community college. This was back in the heyday of Limewire et al. A work buddy and I set up a trio of spare computers dedicated to vacuuming up pirated music and movies 24/7. We may have gotten a bit greedy. Eventually the main campus noticed the alarming spike in network traffic and threatened us with a packet sniffer. Good times.

Some of us only like sad songs sung by unhappy people.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:55 PM on March 31

Eponysterical (in an achingly sad sort of way).
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:03 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


if you want to know what the future will be like, imagine Bert and Oscar, locked in an interminable internet argument, forever
posted by idiopath at 2:05 PM on March 31 [5 favorites]


You know Oscar is totes a channer.
posted by darkstar at 2:21 PM on March 31


You know Oscar is totes a channer.

this hurts me
he is a monster that lives in the trash but that doesn't make him a trash monster
posted by halation at 2:27 PM on March 31 [22 favorites]


Well, maybe he just Reddits, then.
posted by darkstar at 2:29 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Of all the Sesame Street populace, I suspect Bert is the most likely to have a MetaFilter membership.

*sigh* Okay, I confess. I am Bert.

Some of us only like sad songs sung by unhappy people.

I am literally listening to a 222 song playlist right now called "Sad Mix."

That said, I pretty much like every type of music, and also have multiple play lists devoted to rattling the windows.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:34 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


I worry where "play Despacito" fits into an internet culture where the other top memes are "subscribe to pewdiepie", "no collusion" and "throw cheese at your children".
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:13 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


I worry where "play Despacito" fits into an internet culture where the other top memes are "subscribe to pewdiepie", "no collusion" and "throw cheese at your children".

It's probably much safer if only because it was made by (and primarily for) brown people.
posted by mightygodking at 4:22 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


If it helps, I see the Alexa play Despacito meme all over fannish internet, which is largely lefty and very queer
posted by airmail at 4:30 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Okay, I confess. I am Bert.

From this day forward, all IRFH comments will be read, in my mind, in Bert's voice. This had never occurred to me before, but it's possible it is the key to true understanding.
posted by hippybear at 5:20 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


> it's very easy to go through life hearing only great stuff without X hit being part of your world

I don't understand how anyone in the US (or North America or basically the entire universe) could have not heard this before. Do you not go to grocery stores? Are you never put on hold?

I was confused by the "I've never heard of the Cupid Shuffle" discussion, too, as that is also unavoidable in my life. I wonder what pop culture I've completely missed. Anything involving video games, I guess.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:24 PM on March 31


Okay, I confess. I am Bert.

Considering that Frank Oz is the voice AND hand behind Bert, as well as Grover, Cookie Monster, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Miss Piggy AND Sam the Eagle, I bow to you, IRFH.

I wish I could lay claim on just a Marvin Suggs or Lew Zealand...
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:36 PM on March 31


I wonder what pop culture I've completely missed.

The entire genre of "reaction" YouTube videos relies on the ability of people to go through life never encountering $thing you think is ubiquitous.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:46 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Hand on heart, I have seen many references to "play Despacito", but have never seen or heard or even wanted to find out about the thing itself. But this post made it so convenient to do so, that I did it, and now I am no longer a part of the counter-culture, and I don't know how to feel about that.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:47 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


I don't understand how anyone in the US (or North America or basically the entire universe) could have not heard this before. Do you not go to grocery stores? Are you never put on hold?


*sheepishly raises hand*

I’d never heard it before this FPP. :-/

Basically, that’s one of the reasons I frequent MeFi, to find out about all the things I’m missing. :)
posted by darkstar at 5:51 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


Being a part of the counter-culture doesn't mean you remain outside mainstream culture. It means you are aware of mainstream culture and are working to create a culture that is alongside and outside of it.
posted by hippybear at 5:51 PM on March 31


No wonder all of my previous hard work in doing counter-culture has been so ineffective, I didn't even know what it was.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:16 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


I don't understand how anyone in the US (or North America or basically the entire universe) could have not heard this before. Do you not go to grocery stores? Are you never put on hold?

*shrug* I'm pretty music obsessed but I've never heard this - it has no familiarity at all. I have no feelings about this. Sorry?
posted by deadwax at 6:20 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


One slice of popular culture that I remain completely unaware of is rap. I hear names of Big Famous Rappers and I'm always, like who? And I don't mean that as an insult. It's a slice of what is happening in our culture that I don't seek out at all, so it's not surprising that I'm not familiar with it.
posted by hippybear at 6:23 PM on March 31


I don't understand how anyone in the US (or North America or basically the entire universe) could have not heard this before.

That's what I think is interesting about all this. How there could be a song with 6 billion-with-a-B views on YouTube, and a whole bunch of fairly internet-connected people could have gone until today without hearing it, including me. Beats me how that happened, but I think it probably says something about how fragmented media is these days. It's not like we're all listening to the same radio stations or watching the same TV news. People can and do occupy totally different worlds, online and in person, without even realizing it.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:48 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


I wonder if this represents some place on YouTube's growth curve where there are more people who search every day for "top youtube video" than there are people who search for any particular song, so Despacito's popularity snowballs until it can never not be the #1 most watched video.
posted by straight at 10:49 PM on March 31


Despacito is one of those things I kept hearing about but never looked up.

I’ll get around to it. One day.
posted by um at 10:53 PM on March 31


I remember hearing Despacito in the spring of 2017, probably because of some internet thing, and really liking it, and then getting a little obsessed with it, but I never heard it on the radio or in stores or anything here in Seattle.

But I spent a lot of that summer on the road - and I heard it EVERYWHERE I went. DC, Greece, SF, Boston, everywhere. It was basically inescapable in NYC.

So I guess if you live somewhere like Seattle, I can see how you would have missed it? But it’s honestly a bit baffling. I mean, it was a huge fucking hit. Globally massive. It doesn’t surprise me at all that it has so many views on YouTube and I don’t think it’s shenanigans.
posted by lunasol at 11:29 PM on March 31


I've worked my way through that list of the thirty most viewed videos, which was ... work, to a large degree. About two thirds of the entries I've heard before (50yo male, rural England, not a heavy consumer of popular culture).

Despacito I've heard many times previously, but the song on there I've heard the most is Ed Sheeran's Shape of You, which I don't like. To me, his music is polished to try and make it sound somehow 'authentic' and it doesn't come off.

Why I've heard it the most is that I sometimes do my work in a lovely university campus, about six miles walk away. For well over a year, the radio being piped through to some of the rooms had three songs on extremely frequent rotation - the aforementioned Shape of You, Rockabye (which is also in that top 30 list) and Be The One by Dua Lipa which I've come to like and, in my head, associate with that rural academic place with a sense of nostalgia. I'm a little surprised it's "only" got 354 million views, but looking it up it was never released in the USA.

As with a previous comment I really enjoyed the Masha and The Bear video, with the overproduction of porridge. Don't know why, and I'm not overanalysing it; it made me smile.
posted by Wordshore at 11:54 PM on March 31


Just here checking the comments.
posted by filtergik at 1:55 AM on April 1


I don't understand how anyone in the US (or North America or basically the entire universe) could have not heard this before. Do you not go to grocery stores? Are you never put on hold?

I can't remember the last time time I was on hold but I don't make too many phone calls. Stores here seem to play 80s and 90s pop; I'd actually find it pretty surprising to hear contemporary music in a shop.
posted by octothorpe at 4:18 AM on April 1


I'm questioning why this video has 6 billion views now and I doubt it's just because of the song, which while good is pretty standard forgettable pop.

Okay, I'll play.

The video is a love letter to a neighborhood (and its people) that less than a year after filming was battered by hurricane Maria (link autoplays the video). I'm no population expert, but I can spitball that MANY people have a fondness for neighborhoods that look just like that -- kids running around, old dudes playing games, etc. Our leading lady has a name - she's Zuleyka Rivera, actress and former Miss Universe. We wait the entire video for her and the also very easy-on-the-eyes Fonsi to finally get together and dance.

And video aside, YouTube is a very accessible platform for people to simply LISTEN to music on without even caring about the video. I can't listen to Despacito on Pandora without Pandora Premium. I can't listen to it on Spotify without creating a login. And a large population of people don't have access to thousands of deep house cuts that MUST be listened to. Some of them just want to listen to their favorite song on repeat for a month and a half. (Source: me, formerly a teenaged girl who would record the A track over the B side of the cassingle and let Walkman's auto-reverse work its magic.)

MetaFilter is a community of internet-connected people, but still a walled garden in most respects. And it's never ever more evident than when people are shocked, SHOCKED at what's popular.
posted by kimberussell at 5:21 AM on April 1 [15 favorites]


I don't understand how anyone in the US (or North America or basically the entire universe) could have not heard this before. Do you not go to grocery stores? Are you never put on hold?

We are in an age where there is literally so much media being produced that most of will die having seen maybe 5% of it. Nearly nothing is "ubiquitous" anymore, and anything you think of as such is probably not. It's easy to assume that because something is totally common for you it must be for everyone, but we're all out here swimming in our own little ponds of media consumption. Is there overlap? Sure, but there's a lot of disjoint bits too.

So for example, for myself, I've heard of Despacito, but I seriously think only because it showed up on MeFi in an article about how it was everywhere, and yet that was the first I'd heard of it. In the time since I don't think I've heard the song more than once, because I listened to it to see what was up with it.

Similarly:

I was confused by the "I've never heard of the Cupid Shuffle" discussion, too, as that is also unavoidable in my life.

I have literally no idea what this is. If you told me it was a name you made up to sound like a plausible meme, I would believe it.

The tl;dr is that we're so far beyond the point where a small set of producers defines pop culture that outside of some very rare, very well funded stuff (e.g. Star Wars), there really is not a worldwide "pop culture" anymore.
posted by tocts at 5:46 AM on April 1


OK, OK, I just tried the Despacito link so I could tell myself I had heard it, but I quit about half way through. It's kind of generic.
posted by pracowity at 6:59 AM on April 1


I thought "this thing is super popular and I'm going to demonstrate my superiority by expressing contempt for it" was the dumbest kind of discourse I could read on the Internet. But we've one-upped it here with "I've never heard this thing and I'm still not going to listen. But here I am commenting to tell you all that."

Also if you're American and haven't heard this song before, consider finding ways to add a bit more Latinx culture in your life. It's good stuff!
posted by Nelson at 7:17 AM on April 1 [10 favorites]


The only Despacito content on the Internet that matters.

Puppeteer: Alina Mertic
posted by Rock Steady at 7:42 AM on April 1


MetaFilter is a community of internet-connected people, but still a walled garden in most respects. And it's never ever more evident than when people are shocked, SHOCKED at what's popular.

100%. The fragmentation of media and the viewer/listenerbase is absolutely a Thing but this is the sort of topic that highlights how metafilter really does have quite a narrow demographic. There's whole worlds of culture - mainstream pop culture, fan culture, basically anything outside of the US - that either don't appear at all on the site's radar or only do so long after they've been discussed elsewhere.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 9:27 AM on April 1 [5 favorites]


Time for an informal Ask The Blue:

Despacito has been an earworm since reading this post, and I've been digging in to the "Reggaeton Essentials" playlist on Apple Music, but most of it seems to be lacking the kind of "crossover" ballad/reggaeton/pop feel of Despacito. Any recommendations in that vein?
posted by Rock Steady at 9:56 AM on April 1


> Despacito is one of those things I kept hearing about but never looked up.

I’ll get around to it. One day.


I mean... it's right there. At the top of the page that you wrote this comment on. You don't have to look it up at all.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:06 AM on April 1 [6 favorites]


This is basically all I know of Despacito, and I submit it is all anyone need ever know.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 11:52 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]


this is the sort of topic that highlights how metafilter really does have quite a narrow demographic.

For what it's worth, everyone I know outside this site seems to have heard the song, which I know because of how shocked people were when I mentioned I'd never heard it. "But it was everywhere!" So it's not only a demographic thing. I think it's just pretty easy to skip something if you don't happen to hear it out in public.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:46 PM on April 1


The video is a love letter to a neighborhood (and its people) that less than a year after filming was battered by hurricane Maria (link autoplays the video).

This was part of the backstory I didn't know or understand, and makes a whole lot more sense.

And yeah, pretty much everyone I know or have met from any part of Central or Latin America is almost constantly listening to music, so it makes sense that it gets an inordinate or out of scale number of views.

And, again, I'm not trying to tear it down or really critique the song itself or declare it doesn't deserve billions of views - that's not what I'm on about here and, again, I would like to not be lumped in with the people who are saying "I don't get it / never heard it / don't like it" because I am not saying those things. I've heard it plenty of times, I get it, and I don't hate it, I'm drowning in good new dance music, etc.

And I really shouldn't be so cynical, but I've been smelling weird shenanigans about this where there's more than one thing going on on more than one layer. It really does remind me of some weird, oblique meme or rickroll because I see that "play despacito" text meme in a lot of pretty unsavory internet places and contexts that seem to be at odds with actually appreciating the song or the back story about hurricane Maria or even appreciating or respecting Latino culture.

And this also seems to be a weird internet culture segmentation/fragmentation. I'm not sure how much of MetaFilter (or the actual fans of the song, or whatever mainstream cultural segment that's picked it up as a rightfully catchy tune) sees of this very shitty and toxic side of the internet.

I don't think that the shenanigans I'm smelling are responsible for even a major fraction of the total views, so it's not even really the view count I'm primarily curious about, but rather the fact I can't figure out what these shenanigans really are besides possibly just more ambient racism or maybe scorning normies for being basic or something from the chansite and T_D demographic.

Again, this is a weird, dumb rabbit hole to be investigating in a seething hurricane of ongoing internet bullshit and toxic behavior and it might as well be background noise in the face of all that. I'm not trying to associate the song with negative shit or tear it down or ruin peoples enjoyment of it.

I'm trying to figure out and ponder why it's also popular as a meme with people who would normally be very toxic and racist about these things. People who are so toxic that they probably think hurricane Maria was funny.
posted by loquacious at 1:01 PM on April 1


this is the sort of topic that highlights how metafilter really does have quite a narrow demographic.

I think it's more that music has an increasingly narrow demographic. A song that was clearly in the zeitgeist for an entire year shouldn't get a "never heard it." 20 years ago, everyone knew (of) "Macarena." 10 years ago I think we all had one of those Black Eyed Peas songs stuck in our head. Now, well, we're so divided and sub-divided that there isn't a zeitgeist unless you're really into music and willing to drill in and pan across everything going on in music.

"Sicko Mode" was one of the weirdest, craziest, catchiest songs of last year. It went to #1, was certified 5x platinum in the US and platinum in the UK, and generated an entire convo around Drake's "half a Xan" verse. How many of you have heard it, though? How many of you, when it starts playing its distinctive distorted synth intro, would know exactly what it is?

Music has completely collapsed into tiny fiefdoms of fandom. It's still valuable to people who love music, but we live in a time where 90% of the music we hear is oldies or lo-fi (aka the "smooth jazz of hip hop").

MeFi does have a narrow, not extremely diverse demographic, this is true. I doubt, though, even if it were diverse and more urbane, there would still be a lot of "what is 'Despacito' anyway?" coming from this group.
posted by dw at 1:03 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


> I'm trying to figure out and ponder why it's also popular as a meme with people who would normally be very toxic and racist about these things

"This is so sad alexa play despacito" is popular as a meme with a big chunk of the goofy Internet, not just toxic and racist people. While toxic and racist people do have their own memes, surely they share many memes with the rest of us.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:47 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


"This is so sad alexa play despacito" isn't some racist shibboleth. It's a meme that started on Tumblr as a shitpost mocking responses to sad facebook posts (which were only being done ironically at the time, making this two layers of irony deep). Basically it's subverting performative reactions over social media ("this is so sad, let's boost this") by conveying that you are going to say the right thing because it's expected but you are really just going to go about doing inane things like normal.

No conspiracy here, just a very well-timed shitpost that only related to Despacito itself insofar as it was a popular song that someone would be listening to.
posted by FakeFreyja at 2:45 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]


dw: "20 years ago, everyone knew (of) "Macarena." "

So, back in 1994, I was in Oruro, Bolivia for Carnival. We went dancing. We're having a good time, when all of a sudden this weird song comes and the everybody except us lines up and starts doing these moves, hands on hips, cross arms, shake etc., everybody except us.
We look at each other like whattheduck? Turns out it was the Macarena, which was inescapably popular and had a dance, and neither of us had heard of it or seen it, probably because we'd been traveling through Perú and Bolivia for more than a month without watching TV or listening to the radio or going to parties.
It was a really strange thing to watch a disco full of people get excited about and start doing the same dance to a song you'd never heard, kind of like those scenes in movies where everybody dances in sync spontaneously and you're like 'yeah right, that would never happen in real life'.
posted by signal at 5:34 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


I can take or leave Despacito, OTOH, I've a soft spot for the Sheeran video. I think it's a funny case where the video is better than just the song by itself. It's a romance. It's got story arc. It's got a sumo wrestler, and a high-flying kick in slow mo by the lady boxer at the very end. Excellent!!
posted by storybored at 9:58 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


This thread makes me realize how White MetaFilter actually is, and how old (relative to the global population that YouTube is pulling from)

Despacito has been an earworm since reading this post, and I've been digging in to the "Reggaeton Essentials" playlist on Apple Music, but most of it seems to be lacking the kind of "crossover" ballad/reggaeton/pop feel of Despacito. Any recommendations in that vein?

A lot of these people sing together and some of this leans more pop than reggaeton, but specific recs:
Shakira's recent stuff (Chantaje and Comme moi and a lot of El Dorado plus the pop-y La Bicicleta, which she sings with Carlos Vives)
Luis Fonsi (Echame la culpa)
Maluma (Felices los 4, Mi Declaración)
J Balvin (Mi Gente, Machika)
Ozuna (Se Preparó)
most of Daddy Yankee's long career (he's the guy who did Gasolina back in the day, speaking of songs in that vein)
Pitbull's Spanish and Spanglish stuff, particularly where he's a featured artist (Echa pa aca, Bon bon, El Taxi)

There's also a station on Google Play (should be open to anyone with a Google account) called Latin Summer Takeover that's actually really good for that sort of song. I also like G Play's stations La mezcla and Dancing with the Broom.

One of these days I should do a post on the really interesting Spanglish crossovers that are happening right now between artists like Cardi B and Beyoncé and Demi Lovato and artists like Luis Fonsi and Pitbull and J Balvin.
posted by librarylis at 11:48 AM on April 2 [4 favorites]


Well I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Despacito
posted by betweenthebars at 2:19 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]


Despacito has been an earworm since reading this post, and I've been digging in to the "Reggaeton Essentials" playlist on Apple Music, but most of it seems to be lacking the kind of "crossover" ballad/reggaeton/pop feel of Despacito. Any recommendations in that vein?

Since you mentioned looking on Apple Music: their playlist "Guest List: Daddy Yankee" turned up some good stuff along those lines when I was looking a while back. Because it's all collaborations with other people, it's got more of a mix of reggaeton and other stuff. (It also has a fantastic remix of Camila Cabello's "Havana").
posted by moss at 9:27 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Seems like only a few years ago since it was news that Gangnam Style broke one billion. Six billion really seems extreme - did Youtube change their view count methods, or did the number of users increase dramatically in the last seven years?
posted by ymgve at 4:08 AM on April 3


They introduced the autoplay feature, which funnels a huge amount of viewers to a small amount of content.
posted by dng at 4:24 AM on April 3 [3 favorites]


Autoplay has an off switch. I don't know why more people don't flip it to off.
posted by hippybear at 7:23 AM on April 4


I turn off Autoplay on all apps. There's nothing I hate more than Netflix trying to get me to watch another episode of a series.
posted by octothorpe at 7:32 AM on April 4


Autoplay has an off switch. I don't know why more people don't flip it to off.

Youtube is my background music at work. 90% of the time autoplay gives me something adequate that I don't mind hearing. The rest of the time I go switch it to something else.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:59 AM on April 4


The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Despacito


Oh, wait, I think maybe I have heard "Depacito." It's the Shrek song, right?

"Despaciiiito, Despaciiiiito..."
posted by straight at 2:27 PM on April 5


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