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Justin Bieber participated in helping Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee get to the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 chart with a remix of their song "Despacito," the first mostly Spanish-language song to do so since Los Del Rio's "Macarena" from 1997. However, don't think it means Bieber has a firm understanding of Spanish--or any of the song's lyrics for that matter. It turns out he doesn't know the words at all.
The 23-year-old pop singer recently told his concert's audience he would not be singing the song "Despacito" because he did not know the lyrics, despite having provided vocals for the fan-favorite remix. According to Billboard, Bieber ducked out of singing the song but then suddenly had to also duck down for safety because one angry fan showed displeasure by chucking a water bottle straight at the singer's head. Bieber responded thoughtfully enough, saying,
Don't throw things at me, please.
No, Justin Bieber's decision not to sing the song did not warrant someone throwing a water bottle at his head at the Stockholm's Summerburst Festival. Still, it might have been better if Justin Bieber had, you know, learned the lyrics to the song. After all, he has been pretty brazen about his ignorance regarding the lyrics of "Despacito." In May, Bieber tried the "fake it until you make it" approach, and added a bunch of "blah blah blahs" to the song. Then, at that performance, Bieber told the audience,
I don't know the words so I say 'Dorito' and 'I ate the burrito, I just want a burrito.'
Justin Bieber's lack of professionalism did not impress the critics, many of whom had already wondered whether his participation on the song was an authentic indication of the cultural exchange and mutual respect Luis Fonsi tried to promote when the song first hit the airwaves. Some critics said Bieber was trying to poke fun at the whole of Spanish culture. Plus, his dismissive attitude annoyed many people and clearly caused at least one of those people to throw a water bottle at his head.
To be fair, Justin Bieber is from Canada, where the two official languages are English and French. So, perhaps readers in the United States, where Spanish is the second most-spoken language after English, should cut him some slack. According to the 2015 American Community Survey, the United States has 237 million English speakers and 40 million Spanish speakers. In Canada, there are plenty of bilingual speakers fluent in both English and French, but far fewer Spanish speakers.
Moreover, Luis Fonsi stuck up for Justin Bieber and told Rolling Stone,
That chorus is not easy to sing, even for fluent Spanish singers like myself. It's got a lot of lyrics, it's kind of tongue-twisty... I've done songs in other languages. I know how hard it is.
Still, it seems like it might be a good idea for Justin Bieber to take an hour out of his day, sit down with the lyrics, and learn them. At least then he might avoid future projectile water bottles.