It was acknowledged earlier today that the constantly playing ‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee & Justin Bieber has set a massive record by becoming the most streamed single of all time. Pretty impressive right? Well, I don’t know. I mean it feels like only weeks ago that news broke of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ achieving the exact same accolade. With the audio streaming chart only becoming a thing back in mid 2012, of course anyone is in the running for taking over as the most streamed of all time, especially in a world run by social media and name dropping. If you hype your single enough then when it becomes available to stream, at next to no cost, then of course the masses are going to go and download it. Then they can have the coolest new hit on their phone, and play it on the back of the bus for everybody’s pleasure. If you add enough names and involve enough artists then you’re covering a much wider base and therefore casting your net a lot further when it comes to appealing to music fans or fans of particular artists. We see it everyday now, I mean how many tracks get towards the top of the charts now that don’t at some point feature Justin Bieber, Rhianna, Ed Sheeran, Pharell Williams or even our mate DJ ‘I still don’t know what you do’ Khaled (see our review of ‘Wild Thoughts’ for more on that) and it seems a little bit superficial and transparent when you stand back and take a look at what’s really going on. For example, if a complete unknown, not that I’ve got any idea who Daddy Yankee I anyway, released a brand new track tomorrow, no matter how poor it was, or how little substance it held, if it featured Frank Ocean, Little Yachty, Jay-Z, Beyoncé and the Chuckle Brothers, it’d probably do rather well.
The point being that, does this mean anything, does the streaming service represent good music? We’ve spoke before about how it’s affected the Official UK chart but at least that holds a bit of credibility as it encapsulated the physical purchase to. Music that people have gone out of their way to hold and take home, they’ve paid good money for the long awaited return of their favourite artist. Streaming seems to be a rough translation for “Here’s this weeks most overplayed and over exposed on social media track of the week”. Now sure, there’s no reason for Luis Fonsi and the gang to take pride in this accomplishment, because it is, by all means, an accomplishment, and whenever your work is recognised as achieving something it’ll be worth celebrating. But let’s have a look at some past audio streaming number ones… It’s mad enough that Mariah Carey, or lazy Mariah as we call her now, reached number five in the Official UK charts at the beginning of this year, but what’s insane is that she topped the audio streaming chart. Number one! After first charting in 1994 as well. Now sure, it was just after Christmas and she did have that terrible New years eve performance, but to hit the top of this prestigious new chart, may just say it all, when you’ve paid your subscription to whatever streaming service you subscribe to, everything is just a click away and it’s why fads and gimmicks like ‘Gangnam Style’ have reached the top of the charts. In fact, despite enjoying it’s brilliant pop music sound, Carly Rae Jepsen held the first ever Audio streaming number one. That’ll never change, that’s in the history books, and will always be that way. When artists like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Jeff Buckley, Led Zepplin, The Rolling Stones and countless other innovative, genius, bands and artists paved the way for music, the success is now being enjoyed by Psy, Carly Rae Jepsen, Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran and our mate DJ Khaled. Does it mean anything, well, that’s up to you isn’t it.
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)