Music Pop Culture

25 new releases to save you from your musical drought this summer

Summer is usually a music-lover’s dream haven. It’s when we get new album releases each week, have endless concerts to attend, and when we can gaze upon outstanding music videos from some of our favorite artists.

Take last summer for example: We were blessed with Willow Smith’s self-titled album and Megan Thee Stallion’s FEVER mixtape among many other critically acclaimed masterpieces that are still receiving praise to this day. 

But as COVID-19 disrupted just about everything in the world, the music industry’s typical release cycle wasn’t exempt. Music festivals and award shows were canceled one by one and the future of music for the year looked bleak. And as we’re already many months in, it can be confirmed that this summer during quarantine has definitely felt like a music drought at times.

Despite it all though, some artists have released new projects to keep us all dancing and singing from home. Here are 25 female musicians with recent drops that are keeping this summer alive:

1. Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas

On July 17, the Greek and Jamaican soul singer released her third self-titled album that candidly talks about growth within a failed relationship. Lianne La Havas’ sultry voice, vulnerable lyrics, and smooth jazzy tracks make for a cohesive album that’s perfect to listen to with a lit candle, facial, and tall glass of wine on those stormy summer days.

2. Hinds – The Prettiest Curse 

These four garage-rock musicians from Madrid, Spain are back and better than ever with their third album, The Prettiest Curse, released on June 5. Hinds has given us the ultimate soundtrack of the summer with their airy voices and catchy lyrics that almost anyone can relate to.

3. Aditi Ramesh – “Heal” (Single)

Mumbai, India’s Aditi Ramesh is changing the world with her soulful pipes one song at a time. Whether cooking and sharing recipes on her instagram or dropping new singles, Ramesh can not disappoint.

4. Dounia – DE-LOVE-USION

Love and the complexity of relationships aren’t new topics for Dounia, the North African activist who’s making waves in the music scene with her smooth rapping. She’s at it again in her latest two-song project titled ‘DE-LOVE-USION’ that was released on July 17 where she sings of secret crushes and falling hard in love.

5. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

In her sophomore album titled Punisher released on June 18, the indie singer and California native sings about mental health and wellness. Her deep self-awareness shines through and challenges listeners to do the same. Bridgers has made something for us to cry to and dig deep introspectively for the summer.

6. Saweetie – “Tap In” (Single)

If there was ever a movement where I missed the outside parties and barbeques of the summer, it was definitely when I first heard Saweetie’s single “Tap In” on June 20. In it, she samples Too $hort’s iconic “Blow The Whistle” song from 2006 but completely makes it her own with her famous “Icy Girl” brand. Saweetie is on the road to success with this as a tease of what’s next to come in her next album to be released sometime soon called “Pretty Bitch Music.”

7. Empress of – I’m Your Empress Of 

With her name inspired by a tarot card reading, this bilingual Honduran singer is connecting to her roots in her third album called I’m Your Empress Of that was released on April 3. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Empress Of talks about old trauma and heartbreak with background audio from her own mom included in some songs.

8. UMI – Introspection 

UMI – which is the Japanese word for ocean – has always poured her heart into her music which was exactly what the world needed this year in her latest EP called Introspection that was released on June 21. The biracial singer who plays the piano, guitar, and ukulele blessed us with stunning visuals and songs to sing all summer long.

9. Jessie Reyez – Before Love Came to Kill Us

Jessie Reyez is a stand-out star this year in her debut album called Before Love Came to Kill that was released on March 27. The Colombian singer and songwriter has soulfully light pipes that you’re sure to remember. She delicately approaches conversations about sexual assault, mental health, and love in a summer record that’s nuanced and unique.

10. Ivy Sole – Bittersweet (Single)

Ivy Sole’s latest single is luxurious, sexy, and smooth which fits in perfectly to the North Carolina artist’s sultry discography. Each track from her is layered, multifaceted, and complex which is a direct reflection of her as a queer Black woman who grew up in strict churches. Sole doesn’t fit into one box musically or personally and it’s powerful and much needed in this day-and-age.

11. Tei Shi – Die 4 Ur Love

Nothing can come keep Tei Shi down. After a tumultuous year of switching music labels and having her tour cancelled due to COVID-19, the Columbian and Argentinian artist took life into her own hands and self-released her EP called Die 4 Ur Love on July 17. Consider this project an epic breakup letter to her old music label, old self, and old life. Tei Shi is not holding back.

12. Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA

All eyes are on Rina Sawayama as she’s now finally dropped her highly anticipated debut album titled SAWAYAMA on July 2. The Japanese singer and model has given us timeless bops like ‘XS’ with a jaw-dropping music video that’s sure to be on repeat for the rest of the summer. While wearing her queer identity proudly on her sleeve, having a degree in politics from Cambridge University, and literally doing it all, Sawayama is an inspiration to us all.

13. Amber Mark – “My People” (Single)

Amber Mark is known for utilizing her platform to advocate for issues on race, mental health and gender. Her latest single called “My People” released on June 19 addresses the international civil rights discussions of 2020. As a well-traveled activist, her Jamaican roots shine through in her music for a nuanced conversation over gorgeous cultural accompaniment.

14. Teyana Taylor – Studio M and The Album

Actress, singer, dancer, choreographer, songwriter, and model Teyana Taylor gives the people not only what they want but what they need. In this crazy year, Taylor did just that with her two projects called The Album released on June 19 and Studio M released on June 30. She’s walked New York Fashion Week, starred in some of your favorite award-winning movies, and given us couple goals with her NBA player beau, Iman Shupert.

15. Beabadoobee – “Care” (Single)

Beabadoobee has embodied the teen angst that we all feel while being locked away in quarantine in her latest single titled “Care” released on July 14. The Filipina indie singer has announced her debut album which is soon to release called Fake It Flowers, and has given us all a sneak peak to it with this early 2000s and garage-rock sounding single.

16. Haim – Women in Music Pt. III

These three rockstars have yet again given the world confident and all too relatable music in their latest album titled Women in Music Pt. III that was released on June 26. The girls of Haim are blunt yet personable in this project while bearing all of the flaws that make them human and loved by fans.

17. Alina Baraz – It Was Divine

Alina Baraz has one of the silkiest and sensual voices in the game right now. Her album called It Was Devine that was released on April 24 conjures up all of those sensual feelings of the summer that are perfect for dancing in the mirror for no one else but yourself in a silk robe.

18. Ramya Pothuri – “Do You Care” (Single)

Ramya Pothuri is using her quarantine to put out one dreamy song after the next in Mumbai, India. In her recent single titled “Do You Care,” released on April 9, Pothuri lays her feelings out bluntly and spills everything that too many of us are afraid of talking about. On her instagram she tells fans to stay tuned for all the new music that she’s working to put out soon.

19. HAWA – the ONE

HAWA is probably one of my coolest music discoveries of the year. Born in Berlin to West African parents, she toured the world at age 11 as one of the youngest-ever composers for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Now she’s just released her debut album titled “the ONE” on March 5. With singles like “MY LOVE” and “GET FAMOUS,” HAWA is an up-and-coming standout artist for sure.

20. City Girls – City on Lock

The City Girls are are indestructible and will overcome just about anything that you throw in their way. These unstoppable messages that preach girl power have inspired an entire generation of go-getters and the girls’ latest album called City on Lock that was released on June 20 couldn’t have come at a better time.

21. Joy Crookes – Anyone But Me (Single) 

Joy Crookes speaks out about how music has helped with her depression over the years in a vulnerable tribute and a new single called “Anybody but Me” released on April 8. The South London raised Bengali singer has consistently put her soul into her art and has even been compared to classics like Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu.

22. Bree Runway – “Damn Daniel” (Single) and “Apeshit” (Single)

Bree Runway is breaking down every stereotype that you may have previously had about Black women in the music industry. Her sound is at times punk, and other times pop or rap, and far from the genre-classifications that we oftentimes put Black women into. This London native is giving us award-worthy concerts and visually stunning music videos all from her home as the world quarantines. In her recently released single called “Apeshit,” she even got a nod from her inspiration Missy Elliot!

23. TWICE – More & More

The nine members of the South Korean girl group who found their start on a reality survival show are showing their unique and individual personalities that the world fell in love with once again in their latest album called More & More that was released on June 1. This KPOP favorite was missed by fans and made a comeback during the perfect time in this summer quarantine to lift our spirits.

24. Chloe x Halle – Ungodly Hour

These two Atlanta sisters are all grown up in their latest album titled Ungodly Hour that was released on June 3. With a mentor like Beyonce who gave the album two thumbs up, their ballads are nothing less than genius. Chloe x Halle have also gotten wildly creative by utilizing tennis courts and their home as the backdrop for music videos and concerts on their IG Live. I know I’ll be tuning into the next one.

25. Jhene Aiko – Chilombo

Singer/songwriter Jhene Aiko knows exactly how to conjure up complex feelings that are oftentimes juxtaposed within. In her third album titled Chilombo that was originally released on March 6, Aiko’s serene voice pairs perfectly with singing bowls and vibrational sounds. She sings of sensuality, love, and spirituality in a time most needed.

Of course, Taylor Swift also surprised the world with her album folklore which we at The Tempest absolutely loved too.

And the year isn’t over. Even though it may seem like we’re living amidst a musical drought at times during this COVID-19 summer, artists like Beyonce, Brandy, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande also have upcoming projects scheduled to be released this year. Stay tuned!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Celebrities Fashion Lookbook

Marilyn Monroe and fashion as a shield

“‘Do you want to see me become her?’ I didn’t know what she meant but I just said ‘Yes’ — and then I saw it. I don’t know how to explain what she did because it was so very subtle, but she turned something on within herself that was almost like magic. And suddenly cars were slowing, and people were turning their heads and stopping to stare. They were recognizing that this was Marilyn Monroe as if she pulled off a mask or something, even though a second ago nobody noticed her. I had never seen anything like it before.” – Amy Greene, wife of Marilyn’s personal photographer Milton Greene.

The name Marilyn Monroe immediately conjures a certain image – diamonds (a girl’s best friend!), white dress billowing over a subway grate, Andy Warhol’s pop art. All visuals that have become synonymous with the blonde bombshell, actress, singer, sex symbol, and the many other roles Marilyn has come to occupy in popular culture.

Confidence is a quality often associated with icons and tastemakers. To make an impact you must be unapologetic – Rihanna, Cher, Josephine Baker, Audrey Hepburn, and even Marilyn Monroe herself join these ranks. Despite the fact that her life was cut short, the fashion statements she made – immortalised in countless photos – are memorable, timeless, and recreated often, making her one of the most recognizable fashion icons ever.   

The archives of Marilyn’s own writing, however, paint a drastically different picture of the person she was underneath the bombshell. Plagued by crippling insecurity, the fear that the mental illness that had claimed her mother would come for her next, an absent father, a childhood spent between foster homes, betrayals from those closest to her, and a teenage marriage to escape the orphanage, she was a young woman trailed by her many demons. Her writing reveals someone who was terrified of disappointing the people around her – worlds away from the breezy, disarming confidence she projected on-camera.

She writes about a dream she had where her teacher, Lee Strasberg, cuts her open ‘and there is absolutely nothing there…. devoid of every human living feeling thing — the only thing that came out was so finely cut sawdust—like out of a raggedy ann doll.’

Monroe’s debilitating insecurity and complete lack of confidence left her entirely at the mercy of external opinions from husbands and co-stars. A member of the latter group, Don Murray, highlighted this paradox when he said, “For somebody who the camera loved, she was still terrified of going before the camera and broke out in a rash all over her body.”. 

He was right about the camera loving her, there’s absolutely no trace of insecurity in Marilyn Monroe, the persona that Norma Jean referred to in the third person, and could turn into at the drop of a hat. Marilyn Monroe was a vessel for Norma Jean’s own talent, a vessel she would often critique in the third person – “She wouldn’t do this. Marilyn would say that.”.

Marilyn Monroe was as much a part of Norma Jean, as Norma Jean was a part of Marilyn. Amy Greene’s anecdote about Marilyn “becoming” the larger than life force that persists to this day attributed the Marilyn effect to an inner force from within the woman herself. It wasn’t just about the clothes she wore but how she projected herself in them that would transform her into a timeless icon.

The image of Marilyn Monroe that persists today should be more than the one-dimensional figure of tragic fame. Her magnetism on-screen is a testament to the talent and skill that she never could recognize in herself, and the work she was able to produce despite her personal troubles leaves room to imagine how much she was capable of achieving if she had more faith in herself. 

Marilyn is a reminder of the transformative effects of confidence, and how much this one quality can alter our perceptions. Norma Jean felt she needed to become Marilyn Monroe to have the impact that she did, but would she still be the icon she is today if she hadn’t projected that particular persona, or that particular shield? 

Whether you think of Marilyn Monroe dripping in diamonds, performing the opening number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in red sequins, photographed on the beach in her final days, or as a writer who revealed her true self on the page, she wasn’t just a bundle of insecurities in beautiful clothes – she possessed all of the skill, talent, and depth she never thought herself capable of. 

Monroe is a fashion icon whose influence has inexplicably grown to make her a historical figure characterised by glamour and confidence. By sticking to this narrative, we reduce her legacy by only sharing the fragments of her story that were seen on camera. Her reality is a harsh indicator of how blinding insecurity can be, and her lasting legacy is a mark of the achievements she barely acknowledged.  

It is difficult enough to simply exist, let alone occupy the status of an icon, when you are your own worst enemy – and yet, the narrative that persists of Marilyn Monroe’s time in the spotlight might be her best performance of all.

Editor's Picks Music Pop Culture Interviews

Myoa Sobamowo on quitting her day job, the music industry, and her upcoming “Beautiful Journey”

Many times in life people daydream about quitting their day job to following their dreams.

Singer/songwriter Myoa Sobamowo did just that, and taking that leap of faith has led her to places she never thought she would be before. Born the first of three siblings in Nigeria and brought up in England, she moved to the United States in 2007 and studied Accounting and Finance to follow in the footsteps of her father.

But she always had a love of making music.

“I’ve always loved singing, I wrote my first song when I was 9,” Myoa said in an exclusive interview with The Tempest. “I remember my music teacher, I would take piano lessons with him and one day I told him I had a song and he said ‘well come play it for me’, so I played it and he told me it was really good and he told me to never stop writing music and playing, and that really encouraged me that he could see that and, even though he’s in heaven somewhere, I’m always remembering that.”

Even though she got her Master’s degree and a chartered accountancy certification and got a really good job offer after graduating, she knew her heart always lay in music and she wanted to come to Hollywood to get a music education.

“It’s a big step, to fly to another country where I didn’t know anybody, no family, no friends, but I just felt I had to take it seriously, cause I started to believe in myself like ‘this is what I wanted to do’ and once I got into music school I was like ‘oh yes I’m not turning back’, so I got my degree in vocal performance production and that’s it. Been doing that properly since 2007.”

image description: a black and white picture of Myoa with only her lips showing a peach color she is wearing a white top and hugging a guitar
[image description: a black and white picture of Myoa with only her lips showing a peach color she is wearing a white top and hugging a guitar] via LAFAMOS
Initially, Myoa was thinking about going along the lines of gospel music but then realized that her type of music came more from a personal level, songs about relationships and expressionism, so she decided to stick to writing songs that are soulful and come straight from the heart.

“When I’m writing my music, it starts with me, so if you listen to most of my songs, they start with me like what I’m feeling. And I realize that most of the time the songs, they’re not meant for just women or just this age group, they’re just songs about what I’ve been through in my personal life, so I really think that anyone who is a lover of good melody and good lyrics can relate to my songs. I know it’s very broad, but it starts with me.”

Her new song “You” is the perfect example of this kind of personal expressionism, where she talks about toxic relationships in all its forms and breaking through the chain of such relationships in a way that everybody can relate to.

“And it wasn’t just about lovers because it had to do with my journey with music, it had to do with me speaking with other people about what they’ve been through in friendship, with some people’s family. You need to really figure who you are and as long as you stay in a toxic situation, it makes you go away from who you are.”

Myoa looks back on all the people who have been a source of encouragement for her throughout her musical journey, starting first and foremost with her family, who supported her even when she left a stable well-paying job and went to music school. And then people who have believed in her, from family to friends, her current boyfriend, her manager, and the team she’s working with.

“I have a really small team and those people really believe in me. For instance, like LAFAMOS, they would not do this if they do not believe in me you know, and then all the people that have been coming to my shows how can I forget them.? I remember when I first started I was only singing to 10 people, I had constant people who were always coming to my shows In Houston and even when I was in LA, they have really supported me there are some people that would come to every show when I performed.”

Myoa’s love for making music stems from more than just the need to be famous, but a desire to be heard and have her music reach people. “My love for music is I just want it to be long-lasting so it’s not even about being famous, I just want my music to reach people and let them really feel the depths of what I am feeling and influence them. I mean this is what helps me even when I am going through something it’s just my music. I feel like, if you just think ‘I want to be famous’, you’re gonna have just one-hit wonders.” 

With her album Beautiful Journey released on September 13, available across all digital media platforms worldwide and available for download here, Myoa looks to the possibility of going on tour around next year and starting work on her next album in the near future.

“I’ve been preparing for this for years, my album that’s coming out, it’s a collection of songs that I’ve had for over ten years. Imagine, it will be my very first album out, called “Beautiful Journey.” I think you’re really going to enjoy the song “Star Power.”

The advice she wants to give people is: “This is what I’ve realized, you’re never too old to do anything, resources are never too small or too big for you to get your dreams done and you can never ever depend on what people have to say you have to have something bigger than that, whether it’s your faith, whether it’s your dream, something always has to push you.”

And with that, Myoa plans to keep chasing her dreams and let nothing stop her, because “the world needs to hear and feel something different from what they’re used to.”

Music Pop Culture

Alessia Cara is reshaping cultural expectations around beauty and we’re so here for it

Recently at the Met Gala, we saw a lot of colorful looks. The stars arrived adorned in glittery outfits and with their hair styled to perfection. Their appearances sparked conversations among people around the world. Some looks were admired while others received bitter criticism.

A lot of effort went into creating all these glittery, colorful looks. If we read closely into this, it becomes clear that all these celebrities feel the need to look a certain way at events—different, beautiful, the best that they can look.

These celebrities, even if unknowingly, are enforcing impossible ideas about beauty.

But in their midst, there’s a young star, who has refused to swim along with the stream.

Her name is Alessia Cara, and she is breaking traditional norms around the concept of beauty through her music and appearance. She has dared to be herself again and again.

I heard Alessia Cara’s “Scars To Your Beautiful” at a time when my self-esteem was the lowest it had ever been. I was listening to her song on repeat—its lyrics gave me hope that I craved in my dismal life.

But there’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark
You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are

Cara’s music is edgy, youthful, powerful and inspiring. There’s defiance in her words. They urge you to be yourself even when the world wants you to be someone else.

But you and I, we’re pioneers, we make our own rules
Our own room, no bias here

The message threaded in her carefully-worded songs is loud, clear and important—she tells her listeners to never be apologetic for being themselves, to escape tradition, culture and conventions, and reinvent themselves—to be who they are.

It takes courage to extricate yourself from society’s expectations. The pressure to conform to these expectations weighs most heavily on celebrities. They are expected to look a certain way, to act a certain way, to be a certain way. Some celebrities have made certain (mostly impossible to achieve) beauty standards the norm. Audiences now expect all of them to look the same—perfect, unreal, ethereal human beings.

And you don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful

Cara has taken on the task of redefining beauty measures and promoting a healthier, more real self-image.

She hasn’t achieved this through her music alone but also through her appearances at different events.

The best example is her performance at the VMAs in 2017 where she sang “Scars To Your Beautiful”. In the beginning, she was dressed in a red gown with jewels dangling around her neck and her hair coiffed. As the song went on, the back dancers tore away the red dress, messed up her hair and took off her make up. By the end she was only wearing a plain black tank top and black jeans.

Her performance exhorted audiences to break free from the traditional measures of beauty and appearance. Her message was simple yet powerful—be who you are and not what others want you to be.

The new-age culture embodies stereotypes that especially pivot around female celebrities’ clothes. Cara is slicing these reductive stereotypes into halves by constantly dressing in clothes that are traditionally considered men’s clothes.

Cara’s music has personally been extremely important for me as it set me on the path of self-acceptance. I embraced my flaws and looked at myself differently. I realized if anyone’s opinion is important in my life, it’s my own.

It’s a well-known fact that her words have had the same effect on millions of others. But even then, she’s given much less recognition, appreciation and value than she deserves.

Her music and appearance both resonate with ordinary people. She’s real, she’s beautiful, she’s just like us. Her songs make us realize that everyone’s beautiful in their own way. And that we don’t have to change for the world. After all, we’re stars and we’re beautiful.

Music Pop Culture Interviews

Birch speaks out on female empowerment

Brooklyn-based pop artist Birch is no stranger to sexist behavior. In her new single, “Spelling Lessons,” she writes about her first memory of sexism with a school librarian who chastised her for “distracting” the boys with her outfit. Recently, she sat down with The Tempest to talk about female empowerment and the importance of speaking out.

The Tempest: You’ve been described as a “voice for female empowerment.” What does the term “female empowerment” mean to you?

Birch: To me, female empowerment is about helping women step up in the world and overcome the adversity we’ve faced throughout history. We’ve come a long way in the past 100 years, but we still aren’t at a state of complete equality. The laws may have changed, but many people’s mindsets have not. Until we reach true equality, we need to keep empowering women and educating men.

Your album was inspired by the 2016 presidential elections. How has writing music about your experience as a woman right now helped you deal with your emotions around the current political environment?

I started writing this album in 2017, just as Trump took office, as a way to cope with the devastation that I, and so many others, was feeling. Writing this album has been like doing a deep dive into the aggressions and micro-aggressions that I have faced as a woman in my lifetime. It also drove me to look back into my family history and a history of domestic violence that my great grandmother faced.

You’ve talked about how the song “Spelling Lessons” was inspired by an experience where a school librarian chastised you for your clothing, and that this was “the first time I was taught that girls exist FOR boys, not WITH boys.” Do you have any advice for young women on how to fight or speak out about these kinds of sexist messages we receive?

Honestly, I’m still learning how to speak out too. It’s hard because we’ve been taught that things like this are “not a big deal” and brainwashed into believing it. Nobody wants to step up and be seen as “dramatic” or “overemotional”. But unless we step up and talk about what makes us uncomfortable, nothing is going to change. My advice to young women is to surround yourself with other young women who will support you and bolster you up. The days of female competition are over; it’s time for female solidarity.

Since you’ve started using your music and platform to talk about feminist issues, what kind of a reaction have you felt from your audience and from the music industry?

I’ve received nothing but positive reactions from my audience, especially women – because we’ve all been through some form of the experience I wrote about in “Spelling Lessons.” I love getting messages from people saying things like, “OMG this happened to me too, I was so mad about it, but didn’t know what to say because it’s just how things were”. It feels like we’re finally in a time where we’re all having the same light bulb moment, the same realization that the way we’ve been treated has not been ok.

Besides speaking out through your music, what kind of actions do you take on a daily basis to speak out about or fight sexism like the kind you experienced in that moment? Do you have any advice or thoughts for other folks looking to do the same?

I advocate for and support organizations that are fighting for women, such as Planned Parenthood and use my social media platforms (@birchmusicnyc) to speak out. I’ve also been doing a deep dive into what it means to be white and feminist, and the responsibility I have to fight for the rights of black and indigenous women as well as, if not more than, my own. I’ve been following the work of activists like Rachel Cargle and Layla Saad (she has a fantastic program called ‘Me and White Supremacy’ – go check it out) and doing the mental work to dismantle “white feminism” within myself and my community.

My advice to others looking to speak out about feminist issues is to learn from people who don’t look like you and help raise up other women by helping them share their work with the world. Speak up about what you believe in, use your social media platforms (people are going to unfollow you, but you’ll be fine) and engage with people in your community.

Birch’s new album, will be released on April 5th. Her new single, “Spelling Lessons” is out now and you can can follow her on social media @birchmusicnyc. 

This article was edited for length and clarity.

Music Pop Culture

No, Justin Bieber, your made-up lyrics to “Despacito” didn’t make anyone laugh

Before Justin Bieber remixed “Despacito,” a song by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, it was already a hit in the Latin-speaking communities around the world. And after Justin remixed the song and was featured on the track; it became an international sensation.

Luis Fonsi said in an interview that Justin wanted to be a part of the song when he heard it at a club while he was touring Latin America. Apparently, Justin saw the crowd’s reaction to the song and immediately wanted to be a part of it. This shows that Justin recognized how good the song was and being featured on it would mean a gain for him; both monetary and in popularity among the Latin-speaking community.

Justin recorded his verses for “Despacito” for no other reason than personal gain.

Justin Bieber is a young white man who is notorious for his antics, not really caring about the consequences. And as a privileged white man, he has always gotten away with them, with little to no consequences. Thus it is no surprise that Justin confidently called Luis up and informed him of his wish to record his own verses for the song.

Justin used his position as an international superstar to his advantage. He knew his name being added to the song would bring “Despacito” into the mainstream limelight and what Latin artist could say no to that? Considering the last Spanish single to reach that kind of popularity was back in 1996 when Macarena by Los Del Rio was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Justin evidently insisted on singing the chorus in Spanish as well as his verse in English. This was a genius move; winning him hearts of Latin speakers everywhere and possibly making his fan base even wider.

This is a clear case of cultural and language appropriation. Justin used the Spanish language where it served to benefit him. He knew that being featured on a hit song such as “Despacito” would mean that he would gain both monetarily and in terms of fame in the Latin community but that was as far as his interest in Spanish went. He could not be bothered with the language beyond where it benefited him.

Justin used the Spanish language where it served to benefit him. He knew that being featured on a hit song such as “Despacito” would mean that he would gain both monetarily and in terms of fame in the Latin community but that was as far as his interest in Spanish went. He could not be bothered with the language beyond where it benefited him.

The issue came later when Justin sang the song at a club. He apparently did not remember a single Spanish lyric to the song but sung it nonetheless. He substituted the Spanish chorus with words which he apparently thought sounded Spanish which included “Dorito,” “Burrito” and “Poquito.”

Luis himself defended Justin, saying the Spanish lyrics were incredibly tough and even native speakers of the language would face difficulties singing them. But that does not change the fact that what Justin did was not only disrespectful but incredibly hurtful to native Spanish speakers.

Justin trivialized the Spanish language; he sang nonsensical lyrics to a song he originally sang in Spanish. It is understandable that he would not remember the lyrics since he does not speak Spanish. However, this does not mean he can make up whatever nonsense lyrics he wants to the song, using words which he thinks sound Spanish.  Instead, he just used lyrics that are stereotypical ones people use in conjunction with the Latin culture. Justin might have thought he was being funny but he just came across as plain disrespectful.

Justin might have thought he was being funny, but he just came across as plain disrespectful.

Justin Bieber sang the Spanish chorus on “Despacito” of his own volition. Later, he made fun of the song by singing the Spanish lyrics wrong on purpose, which was not only insensitive but also disrespectful. How hard is it to just say you don’t know the lyrics?

It is no secret that white men are incredibly privileged, but white male celebrities are even more so. Letting them get away with casually appropriating cultures and languages need to stop. We need to call out artists when their actions are disrespectful or hurtful to a certain community.

There have been people defending Justin’s actions saying he was only having fun and meant no harm. However, his performance clearly ridiculed the Spanish language and hurt thousands of people. If it was indeed a joke, then Justin needs to publicly accept that his humor was tasteless and apologize.

While Justin has now refused to perform “Despacito” live, he has still not apologized for his actions at the club. Thousands of native Latin speakers have been hurt by Justin’s actions yet he still refuses to own up to it and apologize for his behavior.