Malaysia bans ‘Despacito’ on state radio, TV due to lyrics

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Malaysia has banned “Despacito” on state radio and television, though it might be hard to slow the song’s record-breaking popularity.

The ban applies only to government-run radio and TV outlets, not to private stations or YouTube or the music streaming services fueling the song’s success.

Communications Minister Salleh Said Keruak said late Wednesday the song was reviewed and banned because of a public complaint that the lyrics are obscene. He urged private radio stations to censor the song themselves out of sensitivity to local culture. Salleh didn’t give further details on the complaint and couldn’t be reached Thursday.

An Islamic party Amanah has earlier denounced the song and called for it to be kept off Malaysia’s airwaves as many young children were singing the song without understanding the words.

“We respect the right to be entertained but there should be clearer guidelines so that the entertainment does not spoil people but makes them better,” party official Atriza Umar told The Star newspaper.

The Spanish-language song — its title means “slowly” — was released by Puerto Rican artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee in January. The original and a remix featuring Justin Bieber together are the most streamed track of all time with more than 4.6 billion plays across streaming platforms. The previous record was held by Bieber for his 2015 song “Sorry.”

When the record was announced earlier this week, Fonsi credited streaming for helping his music reach every corner of the planet.

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