The confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic awakened intense feelings in Luis Fonsi that led to an emotional ballad: "Girasoles". The music video, which from its release on April 30th had more than 1.8 million views on YouTube until Thursday morning.
"Creatively the body was not asking me to do a party song, it was not asking me to do a disco dance song; it was asking me for something much deeper, with much more poetry, with more metaphors and with a clear message that one can share," the Puerto Rican singer and composer told The Associated Press in a video call from his home in Miami.
"The party is coming, the party will come, and those songs are coming, because believe me, we're going to need that too. But right now I wanted to use my words and my feelings to tell people 'we're going to be okay,' and just like the sunflowers spin with the sun I'm going to wait for you and we're going to be together," he added.
The song, whose lyrics say "I'll wait for you, I'll wait for you / And when you come back with a kiss, I'll be here," expresses the hope of seeing loved ones in person again, something shared by millions of people who are currently living the social distance.
But within the Fonsi family, it also has a special meaning. Sunflowers are the favorite flowers of his wife, Spanish model Agueda Lopez, who said her father, who died in early January, used to give them to her.
During the video call, the performer of hits such as "Despacito", "Échame la culpa" and "Calypso" had some sunflowers in the background placed by his "art team", made up of his wife.
''Girasoles'' was born without me knowing the connection my wife had (with flowers) and that she has had many people with sunflowers, said Fonsi, who composed and produced the song from a distance with Andrés Torres and Mauricio Rengifo.
The music video, which had more than 1.8 million views on YouTube since its release on April 30 through Thursday morning, shows black-and-white images of people saddened by their isolation followed by colored scenes of joyful reunions.
"'I'm not going to lie to you, I think we've all gone through moments of frustration, of depression, of not being able to have the freedom to do what our bodies ask us to do, to give my mother that hug, to be able to celebrate my birthday properly," Fonsi said.
But the artist, whose career involves constant travel around the world, has tried to focus on the positive things that have come out of this extraordinary situation, such as being able to spend more time with his children Micaela, 9, and Rocco, 4.
"I've never spent two months running around my house, it sounds strange, but it's reality," she said. "Being able to sit down to lunch and dinner with my family every day for two months in a row, even though it sounds like something pretty normal, I've never done it before. To be able to put together a Lego with my son, to do paintings with my daughter... the little details of life, on that side I'm celebrating that and that keeps me positive about everything."
Fonsi recorded the song entirely at home. The singer and the video's director, Marlon Peña, then thought about how they could best tell their story. Faced with the contingency, they resorted to some pre-recorded footage, but on seeing it seems as if they were always destined for "Girasoles"
"The quarantine has forced us to be very creative or do a lot with little," said Fonsi, who said he also likes Van Gogh's "Sunflowers," which he said he admires.
The time when "Despacito" was played at parties and discos now seems very far away, but the Puerto Rican star who won the Latin Grammy is convinced that he will be able to do more songs like that in the future, without giving up the romantic essence he has taken up in "Girasoles".
"I believe that artists, especially in the process of creation, have to think like artists and not like salesmen or record companies or managers," he said. "With 'Despacito' my body asked me to write a song like that, to make a Latin celebration, to talk about my land, to make people dance, to mix rhythms... Right now my body was asking me to grab my guitar and sing with a tear in my throat".
A bittersweet birthday
Fonsi turned 42 this Wednesday 15 April and, for the first time in his life, he spent it at home with his wife, Spanish model Águeda López, and their two children Mikaela -8 years- and Rocco -3 years-.
"It was a different birthday. Very nice, quiet", he described. But he said that although for him Monday to Friday is working season, that day "the door of the study was kept closed. I used the phone very little. Just to talk to the family," he said.
It was the family that surprised him in the afternoon with a caravan of cars full of balloons and shouts of congratulations and love. "I was very excited and it was the hardest part, because it hurt me to have my parents there in front of me and not be able to go near them and hug them," he said.
That was the most complicated part of the quarantine, "that and the part about the school activities at home," he joked.
"When I'm there I take Mika to school, I help her with her homework, but this is different. These are new methods of doing things, you have to print, you have to be a bit of a computer technician," he added.
But he says he's enjoying it, because "I've never been home this long and that's the good part of it all".