Let’s face it, nobody liked Señorita. It was repetitive, cringey, and just a bland song all round. From my incredible Instagram poll I conducted (top research skills right here), 85% of the 30 people who participated agreed that the song was shit. If this is the case, why was it one of the biggest songs of 2019?
Well, whether you hate them or love them, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes practically owned the latter half of last year. Señorita spent 6 weeks at number 1 in the UK and replaced Billie Eilish’s hit, Bad Guy, at number 1 in the USA. The single was nominated for a Grammy and was the third biggest song of 2019. Shawn and Camila are extremely successful artists in their own right, but this was unprecedented fame and success for both of them. Although Havana skyrocketed Camila into the pop world, she hadn’t really had a hit since 2017, and Shawn was on a world tour and was keeping a relatively low profile. This song seemingly popped out of nowhere and flew straight to the top of charts across the world, so what made this happen?
In June of 2019, the two started releasing teasers for a duet and revealed the artwork and title of the track, following this the music video and single was released on the 21st of June. The music video blew up, mainly due to its sultry themes and steamy moments between Shawn and Camila. Lyrics such as “you say we’re just friends but friends don’t know the way you taste” sent the internet into a spiral, everybody was automatically obsessed with the pair and their relationship. In its first 24 hours, the music video gathered 26 million views on YouTube and was the main topic of discussion on social media.
Whether people liked the song or not, it went viral and became an overnight success.
There are 2 reasons why I believe Señorita was so successful. Firstly, the roll-out of the single was genius. It was the perfect steamy summer song and was extremely different from anything else on the charts at this time. Its competitors in the US (Sucker, Bad Guy, and Truth Hurts) were all pop bangers, whereas in the UK Lewis Capaldi’s chart-topping singles were ballads, Señorita offered a mid-tempo alternative. As well as this, Shawn’s previous single If I Can’t Have You was just starting to decline after an extremely successful run, so momentum was still surrounding Shawn’s music despite him being on tour at the time. Releasing teasers over June helped build anticipation without the public getting bored of waiting, and releasing the music video alongside the single sent people across the world into a tizzy.
Despite the rollout of the single being well managed, it was Shawn and Camila’s relationship which helped the single reach massive success. The song and video created a lot of mystery surrounding their relationship status, especially since Camila was still in a relationship at this point. Señorita almost read as a relationship announcement due to the nature of the lyrics and the video, yet they were still ‘friends’. However, 4 days after Señorita’s release it was announced that Camila had split with her boyfriend, this was perfect timing for the success of the single. People turned straight to Shawn and started supporting a romance between the two, and so the song just kept on growing in popularity. The single and romance rumours went hand in hand, it was almost as if they were promoting the single via rumours in tabloids and online.
Pictures of the two holding hands and kissing in public began surfacing 2 weeks after the release of Señorita, leading to assumptions that their relationship was a PR stunt. As quickly as the song became a hit, people started to mock their relationship and it slowly became a universal meme online. However, despite the criticism, the song was still extremely popular and stayed in the top 5 of the Billboard hot 100 charts until the middle of November. This could be due to their performances of the song at award shows such as the VMA’s in September and the American Music Awards in November, as well as Shawn, singing the song on tour.
The song started to lose momentum towards the end of the year, probably due to the song being classed as a ‘summer hit’. However, if the song had been released in May, it probably would’ve had a longer overall run on the charts. In addition to this, by this point people were bored of ‘Shawmila’. They just released the awful kissing video and Camila was in the midst of a scandal regarding her racist past, the general public was moving on from this new romance and focusing on other artists as well as the upcoming holiday season.
In my opinion, their relationship played a massive role in the success of the single. Even when the relationship was under scrutiny and breakup rumours were swirling, the single still stood firm. As well as this, I don’t think the success of Señorita had anything to do with the song, most people agree it’s a shit song, but rather people were more interested in their romance. Essentially, Shawn and Camila made a massive hit by capitalising off of their relationship and the mystery surrounding it, which is genius. Every time the public began to forget about them, they would post more cryptic tweets and Instagram posts, or do a sultry award show performance, reminding the public that they were still around and worth investing their time into. When people were listening to Señorita they were buying into Shawmila, not the song.