Artist To Listen To: Selena Quintanilla


Made by Millie Garcia

Millie Garcia, Reporter

Having Mexican immigrants as parents and growing up in the U.S., I was raised in a household where the only music that played on the CD player was from Mexican albums, not the typical English radio songs of the early 2000s. Listening to Selena Quintanilla was like a rite of passage to the every Mexican-American girl’s childhood. There is not one quinceñera that you can go to that will not play one of Selena’s songs. 21 years after her murder, Quintanilla’s legacy still lives in the hearts of many Mexican-Americans today. Her music was such a big part of my youth that I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce some of the best songs in Selena’s discography.

If you have never heard of Selena Quintanilla, I will give you a quick biography. Selena Quintanilla-Perez was born in Lake Jackson, Texas to Mexican-American parents. At the age of nine, Quintanilla and her brother and sister started a band after their father made a suggestion for them to perform at his restaurant. After six years of performing at local parties and events, Selena won an award for Female Vocalist of the Year at the Tejano Music Awards. At the age of only 15, the singer was signed to major recording label, EMI Records. In March of 1995, after writing and performing six successful albums and only a year after winning her first Grammy for best Mexican/Mexican-American Album, she was shot and killed at the age of 23 by the president of her fanclub, Yolanda Saldívar. Just months following her death, Selena’s first bilingual album “Dreaming of You,” was released and reached number one on U.S. Billboard 200 chart, becoming the first predominantly Spanish album to do so.

The first song that I will put on this list is from the album previously mentioned, Dreaming of You.

1.)Como La Flor

It’s a classic song to start off with. The song has synth keyboards leading the melody. It is more in the genre of cumbia, an originally Colombian-dominant genre until the early fifties when it made its way to Mexico and became one of the leading genre to dance to in the country. The upbeat tempo does not change the meaning of its lyrics. The lyrics compare the relationship that the singer is in as a wilted flower. All the love she gave was destroyed and it talks about never be able to love again. It is a break-up song that will have you singing your heart out after a heartbreak.


2.) Ven Conmigo

From her 1990 album under the same name Ven Conmigo. As someone with parents from northern Mexico, this one sounds very similar to the music you hear around the border of Texas and Mexico. An interesting note to add is that this song has an accordian! It is an instrument often used in the genre ranchera. This genre is one of my favorites (hence why this song is on the list) because of the common trend of using less common instruments, sousaphones and violins being a few example, as a way to let the song sound like a twist on Mariachi music. The song is only two minutes and thirty seconds long and its lyrics are short and sweet. It talks about a love that is strong and that’ll last a lifetime. It’s nice to dance to and especially if you have a dance partner!

3.) El Chico Del Apartamento 512

This song is loved by many, and rightfully so. Released on her last album before her death, Amor Prohibido, El Chico Del Apartamento 512 is one of Selena’s songs that you have to dance to. It also has a cumbia sound and has more instruments included than “Como La Flor.” This song has more Colombian cumbia sound due to its tempo, but Selena pulls it off perfectly. The song tells a story of Selena going to the apartment of her love interest and mistaking for the woman opens the door as his girlfriend when in reality, it was his sister! After asking if Selena was looking for her brother, Selena exclaims her happiness. It’s a cute song with a funny story, the perfect song to get a feel for Selena’s voice.

4.) Las Cadenas

Similar to “Ven Conmigo,” this song is also ranchera with an accordian playing throughout. Her vocals in this song sound different to most of her songs. She has a stronger voice in this one and it goes nicely with the music. Since the song has a slower pace, it allows you to listen to the lyrics. Selena talks about how grateful she is to have left the relationship that she was in, being much happier out of the relationship. She talks about being free of the chains (the title translates to “chains”) that the relationship wrapped her in. It’s a song that anyone, whether you have an ex or not, can enjoy.

Selena’s legacy continues to live in the hearts of many and it is nice to see that someone that had a similar cultural background as me made many contributions to the music industry. Representation is so important to see and while I wasn’t alive during her career, her impact has caused people like me find out about her music. I hope that you take an opportunity to listen to these songs and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making this list for you to see!