Selena Quintanilla Pérez started her career in the world of Tejano music, but she’s since become a global superstar whose music is beloved around the world.
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Largely credited as the “Queen of Tejano Music,” Selena’s voice was the focal point of the genre throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. As the lead singer of her family band, Selena y Los Dinos, she built a strong following in their native Texas. Selena later found success as a solo artist with English-language hit songs like “Dreaming of You” and “I Could Fall in Love.”
[RELATED: Meet the Writer Behind “I Could Fall in Love” by Selena]
Tragically, Selena’s career was cut short when she was shot and killed by the former manager of her fan club, Yolanda Saldívar, on March 31, 1995. She was 23. However, Selena’s beautiful voice and spirit live on in her music.
Below, we look at 10 of the best Selena songs.
1. “Como La Flor”
It’s hard to think of Selena and not have “Como La Flor” come to mind. Arguably the biggest signature hit of her career, “Como La Flor” showcases everything Selena does best. From the opening lines that immediately pull the listener in through Selena’s captivating voice to the moment the Tejano-style drums kick in, “Como La Flor” is a flawless Latin pop song and a career-defining song that still translates to audiences around the world today.
2. “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”
There are many songs that define Selena’s career, but “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” is one of the most instantly recognizable. Between its effervescent melody that seamlessly blends Tejano flavor with cumbia and reggae music alongside the singer’s bubbly voice, “Bidi Bidi” begs the listener to groove at the moment the first note hits. Co-written by Selena and her backup singer and dancer Pete Astudillo, “Bidi” topped the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart and quickly became one of Selena’s signature hits that is still beloved today.
3. “I Could Fall in Love With You”
Selena perfectly captures how her fans feel about her with the title of her first English-language single, “I Could Fall in Love With You,” a dreamy track that beautifully showcases her sweet vocals. Though it was released after her untimely death, the song massively expanded Selena’s audience, forming a deep connection with her Spanish and English-speaking fans alike, and became one of the most prominent songs of her eternal legacy.
4. “No Me Queda Mas”
The cinematic element of “No Me Queda Mas” has the effect of putting the listener instantly at ease, with Selena’s honey-like voice also grabbing one’s attention. The mariachi-meets-pop melody elevates Selena’s vocal delivery as she says goodbye to someone she loved deeply, wishing him well as they part ways. Topping the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart in 1994, “No Me Queda Mas” is another one of Selena’s signature and timeless hits.
5. “Dreaming of You”
Selena continued to expand her audience with “Dreaming of You,” the title track of her posthumously released 1995 album. This classic ’90s pop song sweetly touches on the joy of young love, while the feelings of longing and desire are captured in a way only Selena’s voice can. While interweaving her native Spanish language adds a nice touch, it’s Selena’s soaring voice that truly stands out, making it a classic not only in her repertoire but pop music at large.
6. “La Carcacha”
From the countdown at the start of “La Caracha” during her iconic performance at the Houston Astrodome, the next six minutes are a guaranteed good time. Selena’s brother and producer A. B. Quintanilla and backup singer Pete Astudillo were inspired to write the song after Quintanilla watched a woman get into a male suitor’s run-down car. The bouncy beat and Selena’s fierce vocals make this song, which translates in English to “The Jalopy,” a real winner. The musicians are on fire and Selena delivers all sorts of confident attitude in a live performance that’s as unforgettable as the song itself.
7. “Si Una Vez”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a song that shows off the strength and range of Selena’s voice better than “Si Una Vez.” The empowering lyrics find Selena going back on her word that she’d love her abusive partner forever, taking her power back by leaving the relationship for good. From start to finish, the enticing, Latin-infused melody compels the body to move while Selena’s voice demonstrates vitality, flexing the smokey and sweet flavors that make her voice so distinct.
8. “Techno Cumbia”
From the booming drums to the electronic-sounding guitars, “Techno” is as fun as they come in Selena’s catalog. With lyrics that are simply about dancing to the intoxicating beat, Selena’s lively tribute to Mexico’s tecnocumbia music will instantly make the listener start grooving upon hitting play. The song is pure fun and shows off her powerful voice, making for one of her best.
9. “El Chico Del Apartamento 512”
Despite sounding like a tongue-twister of a song, Selena delivers with “El Chico Del Apartamento 512.” This humorous story of a young woman falling in love with the boy from apartment 512—yet is heartbroken when she knocks on the door and a woman answers, assuming it’s his girlfriend—makes for a cheerful addition to Selena’s song catalog. It sounds like quintessential Selena with her memorable voice and eclectic melody that marries Colombian and South American influences with the French horn and several other instruments. The song proved it has stamina when 16 years after Selena’s death, “El Chico” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Regional Mexican Airplay in 2011.
10. “No Debes Jugar”
Selena lays down the law with “No Debes Jugar.” Here, the powerhouse singer tells a cheating lover that she’s done with his games and won’t hesitate to put you in your place. Her shining voice doesn’t detract from the curtness of how she stands her ground in the lyrics. Released as the lead single off Selena’s first live album, Live! in 1993, “No Debes Jugar” is still worthy of a listen 30 years later.
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