We’re coming on the 25th anniversary of losing beloved Latin music icon Selena. Her life was tragically cut short on March 31, 1995, but thanks to her incredible output of music, the Tex-Mex queen’s legacy has lived on.
Selena was one of the first artists to extend Latin music’s reach beyond the Spanish-speaking audience. Her momentum started building with 1990’s Ven Conmigo album. 1992’s Entre Mi Mundo was a true breakthrough thanks to the colorful hit “Como La Flor.” The last album released in her lifetime, 1994’s Amor Prohibido, solidified Selena’s reign with smash after smash. She took on classism with the title track, an ode to star-crossed lovers and had hearts everywhere a-pounding with “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.”
Sadly, Selena’s career didn’t reach stratospheric levels until after her murder made headlines around the globe. Her uncompleted crossover album, 1995’s Dreaming of You, was meant to be her introduction to the Anglo market. Selena’s family rounded out the haunting ballads like the title track and “I Could Fall in Love” with new and previously-released material to see her last wish through. Dreaming of You remains the only Latin album by a Latinx act to debut atop and reach No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart.
Although Selena is most remembered for her aforementioned albums, she almost spent the entirety of her life working towards her music career. Before her major label debut, Selena released a number of albums throughout the ’80s with her family band as Selena y Los Dinos. To shake up your Selena playlists, here are 10 of the Grammy-winning singer’s best deep cuts and lesser known singles to highlight the hidden treasures in her discography.
"La Bamba" (1987)
In honor of taking home the Tejano Music Award for Best Female Vocalist in 1987, that year Selena y Los Dinos also released an album fittingly titled And the Winner is… Selena was 15-years-old when she recorded her cover of “La Bamba,” the hit that was popularized by Mexican-American icon Ritchie Valens. She turned the once traditional song into a ’80s dance track with electronic and tropical beats.
For her 1988 album Dulce Amor, Selena covered the classic “Costumbres” that was popularized by Spanish singer Rocío Dúrcal and written by Mexican legend Juan Gabriel. In her career, she also covered Gabriel’s “Diferentes” and “Yo Lo Se Que Tú Te Vas.” Selena’s version maintains the song’s sweeping production with a conjunto edge. Like Dúrcal before her, Selena struck the right emotional chords.
One of the most surprising covers in Selena’s discography is her take on Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto’s “Sukiyaki.” She recorded his groundbreaking hit that was one of the first non-English singles to top Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart for her 1989 self-titled album. The lyrics were translated into Spanish while maintaining that traditional Japanese sound. Two cultures beautifully collided with Selena at the helm.
"Tus Desprecios" (1994)
A song that is often forgotten on the setlist of Selena’s famed February 1995 concert at the Houston Astrodome is “Tus Desprecios.” With the signature hits she performed that night, it was easy for the Amor Prohibido standout to get lost in the shuffle. The Tejana singer embraced her Mexican roots on this heated conjunto where she vented her frustrations with a relationship that was on the rocks.
"Ya No" (1994)
Another knockout on Selena’s Amor Prohido album is “Ya No.” Backed by amped-up guitars, Selena tackled Latin rock with a performance that was just as electrifying. After getting played, she let a cheating lover know that his days with her were numbered. In 2010, Mexican singer and ex-RBD member Dulce María popularized Selena’s kiss-off anthem but lacked her empowered punch.
"I'm Getting Used to You" (1995)
Before her murder, Selena was working with various pop hitmakers for Dreaming of You. Fortunately, she was able to complete her recording of “I’m Getting Used to You” by Diane Warren, who has penned songs for queens like Celine Dion, Cher, Toni Braxton and Lady Gaga. Horns and Latin beats backed Selena slipping under her lover’s spell. She was feeling some type of way and got that across flawlessly.
"God's Child (Baila Conmigo)" (1995)
A lesser known Spanglish track on Selena’s Dreaming of You album is “God’s Child (Baila Conmigo)” that she wrote with Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. He also produced the song, blending rock and flamenco music. It’s one of the most experimental moments in Selena’s discography where she and Byrne invited people to join their dance revolution. Spanish superstar Rosalía could cover this one.
"A Boy Like That" (1996)
A new version of the Broadway musical West Side Story is returning to the big screen in December 2020. One of Selena’s last recordings was a cover of “A Boy Like That” for a 1996 charity album. She took on the song that was performed by Puerto Rican EGOT Rita Moreno’s Anita character in the 1961 film. Selena’s version put a new jack swing twist on “A Boy Like That” with her added sensual touch.
"Dame Tu Amor" (1998)
For the 1986 album Alpha, Selena recorded the Latin pop ballad “Dame Tu Amor.” On 1998’s Anthology compilation album, the sweet love song was remixed with ranchera music. The band that was added to “Dame Tu Amor” gave the track a fuller sound and accentuated a young Selena’s passionate performance. Her undying determination to keep romance alive lives on through this soaring stunner.
"Fotos y Recuerdos" (2012)
Selena’s Spanish-language take on the Pretenders’ “Back on the Chain Gang” was first released on Amor Prohibido. In 2012, her family dropped the remix album Enamorada de Ti featuring digital duets with artists like pop star Selena Gomez, who was named after Selena. “Fotos y Recuerdos” was remixed with Puerto Rico’s Don Omar and the Dominican Republic’s Natti Natasha. Selena in reggaetón was a revelation.