Playing Another Slow Jam with Gyrl

gyrl-pasj

Over the weekend I surpassed the “2,000 items in my physical collection” mark. Can you believe it, 2,000 already! But it did took me 10 years to build it up and I have more to collect. I usually purchase stuff that I can’t find on iTunes or other media sites. I also like stuff that weren’t very popular or just one-hit wonders. And, of course, I like extended 12″ singles, which the local second-hand usually has a lot of.

A 12″ single I recently picked up was “Play Another Slow Jam” by a short-lived R&B girl group named Gyrl. This group was orginally made up of three members: Jamila (who was a dancer in Prince’s “Diamonds and Pearls” video), her sister Miyoko, and Paulette. They started off as backup dancers, under the name Innosence, for the R&B group Immature. It wasn’t until 1995 when the group made their debut with the single “Play Another Slow Jam”. The single reached #74 on the Billboard Top 100 R&B singles.

The group experienced a loss soon after the single’s release as Paulette quit the group. Jamila and Miyoko kept dancing while looking for a replacement. The girls got their wishes answered a while after after when Jeanae’ Briley and Tai-Amber Hoo joined. The now quartet released their second single, “Get Your Groove On”, in 1997. The single, which was featured in the Halle Berry movie “B*A*P*S”, was a success as it reached #30 on the R&B charts. But, the group broke up soon after.

The members went onto focus on different careers. Jenae’ Briley did some songwriting and became a cosmetologist. Tai-Amber Hoo joined Nobody’s Angel in 2001 for a brief time. Miyoko became a stylist. Paulette Maxwell appeared as a dancer on a late 90s’ UPN show “One on One” and composed for another UPN/CW show called “All of Us”. She also became the CEO of her own company, Creation Soul Productions.

However, the most successful member was Jamila, who now goes by the name Mila J. She has appeared on various songs done by Omarion, Treyz Songz, and other artists. The latest song she appeared on was Timberland’s  “Don’t Get No Betta”, which its music video was released earlier this year. She made her debut in 2014 by releasing the EP “M.I.L.A”. She is expected to release a full LP by this summer. She recently released a song, entitled “#TBH“, from upcoming LP on Soundcloud.

 

“Play Another Slow Jam” is a mid-tempo jam that isn’t hard to follow alon. It doesn’t feature a lot of synthesized instruments, opting to a bare instrumentation in favor to feature more of the vocals. Speaking of the vocals, they are a hit or miss depending on which part you listen to. When the girls sing together, the vocals can be very strong and pleasing to listen to. The chorus features the typical 90s’ R&B girl group sound but it’s not overly annoying, it actually sounds pretty nice. However, whenever Paulette or Jamila sing their solo parts, their vocals come off as airy and weak with little or no breath support. Jamila does hav a voice that suits the song well and can control her breathing better than Paulette. Nevertheless, I am going to chalk up the weak vocals to the reason that these girls were pretty young when “Play Another Slow Jam” was released and it was their first song. The second single and the girls’ newer releases prove this as the girls learned from this song and improved their skills.

This Gyrl song isn’t anything too special; it has a basic melody, basic instrumentation, typical R&B sound, and sub-par to weak vocals. But, it’s pretty decent to listen to if you want to remember the 90’s or just want something to chill with.

Besides, doesn’t this song sound like Aaliyah’s “Old School“?

A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 5]

ray earth and nge

“Yuzurenai Negai” by Naomi Tamura (from the series Magic Knight Rayearth)

Don’t let the first few seconds minutes fool you, “Yuzurenai Negai” is a force to be reckon with it’s powerful vocals and rock setting. A revolutionary piece for it’s time as female rock vocalists like Tamura, Julia Mazda, Maki Ohguro, and Hiroko Moriguchi were bringing the “girl-power rock” genre into popularity.

The song solely starts off with Tamura taking her time with the pacing and using every ounce of her energy to make her vocals so innocent. But, after the intro, the guitars start to blare and Tamura’s sweet personality turn into a hard rocker by the chorus. It’s here that the singer adds a hard edge to the song by her vibrato. It’s so edgy yet beautiful.

I have yet to watch Magical Knight Rayearth (but I will since I now discovered that Hulu has the series) however, the theme songs by Naomi Tamura are exceptional as they are powerful and full of spirit. Especially “Yuzurenai Negai”.

 


 

“Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis” by Yoko Takahashi (from the series Neon Genesis Evangelion)

Ahhh, this song. The one song that everyone sings at the karaoke box, including myself, and probably don’t know why they are singing it. Maybe because the anime is one of the most popular series out there? Maybe how the song is composed? Maybe people get inspired from the lyrics?

I just don’t know!

Whatever may the case be, this theme song from Neon Genesis Evangelion is addicting. For me, I love how the lyrics build up anticipation. Like you are part of the storyline. For example, when you sing the opening line of “Young boy, like a cruel angel’s thesis, live up to be a legend…” [1], it feels like you are the one who is calling out this “young boy” due to the narration, the slow pace, and the intensity of the caller’s emotions. Those emotions build up over time through the singer and the instrumentation. Even at the end, you feel like you have to emotionally “give it all” or the ending won’t be so dramatic.

I personally don’t like Evangelion, as I find it a tad boring for my tastebuds. But, I love to always sing “Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis” as the emotions and lyrics of the song appeal to me.

 

 


 

Previous Installments:

Part I / Part II / Part III / Part IV


References

[1] “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis.” Evangelion. Web. 24 Dec. 2015. (http://evangelion.wikia.com/wiki/A_Cruel_Angel’s_Thesis)

 

Can You Celebrate the Success of the Queen of Hip-Pop Amuro Namie 20 Years Later?

namieamuro-bodyfeelsexit

Body feels exit

Body feels excite

Koko made donna michi wo aruite

Anata to yatto tadoritsuita ka wo

Nanika miezu ni dakedo nanika wo

Mitsuketakatta yo heya ni hitorikiri

Hiza wo kakaete ugokenakutatte body feels!

– “Body Feels Exit” (1995) by Namie Amuro [1]

If you ever came across a Japanese poImage and video hosting by TinyPicp song, more than likely it was by Namie Amuro. For the past twenty-three years, Namie Amuro has become a household name as she is everywhere in Japan: CDs, magazine covers, commercials, billboards, pamphlets, and even in stores. Whether it is because of her youthful, beautiful looks or her superb vocal skills, Namie Amuro is a pop icon that will be around for a long time.

You are probably asking, “Didn’t Amuro make her musical debut in 1992? Why are you writing an article about her and her 20th anniversary now?”

It is true that Amuro did make her musical debut in 1992 when she was apart of the teenage girl group Super Monkey’s. However, it was twenty years ago today, October 25, that Amuro peeled herself away from the idol group and made a name of herself by starting her solo career off with the single “Body Feels Exit”. I am not ignoring the fact that many, including at one point her official site, have said that the singles “Taiyou no Season” and “Stop the Music” is part of Amuro’s solo discography. However, if you look at the backs of “Taiyou no Season” and “Stop the Music”, the singles are credited under the name “Amuro Namie with Super Monkey’s” as she was still part of the group until the summer of 1995. I consider “Body Feels Exit” as her true solo debut single as it features none of the remaining Super Monkey’s members as dancers (at least in the music video) or backing vocals unlike the “Amuro Namie with Super Monkey’s” ones.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
On the mist of her solo debut, Amuro Namie was already a household name in 1995 as her last two singles with Super Monkey’s became top ten singles. She also appeared in various commercials, magazines, movies, and television shows, including the extremely cute kids show “Ponkikkids“. Whenever she wasn’t donning a pink rabbit suit, Amuro would be found on music programs, attracting various viewers with her sexy, fast-paced dance moves and good sense of style. In fact, it was that sense of style that helped to boost Amuro into the top spot of Japanese pop culture by the end of 1995. Even the fashion featured on her debut single spawn a cult following as the  term “Amura” described anyone who had the combination of dyed brown hair, tan skin, and white boots.

Over the years, Amuro adapted her sound and style to keep up with the ever-changing pop culture. Slowly, Amuro shed the eurodance-sound found in her earlier works and went for a more R&B/hip-hop one, starting in 1999 with “toi et toi”. As the Japanese music industry was shifting from dance pop to R&B, mainly thanks to Utada Hikaru, Amuro struggled with the shift as “toi et toi” was branded as a failure and other singles failed to crack the top ten. Actually, the 2002 single “Wishing on the Same Star” was supposed to be her last before a hiatus that would have her go to the US for artist development.[2] However, the single was a success and Amuro was allowed to continue her career.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
It wasn’t until 2004 with the release of “Queen of Hip-Pop” that Amuro fully cement her as a R&B/hip-hop artist. As much as I hate “Want Me, Want Me“, it is a perfect example of Amuro’s hip-hop sound as it presents a backbeat (sitar) and Amuro singing the verses in a style that is similar to rapping. Other perfect examples would be the R&B-flavored dance tune “Can’t Sleep, Can’t Eat, I’m Sick” (2006) and her triple A-side single “60s 70s 80s” (2008). ‘Can’t Sleep, Can’t Eat, I’m Sick” is one of favorite Amuro songs in the past ten years as it features a slick saxophone, a hip interlude, and a catchy chorus. Amuro’s vocals are perfect for this song as they are smooth yet sassy.

Recently, Amuro has gotten back into dance music with the release of “genic” this year. However, she hasn’t forgotten her R&B roots as she fuses that sound with EDM throughout the album. A good example of this fusion would be “Fashionista“. The sultry opening is mostly R&B-flavored with a baritone saxophone and an electric organ mixed in with programmed clapping. It isn’t until the chorus that the song transforms into a EDM tune.

Whether your like the idol pop AImage and video hosting by TinyPicmuro, dance-pop Amuro, or the sultry R&B Amuro, many would agree that over the years, Amuro has had a huge impact on the Japanese pop culture thanks to her music and style. Many artists today and in the past have influenced by Amuro’s style. Even some have tried to copy her, in the case of the 90s’ ASAYAN group FBI. Whatever the case may be, Amuro has overcome many transformations over the years. And because of that, she will always shine brightly as a Japanese pop culture legend.

(As you can or cannot tell, Amuro Namie is one of my favorite singers. I first got into her when avex trax has an online streaming channel for music videos back in the early 2000s. I remember the first video of hers that I watched, it was “You’re my sunshine” (1996). She later became my role model in junior high and high school as she was a great singer, always looked so beautiful, and had a great sense of style. I was lucky enough to see her live in 2012 with her Domes tour. I was also verrrrrrrrry lucky to see her up-close as I had second row tickets. That was a dream came true!)

Check out a live performance on some TV show of “Body Feel Exit”:

And the original music video:


References

[1] “Amuro Namie – Body Feels Exit.” Kiwii Musume 26 Oct. 2005. Web. 25 Oct. 2015. {http://www.kiwi-musume.com/lyrics/amunami/sweet19blues/bodyfeelsexit.htm}

[2] “Wikipedia: Wishing on the Same Star.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Apr. 2006. Web. 25 Oct. 2015. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wishing_on_the_Same_Star)

A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 4]

slayers-gundam

“Get along” by Megumi Okui and Megumi Hayashibara (from the series “Slayers”)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I have recently started to watch Slayers thanks to one of my friends introducing it to me. It is also one of my sister’s favorite anime as she always watching one form of this 90s’ classic on her computer when I lived with her. I don’t know why I never watched this series. Maybe because it never really appeared on my list of “anime series to watch” . It could be also that I didn’t have access to it as downloading took eons on dial-up and I was too young to really buy VHS tapes or join an anime club when Slayers came out.

Nevertheless, the show is pretty brilliant with a good storyline and comedic characters. Of course, the show stopper would be the versatile Megumi Hayashibara, who plays the main character Lina Inverse. I have mentioned before how fabulous is Megumi in an earlier post with her song “Nostalgic Lover” from the anime “Uchuu no Kishi Tekkaman Blade II”.

She didn’t stop being amazing in Slayers, she got even better.

“Get along”, the opening theme for the series, is a duet between Megumi Hayashibara and another anime singer Masami Okui, who has been one of my favorites since “Rinbu Revolution”. The song starts off with a twenty second instrumentation that builds up the song’s premise. It is also used as a filler as someone usually talks about the show during these first twenty seconds in the TV series. After the introduction, Megumi comes in all tough, singing her lines in a vigor style. Then Masami comes in with another punch during the pre-chorus. Both singers come together during the chorus, never slowing down.

What makes this song amazing is the combination Megumi and Masami. These girls are perfect together as they feed and bounce off each other energies. They also blend pretty well together as they have the same vocal types and skills. With these two dexterous singers, “Get along” is a great song as it’s powerful, upbeat, and never misses a beat,


“Just Communication” by TWO-MIX (from the series “New Mobile Report Gundam Wing”)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Ahhh, Gundam Wing, how nostalgic! It feels like only yesterday that I watched the first episode of the English dub on Toonami. As an anime with one of the best English dubs out there, “Gundam Wing” caught my attention with the bad boy Heero Yuy and the peaceful blonde hair beau Quatre Winner (who has an amazing voice actor, Kirby Morrow). It is one of the best Gundam series out there with a sensible plot, a great English dub, and a diverse set of characters.

Another thing that makes Gundam Wing so memorable is the music. “Just Communication”, the series’ first opening theme, had a considerable impact on anime songs in the 90s. Minami Takayama’s soothing vocals helps to set an ambient feel to the song  Her vocals are further supported by the instrumentation as Shiina Nagano keeps it simple with a guitar, a bright piano, a dance kit, and synthesizers. Although, there is a neat addition of an electric guitar during the pre-chorus to add to the song’s sincerity. And the guitar pops up once again during the bridge’s unforgettable melody.

“Just Communication” is one of those anime song classics that you can’t get out of your head. It’s such an addictive song. However, for me, I like this song because of the lyrics and the emotions displayed. You can’t even tell that this is song about a series about big robots fighting in a galactic war with such passionate lyrics like “anata no manazashi mamoritai”. (Eng.: “I want to protect your gaze”)  But, that is what makes the song enjoyable. Moreover, the emotions displayed throughout also further this passion by setting different moods. Minami brilliantly goes back and forth from really passionate and not-to-over-the-top fierce during the chorus to calm and collective in the verses.

I strongly urge anyone who hasn’t seen Gundam Wing to do so as it is a really good series. Also, check out the soundtracks with Yasuo Uragami composing an ardent score for the show.


Past Issues:

Part I // Part II // Part III

A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music [Part 3]

fushigiyuugi-tenchimuyo

I want to first say a BIG thanks to all who read my blog posts! I just hit 1,000 viewers this weekend and I couldn’t be happier. Thanks again! ❤

I also want to say I am very sorry for the delay of the “A Blast From the Past: The Year of Anime Music”. I haven’t forgotten this series, just life got busy. I am so sorry! 😦

If you want to read, here is the links for Part 1 and Part 2.


“Tenchi Muyo!” by Sonia (from the series Tenchi Muyo!)

Along with Sailor Moon and Gundam Wing, Tenchi Muyo! is another 90s’ classic that I really enjoy. Maybe because I really like the storyline with the whole “Tenchi, you are now a prince of some other planet and you have to fight” scenario . Of course, I also love how it blends in comedy with the idea that a bunch of girls are livingwith this peculiar high school student and fighting each other for his affections.

My favorite chsonia-tenchimuyoaracter in the series is Sasami. She was the innocent one of the bunch who didn’t really have to argue or fight for Tenchi’s attention. She just did it naturally, becoming his friend through normal conversations. Even though she is tremendously cute, Sasami has a tragic past. I won’t spoil the details in this blog post. You can watch the OVA episode that explains it all at this Youtube link. Nevertheless, the character gained enough popularity to have her own spin-off show, Magical Girl Pretty Sammy/Magical Project S. Impressive, right?

What makes “Tenchi Muyo” memorable is the amount of passion the male vocalist displays throughout the song. This passion helps his vocals to be really clear, strong, and a perfect match to the synthesized dance-flavored instrumental. I never really get tired of this song because it always keeps on being invigorating and presents something new every time I listen to it.

The other reason why this song is so great is because there is a flawless English version, sung by SONIA themselves. Tenchi Muyo! was one the first anime series that had a really good English dub cast and staff that did a wonderful job in dubbing the original songs into English. Sharyn Scott’s “I’m a Pioneer” is a great example of this. Although, the English version of “Up-Walk the Galaxy” might be the direct opposite as it contains some cheesy lyrics.

If you haven’t heard “Tenchi Muyo” before, you should check out the video below. It’s an anison/anime song classic that is still lively and amazing with its vocal, how the lyrics correspond with the show’s theme, and its approach to dance music.

The b-side of the “Tenchi Muyo!” single features the song “Modern Girl”, a great cover of the Sheena Easton hit. This 90s’ update features a mix of Japanese and English lyrics, the female half of the duo (which is a rarity because the guy usually sings lead on their songs), and a mixture of cuteness and zeal, which is what SONIA is best known for. It’s a great listen!


“Itoshii Hito no Tame ni” by Akemi Sato (from the series Fushigi Yuugi)

Living on the hype of magical girls series of the ’90s, Fushigi Yuugi was one of many that redefined the genre. Most of the magical girl series at that time featured either a team of super-powered heroines and/or magical items. Fushigi Yuugi featured none of that. Instead, it has a girl who became a priestess in story who could make wishes with the help from the god Suzuku. It seems at a glance that the main heroine isn’t powerful due to her ability. But
because of the nature of this ability, she is deemed important because others, including her best friend, want to use this ability for Earth-threatening causes.

akemisato-itoshiihitonotameni

“Itoshii Hito no Tame ni” plays on the show’s mystical and ancient sentiments pretty well. The songs doesn’t show its true colors as a love song until the chorus. By that time, the song picks up speed as it goes from a slow, mysterious chant to a rock-driven, emotion-filled melody. The dramatic point comes at the end when this intensity is mixed with the arcane line “Mugen e to hirake Fushigi Yuugi”. This helps the song to go out with a bang. which might make listeners a bit surprised and confused, rather than silently fading away.

“Itoshii Hito no Tame ni” will be one of those anime songs that will always turn up on at a retro anime party or an Anime radio station as it’s a lovable classic. It isn’t one of my favorite Fushigi Yuugi songs, that goes to “STAR” and “Chijou no Seiza“. However, “Itoshii Hito no Tame ni” is a type of song that I can amicably listen on my iTunes playlist from time to time.

Bonus Round: “Tokimeki no Doukasen” by Yukari Kanno

Because this the type of song where you just wanted to go “meow” when thinking of love.

“Dance trance all in a globe”: A Celebration of a Timeless Trio

globe-1998

One of the first Japanese pop groups I ever discovered was globe. A trio that included a legendary producer, a virtual unknown, and a up-and-coming rapper and VJ. This year marks their twentieth anniversary since their debut single. Since their debut, globe has changed the Japanese pop music scene in their own way.

After TM Network performed their final live concert TMN 4001 DAYS GROOVE in the spring of 1994, keyboardist Komuro Tetsuya decided to form a three-piece band with MTV VJ and DJ Marc Panther. Komuro was one of the hottest producers in the Japanese music scene by that time. Along with being a member of the mega-popular band TM Network, he was also producing hits after hits with artists like Mizuki Arisa, TRF, Watanabe Misato, and others. His most famous single, “Itoshisa to Setsunasa to Kokoro Tsuyosa to”, a collaboration with ex-Tokyo Performance Doll member Shinohara Ryoko, was released in the summer of 1994 and sold over two million copies. With all this prestige, Komuro was looking to create another super group.

But, what should it be? With whom?

The first member, which was mentioned above, was Marc Panther. He was going to be the rapper of the group while Komuro was going to be the producer, keyboardist, composer, and backing vocals. Komuro choose the band’s genre as eurodance. Which made Marc’s role easier to understand because a lot of dance music from the West incorporated rapping into their high-energy music. Nevertheless, all they needed was a lead vocalist, which Komuro would find in one his many talent auditions. He picked a then-unknown young adult from southern Japan named Yamada Keiko.

The group made their debut on August 9th, 1995 with the song “Feel Like dance”. At first, keiko’s face was obscured during TV and public appearances as the company thought it would be a neat idea to have a “ZARD-like”, mysterious member. The first single’s music video was actually all done in CGI. (Which would have another version later on with the member’s faces.) It wasn’t until the second single, “Joy to the love”, when we first saw the members.[1]

1996 proved to be a monumental year for the group. They released the wintry break-up song, “DEPARTURES”, in January with huge success. The single was the band’s first number single to chart on the Oricon charts and it sold over two million copies. Their self-debut album was more impressive as it sold over four million copies.

By the end of the decade, globe proven to be one of the top artists in Japan with all their singles charting in the top 10, many reaching the number one position. However, the group changed during the new millennium as they steered away from eurodance and got their hands dirty by experimenting with house and trance. One the best examples to describe globe’s trance sound is the 2002 album “Lights2”, especially with the instrumental piece “TRANSCONTINENTAL WAY”.

keiko and Komuro got married following the release of “Lights2”. Also, the group’s activities slow down tremendously by 2005 as keiko started her solo career, Marc was sort of continuing his, and Komuro was heavily involved with the restart of his old band TM Network.

However, the group has also been facing setbacks since mid-2000s. One of these setbacks happened in 2008 when Komuro was arrested and sentenced for fraud. The group was supposed to released their thirty-first single, a cover of TM Network’s signature song “GET WILD”, on November 26. However, it was shelved and later placed on a best album due Komuro’s arrest.

Another setback happened in 2011 when keiko was rushed to hospital after collapsing at home. It was later discovered that she suffered from subarachnoid haemorrhage and went to rehabilitation, which she is still primarily focusing on at the moment. Two years after the tragic incident,  Marc and Komuro decided to continue the group without keiko by releasing a series of remix albums; “globe EDM Sessions” (2013), “GDM” (2014), and “Remode 1” (2015). These new albums had past favorites updated as EDM-styled songs, which I haven’t had a chance to listen to yet. Although, I have seen Marc and Komuro recently doing nightclub tours to promote “Remode 1” and their 20th anniversary. It looks like the lives were a great success judging by the pictures and messages.

i first got into globe when I was a junior high school student. Back in the early 2000s, avex trax had three main music video channels that were streamed over the net for free. I would always spend my free time watching these channels as I was just beginning to get into Jpop. The first globe song that I listened to was their 2002 trance-flavored “OVER THE RAINBOW”. What made me like the song was the mystical but yet mysterious synthesizers and keiko’s pure vocals.  However, I would become more in love with its b-side, “INSPIRED FROM RED & BLUE”, as it so emotional and powerful.

I think the emotional side of globe’s songs made me like them when I was younger. Even though I didn’t know a lot of Japanese back then, I would understand the emotional side of each song due to how keiko used her vocals. I could feel such emotions like sadness in “DEPARTURES”, frustration in “Wanna be a dreammaker”, and longing in “Wanderin’ Destiny” thanks to keiko’s efforts. And due to that, these songs helped me during the most difficult times of my life.

keiko’s techniques would also inspire me when I started voice lessons. keiko will always be one my biggest inspirations for singing because I really admire her ability to hit high notes, her marvellous tone, and the ability to put a lot of emotions in her singing. So, in honor of globe’s twentieth anniversary, I sang globe’s debut song. Now, I am no keiko, as you can recognize while listening. But, I had lots of fun singing and also rapping.

Please listen to my cover here: 

Here is the original:

“Feel like dance” isn’t my favorite globe song. I don’t think it’s even in my top five list….

…However, here is my top five list for globe songs:

5. SWEET PAIN (1995)

4. FREEDOM (1996) / Love again (1998)

3. Music Takes Me Higher (from the album “globe”; 1996)

2. INSPIRED BY RED & BLUE (2002)

1. Wanderin’ Destiny (1997; which was the theme song for the drama “Aoi Tori”, starring one of my favorite actors Toyokawa Etsushi.)


References

[1] “Globe.” Globe – Wikipedia. 24 June 2004. Web. 16 Aug. 2015.  (https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globe)

“Dreaming of You”: A Star That Keeps On Shining Brilliantly

selena-dreamingofyou

(I wanted to write this article on July 18th, the exact date when “Dreaming of You” was released. But, I caught a cold and had to hold off writing until it was gone. Sorry for the delay.)

One of the most influential musical icons of the 1990s was the Texan-born “Queen of Tejano Music” Selena. Since her debut with her band in the late 1980s, Selena was celebrated in Texas and Mexico as she made history as the first female to top the charts in a male-domineering musical genre. Sadly, it wasn’t until her death in 1995 that her legacy gained worldwide attention.

Growing up in the Washington DC metropolitan area, I didn’t really know who Selena was until the radio stations started to play songs from “Dreaming of You”. I have a fuzzy memory of how I first listened to the same-titled song. My mom always love to listen to the radio whenever she took us to places. I remember listening to the song on a hot summer day and had kept on thinking that it was simply magical. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I reconnected with the song and rest of Selena’s discography.

“Dreaming of You” is a pinnacle album as it celebrates two parts of her career. One part is from the formation of Selena y Dinos during Selena’s childhood to her winning a Grammy in 1994. This was arduous period as the band had to find their sparkle, audience, and, most importantly, voice. I remember watching the movie Selena and thinking how tough it was for Selena y Los Dinos when faced with disappointing audience numbers at performances, bias viewpoints, or failed business avenues. But, Selena never gave up as she was an innovator that solved problems instead of running away from them.

By 1989, Selena y Los Dinos scored a major record label deal with EMI Latin. This deal came into fruition after Jose Behar thought he found the next Gloria Estaban after watching Selena at the 1989 Tejano Awards. However, it also shelved her dream of recording English songs as EMI Records executives at the time thought that a “Mexican American woman could [never] have “crossover potential””[1]. Instead, she released her self-titled Spanish major debut album to the Latin music market in the fall of 1989.

Perhaps, having Selena make an English music debut in 1989 was an untimely idea. During the time when “Selena” was released, the singer was just getting popular all around Mexico and Texas. However, it probably wasn’t enough to sway the execs to see that she was ready for an English debut. Also, I wonder if the EMI execs wanted to test the waters by having her release Spanish material first. Yes, she did previously released a handful of independent records years earlier. However, now armed with a major record label that could promote her music more, it could have been a risky venture if the record label and Selena did not try out the Latin music market first.

Or, the EMI execs weren’t thinking straight back then.

Whatever the case may have been, Selena didn’t give up her dreams by working hard on any material she had a chance to work on. She was given a bit artistic freedom when creating albums with her family. One example is “Enamorada de Ti”, where she gave her listeners the first taste of her dream of being an international superstar by releasing a song that was so different from her regular genre. “Enamorada de Ti” is described as a freestyle song with hip-hop roots. The idea for the song came after her father,  Abraham Quintanilla, Jr., wanted to write a modern-day song to pursue EMI execs for a crossover deal if, according to Behar, they had a chance to see her perform. It is unknown if they actually came to see her. Nevertheless, “Enamorada de Ti” is a wonderful song that showcases Selena’s powerful potential.

During 1989 to 1994, Selena’s main musical focus was Tejano. Selena and her band made awesome songs like “La Carcacha”, “Como La Flor”, “Amor Prohibido”. “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”, and my favorite “Baila Esta Cumbia”.

I think a turning point in Selena’s career was winning a Grammy for her 1993 live album “Selena Live!”. Winning this award prove to the music execs and the world that she was ready for a crossover. It was also an indicator that she was ready to try something different. Even though Selena would never completely abandon her Tejano roots, I think she wanted to try something that was more her yet popular in the world: pop music.  And, her father began to feel the same way. He began to look for lyricists and composers who knew the music industry well and could get along with her musical direction after getting a green light by EMI Records to produce a crossover album.

After many months of carefully searching, Selena and her father found the people who they wanted to work. Leaving no time to waste, Selena recorded her first song, “If I Could Fall in Love” on December 1994. She then recorded “Dreaming of You”, which was a song that Selena handpick for the album as it represented her perfectly. She went on to record “Captive Heart”, “God’s Child (Baila Conmigo)”, “I’m Getting Used to You”, before her unfortunate death on March 31st, 1995.

Even if it is a combination of previously released and new tracks, “Dreaming of You” is a timeless, well-written album that demonstrates Selena’s talented voice. It also starts a new chapter in Selena’s life as she wanted to cross over into the international music scene while trying out a new sound. It gave us a glimpse of what future had in store for Selena’s musical experiences. I just wished it showed more of, what Mario Tarradell of The Dallas Morning News wrote, her “bubbly, effervescent personality, the chica-del-barrio charm”.[2]

“Dreaming of You” is a magical yet timeless soft pop song. One of the best parts is the chorus because it showcasesSelena;s powerful vocals. Another favorite part is the bridge, it’s so mysterious yet mystical as Selena is singing, speaking Spanish, and instrumentation’s sound is deep with a soft guitar, a conga, a drum kit, and a bass synthesizer.

“Donde Quiera Que Estes” is a sexy duet between Selena and Barrio Boyzz that I absolute love. The chemistry between Selena and the boys is dynamic, making the song oh so delicious. Plus, it’s new Jack Swing…


References:

[1]  “Dreaming of You (album).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Jan. 2006. Web. 20 July 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreaming_of_You_(album)&gt;

[2] Mario, Tarradell. “New Album Hints At What Might Have Been Selena.” The Dallas Morning News 28 July 1995. Print. <https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=uPhTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=UI0DAAAAIBAJ&pg=3757,5994881&dq=dreaming+of+you+selena&hl=en>