Part seven of the Eurovision series! I can’t believe that in about month’s time, this amazing competition will happen! This post will feature artists and songs from these three countries three countries: Ireland, Moldova, and Switzerland.
If you haven’t check it out already, please check out Part I , Part II , Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI of the series. Those three blog posts feature songs from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Montenegro, Belarus, Cyprus, Finland, Serbia, Poland, Slovenia, Australia, Belgium, Estonia, and Iceland, Georgia, Portugal, Greece, San Marino, and Armenia.
(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””. 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”.
“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…
I am serious slacking on this blog! I am sorry for this! Winter always has me falling asleep beside my heater earlier than I expected. I want to make it up to my readers by posting an upbeat song from the Mexican band Kabah who might chase the winter blues away. Kabah was formed in 1992 with six members: Maria José Loyola, René Ortiz Martinez, Federica Quijano Tapia, André Quijano Tapia, Daniela Magun and Sergio Ortiz O’Farril. They didn’t have much luck in the beginning as they were unsure about their musical style and had many unfortunate events that ended with crowds booing them off stage. However, luck changed in 1994 when they entered and won the talent show “Valores Juveniles”. They released their album, entitled “Kabah”, soon after. Although only containing four tracks, the album was popular among the younger listeners. Their second album “La Calle de las Sirenas”, is their most popular album to date as it sold over 2.5 million copies all over the world.
The group sadly broke up in 2005 after releasing the acoustic greatest hits album “El Pop”. Some of the members went onto pursue solo careers in the entertainment industry. Maria José Loyola, or simply known as Josa, has released four albums, opened for Gwen Stefani’s “Sweet Escape” tour, and appeared on various shows. Federica Quijano Tapia went on to do some acting and modeling gigs, appearing in various media like “Penthouse” and “KIU”. Daniela Magun is a TV talk host while Sergio Ortiz O’Farril created his own solo project, named “Moroccoblu”. Though the members have went their separate ways, the members decided to reunite Kabah last year and are planning to do a tour this year.
“Vivir Por Mi” comes from the band’s fifth studio album “La Vida Que Va”. This album is said to feature “a lighter sound”. However, I don’t really hear that with “Viviri Por Mi”, which is an upbeat, feel good song about life and growing up for yourself. Maybe it’s the beginning as the song starts out off with a mediocre pace. However, thanks partially to a key change, the song picks up steam as if it’s a dance song. What else is nice about the song is that the male members take lead vocals, which is really good for their range. My only wish is to understand what they are chanting in the beginning with the cool synthesized opening. My Spanish is really poor after years of neglecting to study it.
If you are feeling down anytime, have the dance-y, positive “Vivir Por Mi” playing to cheer you up and remember you that you only live for yourself, don’t try to live for anyone else.
I’m sorry if this feels like “90’s week” on ai love music. I didn’t mean for this to happen, I swear! I promise that I’ll write something that is a little more “up-to-date” tomorrow. But for today, let’s enjoy the mysterious melodies of Wanda. I don’t know much about Wanda since I began listening to them a few months ago. However, what I know is that they were a Mexican girl group with four members: Gaby, Karla, Daniela, Grisell and Dany. They formed around 1998 and had two hits, “Serás Tú” and “Cartas de Chica Misteriosa”. According to the blog poprush, the group just faded away a short time after their debut album release due to a lack of success as other (and more popular) girl groups premiered at the same time (Hey, that happened in the US and the UK with all those boybands!).
Growing up, I really didn’t listen to a lot of Latin Pop artists, If I did, most of what I listened to was stuff that was really popular on the radio and it wasn’t much. So,when I first listened to Wanda’s debut album “Cartas de Chica Misteriosa”, the experience was magical. Maybe because it was my first time listening to something from Mexico. Or maybe I was excited to hear what was pop music in Mexico like back “in the day”. Whatever the reason was, it was a pretty good reason because Cartas de Chica Misteriosa” is an exquisite album with many great songs, especially with “Sofia”. Like Troop’s “Spread my Wings”, “Sofia” has that special kind of charm from its soothing instrumentation and easy listening feel. However, I think the song’s real beauty comes from the vocals itself. The best part of the song lies in the pre-chorus and the ending with those gorgeous backing vocals.
By the way, if you have more information about the groups or artists I mentioned, have any requests, or recommendation (I always love “new” finds), please feel free to comment.