With the release of “Selena: the Series” on Netflix, a wave of nostalgia has hit fans of all generations and introduced the Texas singer to countless others who may not have been familiar with her music or her tragic story. The show portrays how the “Queen of Tejano Music” became an icon in Latino culture both in the United States and beyond. With Christian Serratos playing Selena Quintanilla, the series details in surprising granularity the many steps she and her family took to grow the singer’s following from local sensation to global superstar and to shape her musical identity.
Just as when the film “Selena” was released in 1997, with Jennifer Lopez portraying the artist — a defining role in her career in that it launched her successful run in movies — Selena’s most famous tracks are celebrated throughout the series with Serratos performing along to the artist’s most popular songs in her many signature outfits — yes, bustiers abound.
The singer’s death in 1995 cut short a flourishing career but Selena’s output in the years before left many tunes with which to remember her. Here are seven essential tracks by the singer (listen to a Spotify playlist of the songs here and below).
“Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”
One of Selena’s catchiest songs, 1994’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” references a beating heart with a melody that combines reggae grooves with a more traditional Mexican cumbia. Co-written by Selena, it’s one of her later-career Spanish songs and speaks to the hopeless romantic we meet in the Netflix series.
Selena’s fourth studio album was released in 1994 and included the title track as a lead single. Meaning “Forbidden Love,” the song tells the tale of a couple overcoming the societal obstacles put in front of them.
“Fotos y Recuerdos”
Released in 1995, “Fotos y Recuerdos” was a cover of the Pretenders’ 1983 hit “Back on the Chain Gang,” which is why Chrissie Hynde is credited as a co-writer. Spanish lyrics were written by Ricky Vela and the song — based on the story of a woman who kisses a photo of the man she loves nightly before going to sleep — became the second-most successful Latin single of that year and another smash from the “Amor Prohibido” album.
“Baila esta Cumbia”
Among the songs that helped establish Selena as an up-and-coming Tejano artist came from her second studio album, “Ven Conmigo,” which was released in 1990. Translating to “Dance This Cumbia,” Selena wowed with this upbeat number written by her brother A.B. Quintanilla and backup vocalist Pete Astudillo.
“Dreaming of You”
Selena’s posthumous English single is also one of her most popular recordings worldwide. Released in August, 1995 — four months after her death — the sweeping ballad aligned with the pop-R&B sound of the times and became a modest hit alongside the likes of Mariah Carey. “Dreaming of You” also titles Selena’s fifth studio album.
“Como la Flor”
The song that kicks off the Netflix series is one of Selena’s biggest crowd-pleasers. Released in 1992 (and later remixed and added to the “Dreaming of You” album) and charting on the Latin tally and regional Billboard charts, the song’s title — “Like a Flower” — and the album from which it came (“Entre a Mi Mundo” or “Enter My World”), could just as well describe the welcoming and good-natured singer herself.
“No Me Queda Mas”
Tugging on heartstrings became one of Selena’s calling cards as her career developed, and “No Me Queda Mas,” which translates to “There’s Nothing Left For Me To Do,” is a prime example. Another single from “Amor Prohibido,” its lyrics describe the pain and helplessness one feels after an emotional breakup.
Listen to all seven songs below: