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Selena Lives…and lives and lives (Rare Concert Footage)

One nonobvious fact about me is that I am a gigantic fan of Selena, the Tejano singer born in Corpus Christi who was killed by her fan club manager at the early age.  News of the murder came to me just days after I learned after I would go to Albania for the Peace Corps.   As luck would have it, her last concert was at the Astrodome a few weeks before that, and I had seriously considered going to the rodeo just to see Selena. (The Astrodome concert is now on DVD).  I was somewhat familiar with Selena at the time and since that time have scoured the Net for more information about her. For non-fans, the place to start is the wonderful and respectful biopic, Selena by Gregory Nava starring Jennifer Lopez. Lopez has lots of similarities in personality and appearance to Selena, and pretty much making this film launched her career (even though in the movie itself Jennifer Lopez lip-synced all the songs; the voice in the movie was Selena herself).

One frequently overlooked fact about Selena is that her brother A.B. Quintanilla III was a great song writer and so were Pete Astudillo and Ricky Vela. Also, Chris Perez is an extraordinarily talented rock guitarist (here’s a great audio track by Chris Perez which is called For Selena).  I saw him perform solo at a Houston International Festival concert on the Latino stage. I thought he was going to lurk under the shadows of Selena fame, but he didn’t mention her name once or perform any of her songs. His music was a  fusion of Latino and hard rock.

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Selena stuff. (This is pretty amazing)

Apparently unbeknownst to me  in 2007 there was a Selena Vive concert which invited many Latino luminaries to sing versions of her songs. This concert was in Houston. If I had heard of it, I would have certainly done anything and everything to go to it. But I did not and will always regret it. (Apparently the concert was the highest rated TV event on the Spanish language history, but registered not a blip in mainstream coverage).   Both the CD and DVD contain only excerpts and incompetent ones at that. Still, after looking at the clips on Youtube, I have to conclude that most of the performances  were unremarkable and even bad. Thalia/Gloria Estefan and others just didn’t capture the songs they sang. (Perhaps this is a testament to how diverse and eclectic Selena could be that she could fuse all these styles effortlessly).  The CD is not much better, I’m afraid. Some highlights:

  • Alicia Villarreal sang an incredible cover of Si Una Vez (which compares favorably to the original Selena song).
  • Bidi bidi bom bom as performed by Alejandra Guzman had a saucy  Latin  flavor. One reviewer described the performance as though it were being sung by a stripper. i partially agree, but at least she had fun with it.
  • Here’s an oddly appropriate rap version of La Carcacha as performed by Ana Barbara. Paulino Rubio  tried to do something similar with Fotos y Recuerdos which was nothing special.
  • Kumbia Kings (starring A.B. Quintilla) does a rap/sampling version of Baile Esta Cumbia and made it great.
  • La India sings a nice version of No Debes Jugar with style and a soulful take on it. What a lovely voice! What a superstar!
  • Ana Gabriel did a mariachi version of the song Tu Solo Tu . Great singing, mediocre song.
  • Oddly enough, the signature song (and finale to the concert) Como La Flor was not included in the DVD. This moving (or sappy) tribute had on the screen the original Selena singing the song from the final  concert, while the other singers onstage and the audience sang the chorus.

Quite apart from the Selena Vive concert, Jennifer Lopez did an extremely moving rendition of one of Selena’s last songs , I could fall in love with you.  In this video the way she closes the song is absolutely ethereal. On the surface, this song sounds banal, but the melody has a lot of interesting moments: dissonant chords, dreamy pauses, tonal contrasts, plus a moment where the tempo becomes more excited and upbeat, the moment before disillusionment when passion wells up.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • adriana lara 10/27/2010, 4:30 pm

    i luv3 her very much and i hav3 a t shirt

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