Selena Quintanilla Wikimedia Commons

The historic album "Amor Prohibido" marked a significant moment in Selena Quintanilla's career. Released on March 13, 1994, by EMI Latin, this album came at a time when she had already established a solid fan base through her previous work. The aim with "Amor Prohibido" was to expand her appeal even further.

Facing the challenge of matching the success of her hit song "Como la Flor," A.B. Quintanilla sought the help of Ricky Vela and Pete Astudillo in composing the songs for his sister's fourth studio album. The result was a 10 song historical masterpiece, with hits like "Amor Prohibido," the song that inspired the title, "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom," "No Me Queda Más," "Techno Cumbia," "Si Una Vez," and more.

The album is noted for its more complex sound, incorporating elements of experimental music and blending various genres such as Tejano, Mexican cumbia, and dance-pop. The lyrics of the album touch on themes like unrequited love, infidelity, and social division, and Selena delivered them with passion and vulnerability.

Selena Quinanilla Amor Prohibido album
Latin Times/Courtesy EMI

A time of transition

"Amor Prohibido" was born out of a period of great expectation and artistic exploration for Selena and her band Los Dinos. Following the success of her third studio album, "Entre a Mi Mundo," with hits like "Como la Flor," and the launch of her clothing boutique in 1993, there was significant pressure to produce another hit.

Selena's brother, A.B. Quintanilla, who knew Selena's musical tastes and vocal range intimately, played a crucial role in its production. Despite the label's initial inclination to use a Grammy Award-winning producer instead of A.B., he rose to the challenge. His understanding of Selena's style and the need for fresh music led to a collaboration with band members Pete Astudillo and Ricky Vela, resulting in a mature sound that experimented beyond Selena's previous works.

The tracklist of "Amor Prohibido," which is nowadays one of the most important albums in the history of Latin music, includes several memorable songs, each contributing to the album's success and showcasing Selena's versatility as an artist:

  1. "Amor Prohibido" (A.B. Quintanilla III, Pete Astudillo)
  2. "No me queda más" (Ricky Vela)
  3. "Cobarde" (Jorge Luis Borrego)
  4. "Fotos y recuerdos" (Chrissy Hynde, Ricky Vela)
  5. "El chico del apartamento 512" (Ricky Vela, A.B. Quintanilla III)
  6. "Bidi bidi bom bom" (Selena Quintanilla, Pete Astudillo)
  7. "Techno Cumbia" (A.B. Quintanilla III, Pete Astudillo)
  8. "Tus desprecios" (A.B. Quintanilla III, Ricky Vela)
  9. "Si una vez" (A.B. Quintanilla III, Pete Astudillo)
  10. "Ya no" (A.B. Quintanilla III, Ricky Vela)

The 2002 reissued edition, commemorating 20 years of Selena's music, included additional content like "Donde quiera que estés" (featuring Barrio Boyzz), spoken liner notes by the band and family, and music videos for "Amor Prohibido" and "No me queda más."

The Making of "Amor Prohibido"

The album's recording, carried out at Manny Guerra's studio in San Antonio, Texas, spanned six months starting on September 1993, intricately fitting around Selena's busy schedule of touring and business commitments.

A.B. Quintanilla's philosophy, as expressed in a Billboard interview, was not to try to outdo a hit like "Como la Flor" but to create another distinctive hit. This approach bore fruit in the form of tracks like "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom," which became one of Selena's most beloved hits, and was cowritten by the artists herself, blending hard rock elements into a Tejano cumbia rhythm.

In the case of the focus song "Amor Prohibido," Selena explained that the lyrics were inspired by the love story of her grandmother, who worked as a cleaning lady in the house of a rich family and fell in love with one of the sons.


Selena habla sobre la historia detras del exito “Amor Prohibido”. Muchos no saben que la cancion fue escrita por la misma abuela de Selena #Selena #SelenaQuintanilla #SiempreSelena #AmorProhibido #ReinaDelTexMex

♬ original sound - ajyolo81

The lasting impact of "Amor Prohibido"

"Amor Prohibido" quickly solidified Selena's position as a pivotal figure in Tejano music. The album showcased her ability to blend various musical styles, including Latin pop, adult contemporary, dance-pop, Mexican traditions, and Tejano, with finesse. This fusion resonated deeply with a wide audience, contributing to its enduring popularity. The album not only achieved monumental commercial success but also garnered critical acclaim, cementing Selena's legacy in the music industry.

This month, Amazon Music honors the 30th anniversary of "Amor Prohibido" with a special celebration. Fans can delve into Selena's musical journey through the Rediscover Selena playlist, which includes the remastered version of "Amor Prohibido" and a tribute cover of "Si Una Vez" by Kali Uchis. The playlist, part of Amazon Music's initiative to help listeners rediscover or discover music, will feature various themes and moods encapsulating Selena's discography.

Additionally, Amazon Music produced a video featuring Mexican artists Santa Fe Klan and Danna Paola, who discuss Selena's influence on their careers. This video underscores Selena's enduring impact on artists even three decades later.

Nowadays, artists like Edén Muñoz, Christian Nodal, and Becky G. perform Selena Quintanilla's song during their concerts. Her namesake, Selena Gomez, regularly honors her legacy, and Jennifer Lopez, whose career was launched after she portrayed Selena in the biopic about her life, acknowledges her influence in Latin music and her own life.

As we reflect on the 30th anniversary of "Amor Prohibido," it's clear that Selena Quintanilla's influence transcends time and generations. Her music continues to inspire and resonate with fans old and new, a testament to her timeless artistry and the heartfelt emotions she infused into her work. Selena's legacy lives on, not just in her music but in the hearts of everyone she touched with her vibrant personality and exceptional talent

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