Amor Prohibido
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Amor Prohibido
Amor Prohibido
The singer is seen holding and compressing a small portion of her white shirt outwards while posing.
Studio album by Selena
Released March 13, 1994 (1994-03-13)
Recorded February 1994
Genre
Length 35:27
Language Spanish
Label EMI Latin
Producer A.B. Quintanilla
Selena chronology
17 Super Exitos
(1993)
Amor Prohibido
(1994)
12 Super Exitos
(1994)
Selena studio album chronology
Entre a Mi Mundo
(1992)
Amor Prohibido
(1994)
Dreaming of You
(1995)
Singles from Amor Prohibido
  1. "Amor Prohibido"
    Released: April 13, 1994
  2. "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom"
    Released: July 1994
  3. "No Me Queda Más"
    Released: October 1994
  4. "Fotos y Recuerdos"
    Released: January 1995

Amor Prohibido (English: Forbidden Love)[1] is the fourth studio album by American singer Selena, released on March 13, 1994, by EMI Latin. Having reached a core fan base, the label aimed to broaden her appeal with the next studio release. Finding it challenging to write a follow-up hit after "Como la Flor" (1992), Selena's brother A. B. Quintanilla enlisted band members Ricky Vela and Pete Astudillo to help with writing. The resulting album has a more mature sound featuring experimental production that blends diverse musical styles from ranchera to hip-hop music. Amor Prohibido is a Tejano cumbia album modernized with a synthesizer-rich delivery using a minimalist style that was quintessential in early 1990s Tejano music.

The album's songs deal with dysfunctional and volatile relationships; its lyrics explore unrequited love, cheating partners, and social division. Selena summed up the release as "love songs [or songs about] getting your heart broken". Amor Prohibido continued the singer's streak of number one singles on the United States Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart with the title track "Amor Prohibido"-- which became the most successful US Latin single of 1994, a feat she repeated the following year with "No Me Queda Más". Along with the latter, "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" and "Fotos y Recuerdos" also topped the US Latin chart, and together with "Si Una Vez" are regarded as Selena's signature recordings.

When the album tour broke attendance records at the Houston Astrodome and attracted a record-breaking crowd at Miami's Calle Ocho Festival, Selena became recognized as one of the biggest US Latin touring acts at that time. Amor Prohibido became the first Tejano record to peak at number one on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart, remaining in the top five for 98 consecutive weeks. The album reached number one on the Billboard Regional Mexican Albums for 97 weeks, a record it still holds. It also remains the only recording to head the Regional Mexican Albums chart in four different calendar years. Amor Prohibido received critical acclaim, and is considered to be Selena's best work and her band's "crowning achievement". The album is credited with catapulting Tejano music into mainstream success resulting in sales to listeners previously unfamiliar with the genre. Amor Prohibido was nominated for Best Mexican-American Album at the 36th Grammy Awards. It won the Tejano Music Award for Album of the Year - Orchestra and the Lo Nuestro Award for Best Regional Mexican Album.

In March 1995, Selena was murdered by her friend and former manager of her Selena Etc. boutiques. The record re-entered the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at number 29 and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Within the next three weeks, it was certified platinum, and was re-certified by the RIAA as 36× platinum (Latin), denoting 2.14 million album-equivalent units sold. Amor Prohibido is the second-highest certified Latin album in the United States trailing only her posthumous album Dreaming of You (1995), the fourth best-selling Latin album in the US, the best-selling Tejano recording of the 1990s, and remains the best-selling Tejano recording of all time. Amor Prohibido has been ranked among the most essential Latin recordings of the past 50 years by Billboard magazine. It ranked number 19 on NPR's list of the 150 greatest albums made by women, the highest-ranking album by a female Latin artist, and ninth highest-ranking recording by a woman of color.

Production and development

A gray musical instrument with various buttons used for recorded sounds
A.B. Quintanilla used an AKAI MPC60 II (older model pictured) for timing and tempo control before studio audio mixing instruments were used.[2]

Following the release of Selena's third studio album Entre a Mi Mundo and the launch of a clothing boutique in 1993,[3] the singer and her band began working on Amor Prohibido.[4] Having achieved the success and fan base that EMI Latin's president Jose Behar was seeking, he wanted Selena to release another studio album that would benefit from these "newly discovered markets".[5] The singer's brother, A.B. Quintanilla, felt it was important that the music he produced for Selena remain fresh.[4] EMI Latin had insisted on a Grammy Award-winning producer to work with Selena on the album. A.B. felt he had to outdo himself to remain her principal record producer.[6] Selena agreed that A.B. knew her musical tastes and vocal range.[7] Owing to Entre a Mi Mundos commercial success, and its career-launching single "Como la Flor",[8][9] A.B. found it challenging to produce another successful recording.[4] He met with record executives in New York City and Nashville who pressured him to come up with another successful song. He expressed to Billboard how "you don't try to outdo a hit, you just write another hit."[10] A.B. stressed that writing "a part two" to "Como la Flor" was infeasible so he enlisted Selena y Los Dinos band members Pete Astudillo and Ricky Vela to help with the album's writing process.[4] The result was a "more mature sound [for Selena]" that included experimental recording and production.[4][11] In a 1994 interview, A.B. told KMOL on his song selection saying how if he catches himself humming a tune the next day "then it's catchy" and if he doesn't, he "wouldn't use it."[7] He would use a tape recorder to hum a melody before creating a title and concept of a song.[2]

The production of Amor Prohibido lasted six months beginning on September 17, 1993.[nb 1] It was the final album with any production and songwriting assistance by Astudillo, as he parted with Los Dinos to pursue a solo career.[4] It took two weeks for the band to complete its post-production before the album was given a street date of March 13, 1994.[4] Vela noticed the band was becoming stagnant and had to rush the production because of an approaching deadline.[4] Selena's husband and guitarist Chris Pérez wrote that the constant touring demands and the opening of the boutiques depleted time spent creating Amor Prohibido, saying, "I don't even know how we managed to find time to make the next album."[14] Vela said that it was common for the band to arrange the sequencing of the entire project in their homes before going into the studio to record the songs.[4] A.B. used an AKAI MPC60 II for timing and tempo control before studio mixing instruments were used.[2]

Recording

"[A.B] left the studio trusting me to put together a solo that would work [for "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom"]. I remember thinking, "this song is going to be huge" because I felt it the way A.B. did. "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" was a woman's proud celebration of love. I wanted to create a radical guitar solo that would truly blend a hard rock sound into a Tejano cumbia, in much the same way Selena and I had grown up in traditional families to become a contemporary couple. I wanted, more than anything, to support the rich, optimistic sound of Selena's singing with my guitar. The song worked on every level, and before long, "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" took on a life of its own, becoming one of Selena's most beloved, most enduring hits."

--Chris Pérez, To Selena, with Love[14]

Amor Prohibido was recorded at record producer Manny Guerra's studio in San Antonio, Texas and was engineered by house engineer Brian "Red" Moore.[15] Pérez wrote that the singer "never complained about her mix or the sound onstage" calling this "rare" among singers.[16] He added that he never heard her say: "I don't want to do that." He said it was common for her to arrive at the studio during the album's production, "hum her part a little", telling them not to worry about her because she will "know what to do when [the band is] ready to record", and then "go off to shop at the mall."[16] Pérez said the band never "had to ask [Selena] to change something in the studio" as she "track[ed] her vocals by herself, and she would be the one who would request a second take" in order to "add little harmonies she'd create" during recording.[16] Former keyboardist of the group, Rena Dearman provided several songs she wrote to A.B., who requested some material from her.[17] A.B. favored "I'll Be Alright" and wanted Selena to record the song for Amor Prohibido, which was rejected by EMI Latin because "it didn't fit the mood of the album." for which A.B. later told her it could be included in Selena's next Tejano recording.[18] The band's production sequence remain unchanged for Amor Prohibido. Selena and the band recorded their parts in the studio after they had first perfected them during pre-production. A.B. would then arrange and mix them.[16] It took two weeks for Selena to record the album's ten tracks.[4]

One song-"Bidi Bidi Bom Bom"-was improvised during a rehearsal starting off as a song with few if any lyrics.[19] A.B. began playing a groove that enticed other band members to play their respective instruments.[20] The band's drummer, Suzette Quintanilla, said "we were goofing off" and insisted that after A.B. began playing on his guitar, Selena started singing,[20] coming up with lyrics "as ideas came to her."[21] It started off being about a cheerful fish swimming freely in the ocean, which Astudillo likened to a nursery rhyme,[22] and later turned into a recording played under a riff using a crybaby that gave off a wah-wah sound.[4] The riff, improvised by Pérez, became the basis of the song before the writing process began.[4] The track, then called "Bidi Bidi Bubbles",[22] was used during the band's concerts to prevent promoters from reducing their pay for playing for a shorter time than promised.[6] Selena performed the song at the La Feria concert in Nuevo Leon in September 1993, a day before the singer and Astudillo began "[putting] the lyrics and melody together".[12] A.B. joined as co-writer, wrote the guitar solos for Pérez, as well as the arrangements for the song,[23] and called it "kinda a little scary" finding the project the first of its kind.[4] A.B. believed the existing melody had potential and "nipped and tucked what Selena [had already done]".[22]

Pérez playing stand-up bass
Chris Pérez (pictured in 2012) took creative control on "Ya No"; adding electric guitar riffs and other musical styles into the recording.[4]

After falling in love with Suzette, and finding out about her marriage in September 1993, Vela wrote down his feelings (which he had kept private) for her.[24] The resulting song was titled "No Me Queda Más" and it was given to Selena to record for the album.[24] During recording sessions for "Techno Cumbia", A.B. encouraged Selena to rap with a New York accent similar to Rosie Perez.[2] A.B. approached Pérez and asked if he would be interested in working with Vela on "Ya No", a song he had written.[4] The band was scheduled to record the album the following day. Pérez found that his behavior was nothing out of the ordinary and worked on the song with Vela throughout the night "coming up with drum sounds and programming the pattern for it," finalizing its structure before sunrise.[4] Despite A.B.'s assistance, Pérez was dumbfounded that he was given creative control over the track. He added electric guitar riffs and complemented it with his own musical style.[4]

Selena suggested the idea of writing and recording a track based on a story about her grandparents titled "Amor Prohibido". She explained it to A.B. who began co-writing it with Astudillo and herself.[4] Astudillo originally had "Amor Prohibido" as the title of his aspirations of writing a telenovela-esque song.[22] The singer was inspired by love letters written by her grandmother who wrote about her experiences as a maid to a wealthy family and her infatuation with their son.[25] Her grandmother was forbidden to form a relationship with him because of her social class and described it as "forbidden love".[26] Astudillo explained his fears of the song's rejection from Abraham because of the lyrical content of disobeying one's' parents to pursue true love.[22] Pérez wrote that during its recording session:

[T]here was a noticeable difference between her voice on ["Amor Prohibido"] and [the songs on] Entre a Mi Mundo, especially. I can't say that it was an improvement, exactly, because I always thought that Selena's voice sounded incredible. It's just that her voice was richer and more mature than before, and her singing was more emotional and powerful as a result.[27]

While recording the song, Selena had ad-libbed "oh baby". Her brother believed that the recording would "not have been the same if she had not added the 'oh baby' part."[28]

During a New York trip, A.B. heard the Pretenders' 1983 single "Back on the Chain Gang" on the radio.[4] He was concerned about the lack of material the band had to record for the album.[4] The idea of reworking "Back on the Chain Gang" into a Spanish-language cumbia song captivated him and he asked Vela to write its translation.[4] After discovering that Selena had sampled her song, Pretenders' vocalist Chrissie Hynde prevented the band from releasing Amor Prohibido because of her copyrights and demanded a translation from Vela before she approved a rights agreement.[4] At the time of Hynde's refusal, the band had $475,000 (1994 USD) of pre-sale copies in a warehouse that included "Fotos y Recuerdos".[6] Noticing it was the shortest track on Amor Prohibido, musicologist James Perone felt that "Fotos y Recuerdos" had "stripped some of the edge off of Hynde's text but retained the basic premise of ["Back on the Chain Gang"]".[29] Perone complemented A.B.'s arrangement as "an example of [his] universal Latin approach."[29]

Composition

Amor Prohibido contains a more diverse collection of musical styles than Selena's previous work, ranging from ranchera to hip-hop music.[30][31] Music critics believe it is an album of various genres[32] accessible to both traditional and contemporary Latin music fans.[33] According to American musicologist Frank Hoffman in the Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, the album "demonstrated the band's wide range of styles."[34]Amor Prohibido dissociated Selena's "stock-in-trade contemporary Tex-Mex sound."[35] Its musical influences include salsa, funk, R&B,[36]bubblegum pop,[37]teen pop, pop ballads,[35]techno,[11] a fusion of reggae and dancehall,[38]rock, polka, conjunto,[39]flamenco, mariachi,[40]corridos,[11] and Tejano cumbia.[41] The latter genre is used heavily throughout Amor Prohibido. Author Ed Morales noticed it was a reproduction of the "cumbia sound" that Tejano band La Mafia had already established in the Tejano market,[42] though author Donald Clarke found Selena's delivery to be more of a modernized synthesizer-rich sound.[43] Musicologist Matt Doeden found the album had "a new sound" that was "designed to appeal to a wider audience."[36] Perone found the mixture of compositions on the album to be rock and dance music.[44] Overall, Amor Prohibido is a Tejano recording,[42][45] encased in an "authentically Tejano sound",[46] that fuses "cross-cultural [music]",[11] which uses a minimalist style that was quintessential in early 1990s Tejano music.[42] A.B. told Billboard how he began to "disguise [the music] with different sounds and textures" within their basic Tejano sound; "sublimity hiding [a mixture of genres] in there." to attract fans of other musical styles.[10] Selena called the recordings on Amor Prohibido as "love songs [or songs about] getting your heart broken".[2]

Songs, such as "Tus Desprecios", about dysfunctional and volatile relationships has a storyline typical of mariachi recordings.[31] It used a conjunto (small band) style, where Tejano music originated, and included a "trilling" accordion which serves as its signature base.[15] Perone wrote that the song "exhibit[s] the ease" of Selena's transition from "middle-of-the-road pop ballad to Latin dance music to [Tejano] style."[31] Another track, "No Me Queda Más" uses the identical style of ranchera songs, with the female singer agonizing over the end of a relationship.[47][48] Its lyrics explore unrequited love; where a woman wishes the best for her former lover despite her own agony.[48][49] Her "powerful" and "emotive" overdubbed vocals were found to be "low [and] sober", sung in a "desperate" and "sentimental" way.[48][49][50] According to Hispanic magazine, her vocals in the song "proves that this young vocalist has the interpretive tools of established singers twice her age."[35]

Joe Nick Patoski, an author and contributor to The New York Times, felt that "Fotos y Recuerdos" used the same melody as the Pretenders' new wave sound. He also noticed that Pérez's guitar-lead emulated the style of the Pretenders James Honeyman-Scott.[51] John LaFollette of The Monitor called "Fotos y Recuerdos" a celebration of multiculturalism which helped "[grew] her bank account" using a "marketing strategy" that he called "as American as apple pie."[52] The rock and house music[34] track features a synth-driven violin, ostinatish-percussion, and a steel drum under a cumbia beat.[29][48][53] Perone found the song to have "small hints" of music found in Jamaica, Cuba, and Trinidad and Tobago.[29] Patoski believed "Techno Cumbia" contained the "most popular rhythm [at the time] coursing through the Latin music world."[15] Patoski noted that the track "honored" it by "updating it with vocal samples, second line drumming from New Orleans, and horn charts inspired by soca from the Caribbean."[15] It included the singer rapping under a cumbia beat, the "first successful example" of a cumbia rap prototype,[35] that made use of congas, techno music, and hi-hats.[2] "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom", which also draws on music from the Caribbean, uses "richer" scoring, less-driven synthesizers, and treble-heavy arrangements than the first four songs on Amor Prohibido.[44] Infused with cumbia and reggae,[54] its onomatopoeic title suggests the sound of a heart palpitating when a person longs to be the protagonist's object of affection.[41] "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" is musically similar to "El Chico del Apartamento 512"; Perone called them recurring themes where the protagonist is "attracted to a young man".[44] The song's hook is more accessible to listeners with limited Spanish than that of "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom".[44] In the "sunny teen anthem" track "El Chico del Apartamento 512",[35] the protagonist is hit on by several men whom she has no interest in, except for the song's "boy in apartment 512". She finds enough courage to knock on his door to find it answered by a woman who asks if she is searching for her brother.[44] Perone found its lyrics to be "lighthearted" and a relief from the tracks featuring heartbreak and despair.[44]

Lyrically, the title track "Amor Prohibido", speaks of social division between a poverty-stricken female who falls in love with a man from the opposite social class.[49] Its lyrics have been analyzed by authors, musicologists, and critics, who found them relevant to issues facing the LGBT community.[55][56] They are ambiguous and have been interpreted to be about prohibited romance between same-sex couples,[56][57] a look into modern society's views of romantic relationships,[42][58] and to Romeo & Juliet.[59] A review in The Monitor felt that the lyrics portrayed the "forbidden love" between Selena and Pérez from "the ire of her overbearing father".[52] Musically, the titular song is "an emotional up-tempo ballad" which showcases the singer's "passionate side".[35] In "Cobarde", the protagonist recognizes that her lover cheated on her and notices how he is unable to face her after feeling guilty about his behavior. She repeatedly calls him a "coward".[44] Two other tracks, "Ya No" and "Si Una Vez", delve into heartaches of failed relationships with the protagonist in the former song angrily refusing to take back a cheating partner.[44]

Release and promotion

Amor Prohibido was released in the United States on March 13, 1994.[nb 2] It was released following a recording contract with EMI Latin's pop division SBK Records to crossover into mainstream American pop music in November 1993.[65] After this news reached Billboard magazine, Amor Prohibido was given a spotlight feature in its album reviews which called its release a continuation of her "torrid streak."[39] While Mark Holston of Hispanic magazine, stressed that the album's release reinforces "her reputation" as one of the leading Hispanic singers of the 1990s decade.[35] The band gave Argentine arranger Bebu Silvetti the song "No Me Queda Más" to be reworked into a pop-style track,[24] and EMI Latin's president Jose Behar asked Silvetti to "sweeten" it to boost its airplay and chart performance.[66] Silvetti completed the project by August 13, 1994, and Amor Prohibido was re-released with a red sticker indicating that it included a "new version" of the song.[67] In a Billboard interview, Behar said that "No Me Queda Más" was "internalized" without affecting the originality of its recording.[66] During the twenty-year celebration of Selena releasing music, Amor Prohibido was repackaged and was made available for physical and digital purchase on September 22, 2002.[67] The limited edition version included Selena's duet with the Barrio Boyzz on their 1994 single "Donde Quiera Que Estés", music videos for "Amor Prohibido" and "No Me Queda Más", as well as spoken liner notes containing commentary and recollections of each track provided by the singer's family, friends, and her band.[67]

After recording "Donde Quiera Que Estés", Selena went on a mini-tour with the Barrio Boyzz that enabled her to visit New York City, Argentina, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Central America, where she was not well known.[68][69] Selena performed to the sold out 10,000 seat D.C. Armory in Washington, DC with mostly Central Americans in attendance in September 1994.[70] Daniel Bueno, who organized the event, told The Washington Post in April 1995, that Central Americans dislike Tejano music and found that the singer added reggae and tropical music flavored tracks that helped her to appeal to Central Americans.[70] Nelly Carrion, a journalist for the Washington Hispanic, expressed how "people just vibrated with emotion when they saw [Selena]" and stressed how "fans at the Armory concert were so desperate to touch [the singer] that they broke the security cordon and her act had to be suspended."[70] Selena made several appearances on television and in live shows to promote Amor Prohibido. Most notably, her performance at the Houston Astrodome on February 26, 1995, has been called one of her best.[71] It was critically praised for breaking attendance records set by country music musicians Vince Gill, Reba Mcentire, and George Strait.[72][73] Her performance in the Astrodome was emulated by Jennifer Lopez in her role as the singer in the 1997 biopic about Selena.[74] The singer attended the Calle Ocho Festival in Miami, with an estimated 100,000 in attendance.[72][75] Her performance on a November 1994 episode of Sabado Gigante was ranked among the most memorable moments in the show's 53-year history.[76] Selena performed "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom", "No Me Queda Más", "El Chico del Apartamento 512", and "Si Una Vez" on the Johnny Canales Show, which was later released as part of the host's "favorite songs" on DVD.[77] Selena's performance of "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" on July 31, 1994, at Six Flags AstroWorld was the subject of a video released by the Houston Chronicle for their segment "On This Forgotten Day".[78] Ramiro Burr, of Billboard, called the singer's tour for her album a "tour de force".[79] Selena was named "one of Latin music's most successful touring acts" for her Amor Prohibido tour.[80]

Singles

Tracks released from the album continued the singer's streak of US number one singles. The title track, "Amor Prohibido", was the album's lead single released on April 13, 1994.[81] It peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart the week ending June 11 - her first as a solo artist - and remained atop the chart for nine consecutive weeks becoming the most successful US Latin single of 1994.[82][83] The song was certified 7× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) denoting sales of 420,000 digital units.[84] "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" followed in July, reaching the top of the chart in its eleventh week on October 29. It remained at number one for four consecutive weeks,[85] and was certified 9× platinum by the RIAA for sales of 540,000 digital copies.[84] "No Me Queda Más" was released in November peaking at number one for seven nonconsecutive weeks.[86] The single fared better in 1995, remaining entrenched in the top ten on the Hot Latin Songs chart for twelve consecutive weeks,[87] earning it the title of Billboard most successful US Latin single that year.[82] The track was certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA for digital sales of 240,000 units.[84] The album's final single "Fotos y Recuerdos", released in January 1995, peaked at number one following the shooting death of Selena on March 31, 1995.[88] At the time of her death, the song was at number four.[89] It peaked and remained atop the Hot Latin Songs chart for seven weeks,[90] finishing the year as the second most performed track in the US.[82] "Fotos y Recuerdos" was certified platinum by the RIAA for digital sales of 60,000 copies.[84] Although not released as singles from Amor Prohibido, "Techno Cumbia" was certified platinum by the RIAA for sales of 60,000 digital units, "El Chico del Apartamento 512" was certified double platinum for selling 120,000 copies, while "Si Una Vez" received a triple platinum certification for 180,000 copies sold.[84]

Mario Tarradell of The Dallas Morning News believes that the singles from Amor Prohibido elevated Selena to success on Latin radio whose listeners had not previously taken the singer seriously.[91] "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" was ranked number 54 on the Dallas Observers list of the Best Texas Songs of All-time.[92] It was listed as an honorable mention on Billboards top ten list of best Tejano songs of all-time, while "No Me Queda Más" ranked ninth.[93] Lisa Leal of KVTV said that "No Me Queda Más" and "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom", continue to be popular with fans and are Spanish-language counterparts of the Beatles' 1965 single, "Yesterday", in fan popularity.[94] Author Kristine Burns believes that the two aforementioned singles aided the growth of Selena's fan base.[95] "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" was the most-played song from Amor Prohibido on Mexican radio,[47] while its titular single "Amor Prohibido" remains popular in Spanish-speaking countries.[96] Following its sixteenth anniversary of the album's release, a readers poll in The Monitor saw participants choosing "No Me Queda Más" and "Fotos y Recuerdos" as their top picks, saying they "loved the feeling and musicianship in those two songs."[26] Three tracks on Amor Prohibido ranked among Billboards Greatest Hot Latin Songs of All-Time list in 2016, including "No Me Queda Más" at number 13, "Fotos y Recuerdos" at number 29, and "Amor Prohibido" at number 46.[97] The majority of the recordings found on Amor Prohibido have been named Selena's signature songs including the title track,[98] "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom",[49] "Fotos y Recuerdos",[99] and "Si Una Vez".[98]

Critical reception

Reviews

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[100]
Spin 5/10 stars[101]
Entertainment Weekly B[102]
The Monitor A[52]
San Antonio Express-News A[103]

The vast majority of contemporary reviews were positive and the album received widespread critical acclaim. Music critics found Amor Prohibido to have been Selena's best work,[42][104][105] calling it her band's "crowning achievement."[106] Other critics, such as Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine and musicologist James Perone, panned the album initially before coming to view Amor Prohibido positively. Erlewine found Amor Prohibido as "slightly uneven" and noticed how Selena was successful at "[putting] across the weaker material". Erlewine would later describe Amor Prohibido as "her strongest album" that he called "an effective introduction" which highlighted "why she was so beloved by Tejano fans."[60] Perone regarded the sound on Amor Prohibido to be dated, though he said it provided "ample evidence" of the singer's success.[44] Critics at The New York Times overwhelmingly praised the album, Joe Nick Patoski found Amor Prohibido to be a "watershed" of a recording that is consistent with that of "a supergroup [that hits] all the right bases",[15] while Peter Watrous argued that it "no way alienated its country, working-class constituency".[107]Greg Kot described it as having "a bit more contemporary snap to it".[108]

The album's sound received positive reviews: the music, described by author Ed Morales as a "subtle evolution",[42] and by The Dallas Morning News as "delightfully infectious, hummable [and] ultra radio-friendly",[37] were summarized and praised by The Monitor as "romantic, charming and ebullient."[52] The singer's "seductive alto" were described as being "at an expressive peak" by The Monitor,[52] while Billboard characterized the album's sound to be transparent for those unfamiliar with its musical diversity.[40] The San Antonio Express-News collectively praised the band as being at their "creative peak", while A.B.'s production was highlighted by the Rolling Stone who labeled it the "Selena sound" that would have made the singer a dominant force on the music charts had it not been for her death.[38]Amor Prohibido hinted of a "pop potential",[106] which was echoed by author Matt Doeden, who felt that the recording exhibited Selena's potential to become the genre's first pop musician.[36] Other reviews called the work the singer's: "blockbuster album",[109][110] her signature album,[111] a "career-defining" release,[112] her "most interesting" and "sleekest" record,[101][102] a "desert island album" for fans,[113] calling it a "notch up" in her career,[114] a "landmark",[115] a "victory" recording,[116] a "sultry, regional anthem."[117] and an "overnight sensation".[118]

Recognition

At the time of its release, Amor Prohibido was regarded as "highly popular" in Hispanic communities.[44] It exemplified the "generational split" within the Tejano market at the time. Musicians found the era to be "more sophisticated" and noticed that it was unnecessary to explore their roots to have successful recordings.[15] With Amor Prohibido, Selena catapulted Tejano music to "an unprecedented level of mainstream success" and brought it to areas unfamiliar with the genre.[40][71][119] The album popularized Tejano music among a younger and wider audience than at any other time in the genre's history,[120][121][11] while its sales were "unprecedented".[15] The album was instrumental in popularizing Tejano music and has been credited for "[putting] Tejano music on the map."[11] Tejano music entered the mainstream market in 1994 with the help of Amor Prohibido.[37]Amor Prohibido was the first record many young Hispanic females bought "with lyrics in the language [their] blood is rooted in."[122] With Amor Prohibido, Selena "made the voices and experiences of Latinos in the United States visible."[11] Jessica Diaz-Hurtado of NPR, writes that the album is "an ageless cultural symbol that was meant to transcend a moment in history. It did, to say the least."[11]

After the album's release, Selena was considered "bigger than Tejano itself", and broke barriers in the Latin music market.[119][11] The singer is credited for "[not breaking down] barriers with this album as much as she tore them down."[11] Critics felt the recording elevated Selena to being a leading female in the Latin music sector.[123] It established her as a leading performer among young singers who were crossing over into the mainstream market.[124] Mario Tarradell of The Dallas Morning News believed Selena "conquered the Latin pop landscape",[125] while Herón Márquez called it a "landmark success".[126] In a November 1994 Billboard issue, it was named, among other Latin recordings, as an example to show that American Latinos were able to sell albums in English-speaking markets across the US that had historically overlooked Latin music.[123] According to Gisela Orozco of the Chicago Tribune, Selena became the most successful Tejano musician following the release of Amor Prohibido.[127] During the 25th anniversary of the D.C. Latino Festival in July 1995, Amor Prohibido was played in its entirety at the festival, which was followed by her death that March.[128]

The album appeared on Tom Moon's list of the 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener's Life List (2008).[129] The Seattle Post-Intelligencer included Amor Prohibido on its list of the best-produced albums of 1994,[130] while the Houston Press placed it on its list of the best Texas albums of the past 30 years.[131] BuzzFeed ranked Amor Prohibido number 22 on its list of the 35 Old-School Latino Albums You Probably Forgot About.[132]Billboard magazine ranked Amor Prohibido among the most essential Latin recordings of the past 50 years,[40] and included it on its list of the top 100 albums of all-time.[133] In 2017, NPR ranked Amor Prohibido at number 19 on their list of the 150 greatest albums made by women, the highest-ranking album by a female Latin artist, and ninth highest-ranking recording by a woman of color.[11]

Accolades

Selena dominated the 1995 Tejano Music Awards, winning every category in which she was eligible.[134]Amor Prohibido won the Tejano Music Award for Album of the Year -- Orchestra,[134] while the title track won Record of the Year and Single of the Year.[135] "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" was Song of the Year, while "Techno Cumbia" received the award for Best Crossover Song.[135]Amor Prohibido received a nomination for Best Mexican-American Album at the 37th Annual Grammy Awards.[134] Music critic Chuck Philips, believed Selena was "the politically correct candidate" to win the Grammy, "with all the heavy media coverage she [had] received in the last two years [1992-94]", explained Philips as his reasoning.[136] At the Premio Lo Nuestro 1995, the album won Best Regional Mexican Album and its titular single won Regional Mexican Song of the Year.[137] At the second annual Billboard Latin Music Awards in 1995, it won Regional Mexican Album of the Year, Female and its namesake song won Regional Mexican Song of the Year while "No Me Queda Más" received the award for Music Video of the Year.[30]Amor Prohibido was nominated for Album of the Year at the 1995 Desi Entertainment Awards, while the title track was nominated for Spanish-language Song of the Year.[138] At the 1995 Pura Vida Hispanic Music Awards, music industry professionals voted for that year's Best Album for which they awarded to Amor Prohibido along with "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" which took Music Video of the Year and Song of the Year honors.[139]

Commercial performance

Amor Prohibido debuted at number three on the US Billboard Top Latin Albums chart the week ending April 9, 1994.[140] The following week it rose to number two and received the greatest jump in sales for that week.[140] In an interview with Billboard, A.B. was frustrated that the album had yet reached number one. He explained that they were limited in their capabilities with Tejano music and spoke about his excitement when Amor Prohibido finally topped the chart, saying the event "was a big thing [for us]."[10]Amor Prohibido peaked at number one in its tenth week, becoming the second album to place first on the newly formed Top Latin Albums chart displacing Cuban singer Gloria Estefan's Mi Tierra from the top spot.[141] Sales were so vigorous it nearly entered the US Billboard 200. It became the first Tejano record to peak at number one on the Top Latin Albums chart.[142] The event marked Selena as the "hottest artist in the Latino market."[142] The following week, the album entered the Billboard 200 chart at number 183, becoming the first record by a non-crossover act to do so since Mexican singer Luis Miguel's album Aries (1993).[143] The album also became the first recording by a Tejano singer to chart on the Billboard 200.[144] Mario Tarradell of The Dallas Morning News called the event "groundbreaking" and named Amor Prohibido as one of the most popular Latin recordings of 1994.[37]Amor Prohibido and Mi Tierra switched back and forth between the first and second positions on the Top Latin Albums chart for five consecutive weeks.[145] On July 16, the album debuted at number 18 on the US Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart and ranked number one in the South Central United States region.[146] By May 1994, Amor Prohibido had outsold other competing Tejano albums and lead the list of best-selling Tejano records of 1994.[147] Within 19 weeks of its release, the album outsold her previous recordings.[148] It was selling 2,000 units a week in Mexico,[149] while Selena was growing a following in Canada following the release of Amor Prohibido.[150]

After 48 weeks at number one on the US Billboard Regional Mexican Albums chart, Amor Prohibido was displaced by Bronco's Rompiendo Barreras.[151] Before Selena was murdered in March 1995, the album remained in the top five on the Top Latin Albums chart for 53 consecutive weeks.[152] Album sales in the four weeks preceding her death were slightly above 2,000 units a week.[153] In the week immediately before her death, Amor Prohibido sold 1,700 units.[154] Media attention had helped increased sales of Amor Prohibido as well as her back catalogue.[152] It was the most requested album by people in music stores looking for her work in the hours immediately after her death.[155] An Austin, Texas music retailer expressed how Amor Prohibido sold more units in the first month following her death "than it did the entire year it was out."[156] In McAllen, Texas, music shops reported that people bought the singer's earlier works than Amor Prohibido, citing that "most fans already have her latest [album]".[157] Music stores in Washington, DC, reportedly sold out of Amor Prohibido within days of her murder.[70] The album reached number one for the fifth time on April 15, 1995, with sales of 12,040 units - a 580% increase over the previous week.[152] It subsequently re-entered the Billboard 200 chart at number 92 and at number one on the Regional Mexican Albums chart.[152] The album sold an additional 28,238 units (a 136% increase) and rose to number 36 on the Billboard 200 chart.[153] It peaked at number 29 during its fifth week on the Billboard 200.[158] The album jumped from number 20 to number six on the list of the best-selling albums in southern California in the week following her death.[159] It eventually ranked second on their list of the best-selling albums in the region.[160] In a June 1995 report, Amor Prohibido was the second best-selling record in Puerto Rico.[161]Amor Prohibido and her 1992 studio album Entre a Mi Mundo, rose 1,250% in sales in the eight weeks following her murder, making it the third largest-percentage gains following a musician's death as of June 2010, behind American singers Alex Chilton and Michael Jackson's percentage increase following their deaths.[162] The album helped increase local record shops in Texas who were "selling more than when [Selena] was alive".[163]Amor Prohibido remained at number one on the Top Latin Albums chart for 16 weeks following her death until the planned release of her crossover album Dreaming of You replaced it on August 5.[164] The album remained behind Dreaming of You for seven weeks.[165] After 98 weeks the album dropped from the top five on the Top Latin Albums chart,[166] though it remained within the top ten for 12 additional weeks.[167] It holds the record for most weeks at number one on the Regional Mexican Albums chart at 97 weeks,[168] and is the only album to reach number one in four different calendar years.[169] The album has spent twenty weeks atop the Top Latin Albums chart, which is the ninth most weeks an album has spent at number one.[170]Amor Prohibido has spent 111 weeks within the top ten of the Top Latin Albums chart, which is the second most weeks behind American singer Romeo Santos' Formula, Vol. 2 (2014).[171]

It finished 1994 as the fourth best-selling US Latin album and the best-selling regional Mexican album.[85] In 1995, it ranked second to Dreaming of You for the best-selling Latin album for that year,[172] while it remained the best-selling regional Mexican recording for three consecutive years.[173]Amor Prohibido became the ninth best-selling Latin album of 1996.[173] It also ranked as the second best-selling Latin catalog album of 1997,[174] while in 1998 it placed third.[175]Billboards revised catalog criteria made it ineligible for the Top Latin Albums and Regional Mexican Albums chart on January 18, 1997. It was removed from the list and began charting on the newly formed Latin Catalog Albums chart positioned at number two.[176] Since 1997, the album has spent 13 nonconsecutive weeks at number one on the Top Latin Catalog Albums chart including three weeks in 2010.[177] Following another revision to its Latin albums charts, Billboard removed its two-decade-long ban of catalog albums in its chart beginning with the February 11, 2017 list; Amor Prohibido re-entered the Top Latin Albums and Regional Mexican Albums chart after 20 years.[178][179][180] Still popular today, Nielsen SoundScan reported that Amor Prohibido was the ninth best-selling Latin record of 2016.[181] After its revision, Amor Prohibido reclaimed the number one position on the Regional Mexican Albums chart in May 2017.[182] It was the first album by a woman to claim the top position since Jenni Rivera's Paloma Negra Desde Monterrey (2016).[183]Amor Prohibido became the last album by a woman to claim the top spot until Rivera's daughter Chiquis Rivera's album Entre Botellas (2018) debuted at number one in March 2018.[184] In November 1994, the album had sold 200,000 units in the US.[123] A report by Billboard showed the singer was one of the top-selling acts in Mexico.[123] It became the second Tejano album to reach year-end sales of 500,000 copies. This had only been accomplished by La Mafia previously.[137] Despite this, Nielsen Soundscan reported that the recording actually sold 184,000 units by April 1995.[152] According to Behar, the sales figures Nielsen SoundScan provided did not include sales in small shops specializing in Latin music.[185][186] That May, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album gold, for shipments of 500,000 units.[187] Within three weeks, it was certified platinum for increments of one million units.[188]Amor Prohibido became the first Tejano record to receive a platinum certification.[154] By June 1995, it had sold 1.5 million units in the US,[189][nb 3] of which 100,000 were sold in Puerto Rico alone.[161] As of November 2017, the album has been certified 36× Platinum (Latin), denoting 2.14 million album-equivalent units sold.[84]Amor Prohibido is the second-highest certified Latin album in the United States trailing only her posthumous album Dreaming of You (1995),[192] and is the fourth best-selling Latin album of all-time in the US with over 1.246 million copies sold as of October 2017.[193] It has sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide,[194] and has been ranked as the best-selling Tejano album of the 1990s,[104] and the best-selling Tejano album of all-time.[118][154][195]

Track listing

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Amor Prohibido.[4]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Amor Prohibido"
2:49
2. "No Me Queda Más" Ricky Vela
  • A.B.
  • Silvetti
3:17
3. "Cobarde" José Luis Borrego Borrego 2:50
4. "Fotos y Recuerdos" A.B. 2:33
5. "El Chico Del Apartamento 512"
  • A.B.
  • Vela
A.B. 3:28
6. "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom"
  • Selena
  • Astudillo
  • A.B.
A.B. 3:25
7. "Techno Cumbia"
  • A.B.
  • Astudillo
A.B. 3:43
8. "Tus Desprecios"
  • A.B.
  • Vela
A.B. 3:24
9. "Si Una Vez"
  • A.B.
  • Astudillo
A.B. 2:42
10. "Ya No"
  • A.B.
  • Vela
A.B. 3:56
Total length: 35:27

Credits and personnel

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Amor Prohibido.[4]

Instruments
Technical and production credits

Charts

Weekly charts

Year-end charts

Chart (1994) Position
US Top Latin Albums[85] 4
US Regional Mexican Albums[85] 1
Chart (1995) Position
US Billboard 200[172] 164
US Top Latin Albums[172] 2
US Regional Mexican Albums[172] 1
Chart (1996) Position
US Top Latin Albums[173] 6
US Regional Mexican Albums[173] 1
Chart (1997) Position
US Latin Catalog Albums[174] 2
Chart (1998) Position
US Latin Catalog Albums[175] 3
Chart (2017) Position
US Top Latin Albums[200] 32
US Regional Mexican Albums[201] 9

Certifications and sales

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Mexico (AMPROFON)[202] Gold 400,000[88]
United States (RIAA)[84] 36× Platinum (Latin) 1,246,000[193]
Summaries
Worldwide 2,500,000[194]

^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

See also

Notes

  1. ^ According to A.B. the entire production of Amor Prohibido took six months to complete before it was released in March 1994, which translates to September 1993.[4] According to Chris Pérez, the band performed the original English version of "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" at their Nuevo Leon concert that September 1993. He explicitly said that he did not remember the exact date for which the band began production of Amor Prohibido. Though he expressed that the day after their Nuevo Leon concert, the band began production of Amor Prohibido with the finishing touches to "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" into a Spanish-language Tejano cumbia song.[12] Biographer Joe Nick Patoski wrote that the date of the Nuevo Leon concert was September 16, 1993.[13]
  2. ^ According to music-authoritative AllMusic, Amor Prohibido was released on March 13, 1994,[60] though Ramiro Burr of the San Antonio Express-News wrote that the album was released on March 14, 1994,[61] however, this contradicts the re-released liner notes in 2002 where the album was said to have been released on March 27, 1994.[4] Newspapers at the time of its release, place the street date in April 1994,[62][63] with the earliest promotional ad running for the album was in The Galveston Daily News on April 15, 1994.[64]
  3. ^ According to Patoski, Amor Prohibido sold 1.5 million copies by June 1995, a source he obtained from Time magazine.[189] According to Nielsen SoundScan, Amor Prohibido has sold 1.246 million copies as of October 2017. The company does not include sales from malls (i.e., FYE), discounted or sale priced CDs below 50% of the suggested list price, bulk purchases by a single individual,[190]mom and pop shops,[185] small retailers without electronic cash registers, and nontraditional outlets such as flea markets and drugstores are not reported to SoundScan.[191]

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Bibliography

External links


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Amor_Prohibido
 



 

 
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