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Embracing My Culture & Following My Dreams: What Selena Quintanilla Means to Me as a Latina Millennial

I was 8 years old when I was hit with the terrible news that my favorite singer, my idol, was dead. I couldn’t understand it. On March 31, 1995, Selena Quintanilla was shot dead by the president of her fan club. She was 23 years old. I vividly remember the day it happened. It was…

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Embracing My Culture & Following My Dreams: What Selena Quintanilla Means to Me as a Latina Millennial

I was 8 years old when I was hit with the terrible news that my favorite singer, my idol, was dead. I couldn’t understand it. On March 31, 1995, Selena Quintanilla was shot dead by the president of her fan club. She was 23 years old.
I vividly remember the day it happened. It was Friday and my mother picked me up early from school, a little after 2 p.m. I didn’t know why I was going home early until my mom broke the news in the car: “Selena has been hurt.” As a second-grader, I didn’t fathom the seriousness of her words, but I could tell from her flushed cheeks and puffy eyes that “hurt” meant something more than just a broken leg from a slip onstage.
My mother and I, who had been Selena fans since her 1990 album Ven Conmigo, watched the TV for any updates. She would cover my eyes as they showed scenes of Selena’s killer in her red pickup truck negotiating with the cops. I could see from the corner of my eye that it was a gloomy day in Corpus Christi. It was then, watching local news, that I found out Selena had died.

And at that moment, my world stopped.
I know it sounds melodramatic, but Selena’s music has been a part of my life since I was 4 years old. As a child, I would imitate her “washing machine” dance moves and pour my heart out to songs such as “Tu Solo Tu,” “Cobarde” and “Missing My Baby.” I lived heartbreaks without even having a first boyfriend and felt empowered in my tween years. Selena’s melodies sparked my passion for different genres, such as Tejano, cumbia and even ’90s techno.
But it wasn’t only Selena’s music that captivated my little ears. It was her entire aura.

I could tell from her unguarded laughter in interviews and TV performances that she was humble, charismatic and free-spirited. She inspired me to follow my dreams, keep grounded, embrace my culture and to always believe that the impossible is possible.
There were many Latina artists in the ’90s, such as Thalía, Paulina Rubio and Gloria Trevi, but only Selena represented me. She was a Hispanic-American girl who came from a middle-class working family, had big dreams, and spoke perfect English with decent Spanish-speaking skills. Her aura made me feel like I was part of her family, and that’s why her death was such a big blow.
She was known as the Queen of Tejano but was not afraid to dip her toes in other genres. She and her brother A.B. Quintanilla, who produced her biggest hits, single-handedly revolutionized the Tejano industry, incorporating their Mexican-American background in music.
As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Selena overcame many obstacles while keeping it classy and real. With her bedazzled bustiers and high-waisted pants, she managed to be sexy without objectifying her image. Her music, including timeless hits such as “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and “Como La Flor,” had a universal appeal. She ultimately put the Latino community on the map by breaking barriers and making history as the first Tejano artist to nab a Grammy in 1993.
Selena has 22 entries in the Hot Latin Songs chart, seven of which hit No. 1, including “Amor Prohibido,” which peaked on June 11, 1994, reigning for nine weeks, and “No Me Queda Más,” which ruled for seven nonconsecutive weeks starting Dec. 17, 1994-dated chart.
Seven out of her 23 Top Latin Albums titles hit No. 1, including her crossover album Dreaming of You released posthumously, which debuted at No. 1 on the Aug. 5, 1995-dated chart, remaining at the penthouse for 44 non-consecutive weeks.

On the Regional Mexican Albums chart, Amor Prohibido debuted at No. 1 on April 9, 1994-dated chart and remained atop the list for 97 nonconsecutive weeks, the most weeks at No. 1 for an album overall in the history of the chart.
She charted 15 titles on the Billboard 200 and her English track “Dreaming of You” peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated Nov. 25, 1995, further proving that after so many years, she is still the model of Tejano-American music.

Selena’s music was and still is the bridge that connects people of all ages, races and cultures together. Her legacy continues to shine on the charts, on social media, on street murals, in clothing lines and makeup brands, as an example of a true Latin icon in pop culture.
At 8 years old, I couldn’t understand why my idol was dead. I couldn’t understand that after March 31, 1995, she was never going to make more music and that her album Dreaming of You was not going to have any music videos. I couldn’t understand that I would never see her in concert or, much less, meet her in person.
Growing up without Selena hasn’t been easy. Role models were scarce for bilingual Latinas like me and no one quite ever filled her shoes.
But now, 24 years later, I am seeing a new generation of young Latina artists who, like Selena, are staying true to their roots and true to themselves, making music that truly speaks to and inspires their fans. Now I understand that Selena never died, that she will forever live in my heart, and that each generation revives her.

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Art & Culture

Janelle Monáe Leads The Revolution In Stirring ‘Turntables’ Video

YouTube “We are in the middle of a revolution right? What’s a revolution without a song and a song without a revolution.” That’s the question the Grammy-winning artist Janelle Monáe posed to Entertainment Weekly when describing her latest single, “Turntables.” The song was released on and flips between cleverly rapped lines about “liberation, elevation, education” and a harmonic…

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Janelle Monáe Leads The Revolution In Stirring ‘Turntables’ Video

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“We are in the middle of a revolution right? What’s a revolution without a song and a song without a revolution.”
That’s the question the Grammy-winning artist Janelle Monáe posed to Entertainment Weekly when describing her latest single, “Turntables.” The song was released on and flips between cleverly rapped lines about “liberation, elevation, education” and a harmonic refrain with clear gospel influences. It’s Monáe’s take on a contemporary protest song, a call for a political sea change, in the vein of, say, Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” or Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.”
Courtesy of Atlantic RecordsAnd on Tuesday (September), Monáe released a moving music video — or, as she calls it, an emotion picture — that solidified that message. The visual opens and closes with the singer walking along the beach in a beige trench coat and military cap. At times, she can be seen singing into a retro microphone before an American flag; in others, she moves through staged breakfast scenes, with a family reading through newspaper headlines as they mouth her lyrics. The visual flashes through archival and contemporary footage depicting inspirational figures past and present: Where one scene shows the model and activist Jillian Mercado at a photo shoot, another depicts a conversation with lifelong activist Angela Davis.
What rings true without is a hopeful cry for change and for equality, and a recognition of those who have been leading that fight for decades. Monáe wrote “Turntables” for the new Amazon Studios documentary, All In: The Fight for Democracy, that shines a light on voter suppression, particularly through the lens of Stacey Abrams’s failed bid for the Georgia governorship. “Right now, I am focused on turning the election in our favor,” Monáe told Entertainment Weekly, “and I hope this song can inspire those who are on the ground doing the work.”

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Joe Keery’s Reinvention, Mxmtoon’s Carly Rae Jepsen Collab, And More Songs We Love

Getty Images/April Blum The search for the ever-elusive “bop” is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new? Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminate by…

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Joe Keery’s Reinvention, Mxmtoon’s Carly Rae Jepsen Collab, And More Songs We Love

Getty Images/April Blum

The search for the ever-elusive “bop” is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new?
Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminate by genre and can include anything — it’s a snapshot of what’s on our minds and what sounds good. We’ll keep it fresh with the latest music, but expect a few oldies (but goodies) every once in a while, too. Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.

St. Vincent ft. Yoshiki: “New York”

St. Vincent, the intuitive musical goddess that she is, must have sensed our collective need for another quarantine ballad. Enter “New York [Feat. Yoshiki],” a classical arrangement of the standout single from 2017’s Masseduction. An added string section courtesy of Yoshiki, a Japanese multi-instrumentalist, beautifully complements the song’s original piano instrumentals. What more can I say? “New York isn’t New York / Without you, love” just hits different in the middle of a pandemic. —Sam Manzella

Djo: “Keep Your Head Up”

Last year, Joe Keery (of Stranger Things fame) released a glossy solo album under the moniker Djo. It was titled Twenty Twenty, and its sparkling arrangements ended up being quite far removed from the overall vibe of 2020 the year, but who could fault him for his optimism? Keery has also long been a contributing member of Chicago psych band Post Animal, but Djo is simply Joe — and latest “Keep Your Head Up” feels like several Joes ripping open a vortex in the funk-time continuum. This is a groove, peppered with buzzy synths and icy falsetto and an honest-to-god sax part. It’s akin to Todd Terje doing Tame Impala, a lightheaded cocktail rush that feels both clubby and bedroom ambitious. Positively galactic. —Patrick Hosken

Mxmtoon ft. Carly Rae Jepsen: “OK On Your Own”

When Mxmtoon’s Maia said she recorded “OK On Your Own” for the girls and the gays, she wasn’t kidding. The mellow bedroom-pop bop soundtracks a journey of self-reflection after a breakup, complete with the soft ukulele instrumentals that put the 19-year-old singer-songwriter on the map. Is it revelatory? No, but with pop icon Carly Rae Jepsen lending her sugary-sweet vocals to the second verse, it doesn’t have to be. Now I’m just waiting for “Party for Two.” —Sam Manzella

Video Age: “Aerostar”

Pleasure Line, the third album from emerging indie pop quartet Video Age, delivers perfectly escapist ’80s new wave vibes for when you need to get outta 2020 for just a moment. “Aerostar” is its punchy center, a hip-twisting, shoulder-shuffling groove that delivers quirky robot dance commands (“Slide to the left, now! Shimmy to the right!”) over hoppin’ funk synths and a kickin’ drum machine. It all harkens to a simpler time, one where dance floors were actually a real thing. Oh, the ’80s! —Terron Moore

Ruel: “As Long As You Care”

About a year ago, Australian middle-part heartthrob Ruel told MTV News that for him, “songwriting is exaggerating to an extent.” On his latest, the technicolor, soulful “As Long As You Care,” his exaggeration is so seamless, you’d be forgiven for believing the 17-year-old is actually a time traveler. The neo-soul groove he rides propels everything upward, even as the sound cheekily looks backward. “As Long As You Care” has one amazing hook, coupled with sonic candy that makes his upcoming third EP, Bright Lights, Red Eyes (out October 23) one to watch. —Patrick Hosken

Alycia Bella ft. Boogie: “Cue the Sun”

Something magical happens two-and-a-half minutes into “Cue the Sun,” the exploratory new collab between striking R&B voice Alycia Bella and rapper Boogie. After piping in the aural equivalent of stage smoke via jazzy piano and gorgeous vocalizations — “It feel like being lost in the right direction” — Bella’s song enters a more sparkly realm for Boogie’s recitations. By the end, you’re lighter, like your mind’s been cleared of all the cobwebs. Cue the sun. —Patrick Hosken

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Who Are You Most Excited to See Perform at the 2020 ACM Awards? Vote!

The 55th Academy of Country Music Awards will welcome back Taylor Swift and present a new collaboration from the evening’s host Keith Urban and P!nk on Wednesday, Sept. 16. But which one of the highly anticipated performances are you counting down the hours to? Nine-time ACM Award winner Swift, whose latest studio album Folklore has topped the Billboard 200 for six…

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Who Are You Most Excited to See Perform at the 2020 ACM Awards? Vote!

The 55th Academy of Country Music Awards will welcome back Taylor Swift and present a new collaboration from the evening’s host Keith Urban and P!nk on Wednesday, Sept. 16. But which one of the highly anticipated performances are you counting down the hours to?
Nine-time ACM Award winner Swift, whose latest studio album Folklore has topped the Billboard 200 for six weeks, will come back for the first time in seven years to perform the country-leaning fan-favorite track “Betty.” Meanwhile, 15-time ACM Award winner Urban and Pink will come together for the world television premiere of their brand new collaboration “One Too Many,” which is from the country star’s forthcoming album, The Speed of Now, Part 1.

Billboard broke the news Monday (Sept. 14) that all five nominees for entertainer of the year — Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett — will take the stage to perform a medley of their greatest hits. Additionally, ACM’s freshly crowned new male and female artist of the year winners Riley Green and Tenille Townes, respectively, will also perform.

For the first time in the awards show’s history, the ACMs will be broadcast live from Nashville, with socially distanced performances from the Grand Ole Opry House, the historic Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe.
The 55th ACM Awards will air live Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m. ET (delayed for the West Coast) on CBS and CBS All Access. (The event is produced by dick clark productions, which shares a parent company with Billboard.)
So which of the performances can’t you wait to see? Vote below!

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