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Long-Awaited Selena Album Updates Tejano Superstar’s Early Tracks

On ‘Moonchild Mixes,’ the star’s family used advanced digital technology to modernize songs

Selena Moonchild album cover
Warner Music

​​​​Moonchild Mixes, the new album by Selena Quintanilla, has finally arrived. Produced by her family, the much-anticipated new release is a bold step by the Quintanillas. It’s an innovative, if risky, labor of love that uses advances in digital technology to modify the voice of the much-loved “Queen of Tejano Music,”in order to update 13 early tracks that were recorded when the singer was in her teens. ​​

Although Selena was only 23 in 1995, when she was gunned down by the president of her fan club, she left an extensive musical legacy that includes her first recordings with the family band, Selena y Los Dinos; her work as a solo artist; and numerous compilation albums that include posthumous LPs with unreleased material and remixes. ​​

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Released under the Warner Music Latina label, Moonchild Mixes — a reference to the Greek meaning of the singer’s name as a “daughter of the moon” — is the creative brainchild of A.B. Quintanilla III, Selena’s brother and producer, who personally worked with his sister’s voice tracks, lowering her voice a half tone to make her sound as she did when she was older and at the peak of her career. In addition, the instrumentation was given a modern and fuller sound, creating a contemporary feel for the album. ​

Selena fans react

When the Quintanilla family announced the release — part of their ongoing work to keep Selena’s music alive — many of her fans expressed dissatisfaction on social media. In addition to questioning whether Selena herself would have wanted her voice to be manipulated and altered digitally, many wondered whether it would not have been better to release the existing unreleased material in its original form.​​

You only need to listen to a few of the songs included in Moonchild Mixes to understand that these fears were unfounded.​​

The first single, “Cómo te quiero yo a ti,” is a delicate ranchera ballad with an exquisite arrangement of string and wind instruments that allows the singer’s voice to take center stage. And that is precisely the most surprising element of the album. Far from altering Selena’s voice in an excessive or artificial way, the change in tone is subtle, at times imperceptible. ​​

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Musical experimentation

Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, promised that the songs would sound “as if she had recorded them just this morning.” That’s an excellent description of the finished product, an experiment that can definitely be classified as successful. The album encompasses diverse styles, from mariachi to cumbia-pop, which Selena helped popularize in the 1990s, and the choice of instruments and the audio mixing are done with sensitivity and a clear appreciation for the original sound that conquered the hearts of so many fans.​​

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Most of these recordings were made when Selena was between 13 and 16 years old, and the maturity of her performance is extraordinary. The chorus of “No llores más” is catchy, supported by an arrangement of electronic rhythms, Latin percussion and synthesizers. “Salta la ranita” reflects a more innocent, childlike Selena, while in “Corazoncito,” she shows a precocious talent and ability to evoke the disappointments of romantic love, albeit from a teenager’s point of view.​​

Where Moonchild Mixes does fall short is in its somewhat lack of material. There are three versions of “Cómo te quiero yo a ti” (regional Mexican, cumbia and pop) and two versions of “Dame tu amor.” Perhaps it would have been preferable to compile a more solid album with similar versions of hits from the last phase of Selena’s career.​​

But this is just a minor detail. When savoring these reinvented songs, the Quintanilla family’s dedication to this innovative project is abundantly clear. As the album once again demonstrates, Selena had one of the most extraordinary voices in Latin music. Almost 30 years after her death, her presence moves us in a tender and immediate way.

6 Things You Didn't Know About Selena Quintanilla

​​​Ernesto Lechner is a journalist from Los Angeles who writes about music, film and culture for AARP. His work has been published in the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, as well as in Rolling Stone and Billboard magazines, among other publications.

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