Why Can’t Y’all Just Let Selena Be Dead?

The news that Selena Quintanilla's voice will be "aged" on her next posthumous record shows how far we strayed from God's path.

Why Can’t Y’all Just Let Selena Be Dead?
Photo:L: Houston Chronicle, John Everett, R: George Gongora-Corpus Christi Caller-Times (AP)

The vast majority of people deserve to die and rest in peace—especially people who died gruesomely like Selena Quintanilla.

However, her estate continues to have other plans. Moonchild Mixes, which is due out Aug. 26, is a posthumous album of songs the late singer recorded as a teen—when she had a teenager’s voice and vocal control. But it won’t sound like 13- to 16-year-old Selena. Her brother/bandmate A.B. Quintanilla said the production team cleaned up the recordings and “pitched her vocal down just a hair to make her sound a little bit more mature.”

That is to say: They’ve altered her voice in death in order to make yet another record.

But the estate sees the manipulation as only a good thing, and definitely not a weird cash grab. “What we’re doing is honoring her memory, her legacy,” A.B. Quintanilla told ABC News. “We’re still going to do what we want with our music, with our sister, with our band.”

I am a part of the posthumous moneymaking problem here. I bought Selena’s compilation album The Ones (2020) on vinyl. (She died in 1995.) I have bought her estate’s collaboration with MAC: The bronzer/blush compact is perfect for my skin tone. I fucking love Selena’s music and her deserved status as a cultural icon. There are simply no other Mexican American celebrities like her, and her death is a part of that. But since talks began for the authorized biopic (starring Jennifer Lopez) just weeks after her death, her estate has continued to profit off of her highly successful music and image.

The family’s goal of controlling Selena’s image and owning the subsequent profits is no secret. Selena was well monetized in life, too. Making money off a pop star is normal! However, re-pitching and re-timing old vocals originally recorded to vinyl to digitally alter them is not normal. Creating the first single from this record apparently took a year, according to A.B. Quintanilla. That’s a year to abandon a project. That’s a year to decide on literally any other way to introduce Selena’s music to a new generation of customers fans.

Digitally altering her voice to make it seem as though she has continued living doesn’t bring her back. Of course, that is their right; they own her. But with God as my witness, this is too grotesque for me to spend money on. Let Selena’s voice be Selena’s voice. That voice is why we love her.

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