The entertainment world has been abuzz for months, anxiously awaiting the December 4th debut of Selena: The Series, the new Netflix Original series that takes a deeper dive into the early years of Selena y Los Dinos and the dynamics of the Quintanilla family during the band’s rise to stardom. The series is currently #1 on the streaming provider, with millions of viewers tuning in over the past three days.
While the series is undeniably about Selena, there has been a significant increase in Google searches for fellow Tejanos who figure prominently in the series and for Tejano music itself.
The series spends a good amount of time on the Tejano Music Awards, and “Tejano’s Biggest Night” is the backdrop in multiple episodes. One of the most pivotal and memorable scenes in the entire series is when Selena encounters Laura Canales in the ladies’ restroom, where the veteran singer imparts wisdom and encouragement to young Selena.
As a result, the audience wanted to know more about Laura Canales, as evidenced by profiles of Laura in Seventeen and Women’s Health - media that would never have even mentioned her otherwise. To demonstrate this visually, here’s a Google Trends graph of “Interest over Time” for the past five years for searches for Laura Canales in the US. The spike at the end is, you guessed it, from this past weekend.
And it’s not just Laura who benefited from being featured in the series. It was the same for Patsy Torres. Although the screen time for Patsy was very short, she was a nominee for Best Female Vocalist alongside Laura and Selena, so it’s not a stretch to speculate that the audience wanted to know more about her.
And Johnny Canales, who pops up in several episodes along their musical journey.
And the Tejano Music Awards. This spike in online attention may turn out to be an even bigger gift to them since this year’s awards ceremony is happening online on December 19th.
But most importantly, more people want to learn about Tejano music itself.
Others who were briefly depicted in the series but who didn’t see the bounce were Oscar and Leonard of La Mafia (whose time on screen was maybe 20 seconds), and Shelly Lares (who was only referred to as Shelly). It could reasonably be assumed that, had they used Shelly’s full name, she would likely have seen the same spike.
So what does this all mean? It clearly demonstrates the power of media and the benefit an entire genre can get when one artist is given the spotlight and decides to shine even a little bit on those around them.
In other words, it means that whenever a Tejano or Conjunto musician has a microphone in front of them or when they are given a platform with a huge audience, especially when it’s with big-time media outside the genre, they shouldn’t just talk about themselves. They should list off a bunch of their Tejano or Conjunto influences (particularly if they are not well-known) or bands they work with frequently or admire, and really talk about their genre and what it means to be part of it.
To borrow an example from another style of music, Texas Blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan did exactly this in almost every opportunity he got when he made it big. In every interview, he talked about his own Blues influences: Albert King, Buddy Guy, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Freddie King, Jimi Hendrix, etc., whenever he got the chance. Many believe that it was his sharing his platform and using his voice to elevate these legends and the genre that he loved with all his heart, that helped fuel the resurgence of Blues music in the 1980s.
It’s a moment to represent and raise the profile of everyone around them. When it’s with non-Tejano media, especially, it’s a very rare moment to tell the world that the genre isn’t just a handful of highly recognized and celebrated superstars whom everyone knows. It’s a moment to prove that Tejano and Conjunto music is a living, breathing, musical community with literally hundreds of bands all over the country, past and present. It’s a moment to truly be a fan and evangelize on the genre’s behalf. It’s a moment to be proud and describe just how big La Onda is, from the musicians to the fans.
Selena: The Series made space for Laura Canales and more, on one of the biggest platforms in the world and showed how it should be done. And the numbers don’t lie.
(Special thanks to Iliana Vasquez for her research for this article)