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The Secret History of Texas Music

“Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” (1994)

Written by: Selena Quintanilla Perez, Pete Astudillo Recorded by: Selena

Selena performs at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo inside the Astrodome, which drew 66,994 people and set an all-time attendance record on Feb. 28, 1993.
Photography by AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Dave Einsel

Selena was fast becoming a major star but didn’t have much experience as a composer when she helped write her most famous song. In 1992 she and her band were on tour supporting her breakout album, Entre a Mi Mundo. One afternoon during a sound check, while bassist A. B. Quintanilla (Selena’s older brother and bandleader) jammed with guitarist Chris Perez (Selena’s husband), Selena joined in, singing made-up phrases like “itty bitty bubbles.” Over the next few sound checks, she and the band returned to the nascent tune. Backup singer Pete Astudillo remembers Selena singing, “If I was a fish, under the sea, I would swim, swim, swim to you.” Eventually, Quintanilla realized they had the rhythm and melody of a great song—they just needed some actual lyrics. So he asked Astudillo, a native Laredoan who had already penned a couple of hits for Selena, to write them. Astudillo obliged, using Selena’s idea but taking the song from sea to land. “Itty bitty bubbles” became “bidi bidi bom bom,” the sound a young woman’s heart makes every time her crush is near.

The band recorded the song at Selena’s father’s Corpus Christi studio, giving it a cumbia-reggae-pop feel that, led by Selena’s playful vocals, took it to number one on Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks. And it turned out to be the only song Astudillo would ever write with Selena. “If we had actually sat down and tried to write a song together,” he says, “I don’t think it would have happened.”

Cada vez, cada vez que lo veo pasar
Mi corazón se enloquece
Y me empieza a palpitar
Bidi bidi bom bom.
[Each time, each time that I see him go by
My heart goes crazy
And begins to pound and beat
Bidi bidi bom bom.]

The band recorded the song at Selena’s father’s Corpus Christi studio, giving it a cumbia-reggae-pop feel that, led by Selena’s playful vocals, took it to number one on Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks. And it turned out to be the only song Astudillo would ever write with Selena. “If we had actually sat down and tried to write a song together,” he says, “I don’t think it would have happened.”

Bidi Bidi Bom Bom: Lyrics printed with permission.

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