Outsider pop that threatens to subvert the mainstream from the edges of the room.
Label: Virgin EMI
Released: March 11th 2016
The gestation of the modern pop star follows an odd template. Alessia Cara’s mega-smash single, ‘Here’, has been available to buy for nearly twelve months now – it’s already ramped up north of 50,000,000 YouTube streams – yet it didn’t reach its US Billboard peak until late January this year, when it hit the Top 5. Debut album ‘Know-It-All’ actually received a release outside of the UK late last year. Four months on from its stateside release, it’s finally getting a UK push – and it’s about time too.
The Canadian represents something different to her future peers. Not the good time party girl of a Katy Perry, or the hyper-positive Taylor Swift, instead she’s the introverted one. Self-aware, not flashing her pearly whites for the pre-photoshop camera. Like Lorde, it’s this suggestion of a hidden depth that makes her R&B pop seem more of the moment. ‘Wild Things’, with its outsider rallying-shrug, suggests that the old pastiche of cool doesn’t reign true anymore. In 2016, the fringes are the place to be.
Cara’s vibe may sometimes feel anxious, but it’s also fearsomely loyal and at ease in its own skin. A vocal packed with charisma, there’s no need for gymnastics to give off that confidence. ‘Stone’, in particular, feels no need to show off in order to prove she has all the required tools and then some.
If this new breed of pop star has what it takes to break through into true mainstream megastardom is somewhat academic. Like her music, Alessia Cara can thrive on the edge. With her own crowd behind her, she has nothing left to prove.