Release Date: Nov 13, 2015
Record label: Def Jam
Genre(s): R&B, Contemporary R&B
From sharing videos on YouTube to sharing a stage with Taylor Swift, Alessia Cara had quite the 2015. Propelled by her anti-party lead single ‘Here’ (now clocking over 50 million views at the time of writing), Cara is the latest in a line of artists who feel so self-conscious that they can’t wait to leave something fun as soon as they’ve arrived. ‘Here’ is one for all the loners out there, a theme tune for awkward and anxious young people everywhere.
The teenage wallflower anthem "Here," Alessia Cara's debut for Def Jam, was released in May 2015 and sounded nothing like the hits -- such as the Weeknd's "Earned It," Omarion's "Post to Be," and Rihanna's "B**** Better Have My Money" -- that were at or around the top of Billboard's R&B chart. Even with instant recognition of the Isaac Hayes sample that drives it, "Here" sounded distinct, not only because its tracing of social anxieties was so palpable, but also because Cara sounded remarkably poised for her age. Three months later, the song appeared on Four Pink Walls, the debut EP from the Canadian singer and songwriter.
Alessia Cara, the 19-year-old musician/singer-songwriter from Brampton, ON, has had a good summer, if not a good year. The self-taught guitarist has been able to leverage her acoustic cover song performances that engaged YouTube subscribers to craft the pop-R&B hit "Here" that commandeered streaming sites and radio rotation this past summer. Cara maintains that her sound is "alternative pop," but her sound lays R&B, hip-hop and rock influences bare.Her debut full-length, Know-It-All, is a dynamic expression of popular music, filtered through a lens of adolescent angst and determinism.
Review Summary: Canadian teenager plots the grid-points to success & comes up with a style all of her own.Success in the music industry – especially when it comes to the pop genre – can sometimes be akin to playing the game of Battleship. One can be so close to sinking an opponent’s ships, yet so far away if they don’t hit the exact sweet spot that is required. If her debut LP ‘Know-It-All’ is anything to go by, then Canadian teenager Alessia Cara appears to have been doing some grid work on her sound; plotting points between a number of prosperous artists who have laid the groundwork before her.
Canadian artist Alessia Cara achieved Topshop changing-room ubiquity last year with Here, a soulful slice of R&B celebrating being the introvert at a party. Agreeably sullen, it marked the 19-year-old out as a teen star uninterested in aping the forced enthusiasm of major-label pop. Cara’s outsider status is also evident on her debut album, Know-It-All, which functions both as soapbox and confessional booth.
Alessia Cara's defiantly grumpy breakthrough hit, "Here," was about feeling like an "antisocial pessimist" who opts out of alcohol- and weed-tinged parties. On another single from her debut LP, "Wild Things," the 19-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter declares that she won't "hang around the in-crowd/The cool kids aren't cool to me. " Okay, we get it – she's not your average pop star.
Alessia Cara has become a star very quickly. Her coming out party, which came in the form of the loner anthem “Here,” exposed a receptive world to a soulful R&B sound. Cara’s lament about a less-than-enjoyable party made her a poster child for Introvert Nation at a time when shyness—thanks to writers like Susan Cain and various digital media outlets — has been recast as an identity unto itself.
Pop most often sells a fantasy of great times being had by beautiful people. The “most viral” song of 2015, though (source: Spotify), was Here by Alessia Cara, a track quickly hailed as an introvert’s anthem. Over an Isaac Hayes loop previously repurposed by Portishead for Glory Box, the then-18-year-old Canadian eloquently demolished the lie about teenage parties being fun.
Like many a nascent YouTube star, Alessia Cara had no idea her hobby could change her life. She began singing into a webcam aged 13, though it was another four years before the music industry came a-knocking when she uploaded her cover of The Neighbourhood’s ‘Sweater Weather’ (its dream-pop morphed into a crisp, latin-influenced acoustic number). Judging by ‘Four Pink Walls’, one of the most distinctive tracks from her debut album ‘Know-It-All’, the 19-year-old is still coming to terms with pop-star status.
The opening volley from BBC Sound of 2016 runner-up Alessia Cara’s debut album appropriately reminds us of her young age, as the 19-year old writes about being two years younger at “Seventeen” and wondering why you are at a party with people you don’t like, listening to music you’d never play… For an artist quickly rising to fame as a viral sensation (she cites Ed Sheeran as an influence, Ed Sheeran, who released his first album in 2011) she can still be seen on YouTube as a 15-year-old covering The Neighbourhood in her bedroom. Now she's equally quickly brought out her own collection to test the waters with her own material. And it’s pretty solid, really.
Alessia Cara has had a whirlwind year. The 19-year-old from Brampton - discovered via her YouTube channel, which is chock-full of covers à la Bieber and Cody Simpson - signed to Def Jam, performed with Taylor Swift in concert and appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Now she has a debut record to end the year, and it's equal parts Lorde, Amy Winehouse and 90s R&B.