Our Latest Obsession: Alessia Cara
Photos by Meredith Truax
Alessia Cara is surely the hottest topic of discussion in music this week. Wednesday night, the 19-year-old R&B starlet made her television debut on The Tonight Show. Alessia's single Here has been all the rage since it was released in April.
Alessia has been flying under the radar for some years now. She made a YouTube account back in 2010, and has been uploading covers ever since. Now, with an impressive 43k+ subscription tally and over 2 million views on her channel, her bio still adorably reads, "I'm Alessia and I sing songs that I like and hope you like them too. I sing in my closet... and occasionally my bathroom." It is this kind of innocence and simple pleasure in singing that makes Alessia seem totally organic, and so refreshingly untainted by the music industry.
That being said, she has still maintained her adorable quirkiness and un-processed sound throughout her impressively fast development in the music world. At only 18, she signed with EP Entertainment and Def Jam Records, and from there released the single Here.
If you're into alternative R&B, you may have already heard Here in an 8tracks or Spotify playlist, mixed in amongst contemporaries such as The Weeknd, Jhene Aiko, and Banks. Alessia's incredibly mature voice and soulful range allows her to easily glide in the ranks of today's most popular R&B and indie pop artists. She has noted that a few of her musical influences are Ed Sheeran, Amy Winehouse, and Drake. This uncommon trio of influence combines with her stunning creative instincts to make Alessia's sound fresh, bluesy, infectiously catchy, and laced with what could only be the product of an old soul. This unique sound and often autobiographical lyrics cause her to stand out in a very competitive crowd. On her Def Jam artist page, she explains the meaning behind Here:
It's a party song, but really it's the complete opposite of a party song. It's absolutely me; it shouts out the person in the corner of the party, looking around uncomfortably. I feel like this song narrates what the wallflower is thinking. - Alessia Cara, DefJam.com
Co-written by Sebastian Kole, the lyrics also highlight Alessia's disinterest for the tiresome mundanity of the teenage party scene. Alessia unapologetically sings of her distaste for such asinine activities: "Excuse me if I seem a little unimpressed by this / An antisocial pessimist, but usually I don't mess with this." This further speaks to Alessia's level of maturity; not many teenagers are aware enough to make social commentary on the illusionary element of party culture so many mindlessly participate in. She incorporates her frustration with meaningless interaction and experience into the message she wants to convey through her music. In an interview with Pitchfork she says,
I told myself that if I was going to be given a voice, I might as well say something worth listening to and not just feed people stupidity. - Alessia Cara, Pitchfork
As if there were a limit to Alessia's artistry, she also plays piano, guitar, and ukulele, which she showcases in her many YouTube covers, as well as a cover of Taylor Swift's Bad Blood (including Kendrick Lamar's verse, of course), which she performed for BBC Radio 1's Piano Sessions.
On top of her various media appearances, Alessia is doing a few performances across the US and one in London. For a full list of dates, and links to tickets, click here.
She may be young, but Alessia Cara will be making huge waves in the music world very soon. Her first multi-track release, an EP called Four Pink Walls, is due at the end of August. Once you hear Alessia's voice, you'll be chomping at the bit for more.
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