There’s a new breed of pop star seizing hold of the world’s airwaves and online—more accurately, a conscious-pop star who’s set to subversively top charts and sway hearts and minds. This enigma embodied is 18-year-old Canadian-Italian Alessia Cara, who’s riding the refrains of her ironic anthem, “Here.” Premiered by The Fader, “Here” garnered over 500,000 total streams in its first week, resounding praise for its freshness and insight.
“Here” is unapologetically autobiographical: “‘Here’ is a true story,” Alessia confesses. “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.”
Co-written by Sebastian Kole, “Here” manages to be both cheeky and cautionary. It’s authored from the perspective of an unenthusiastic partygoer who’s counting the minutes till it’s time to leave. “Here” takes aim at mindless revelry and is peppered with lines that touch everyone’s hidden introvert: “I’m sorry if I seem uninterested / Oh I’m not listenin’, oh I’m indifferent / Truly I ain’t got no business here” and “Excuse me if I seem a little unimpressed with this / An antisocial pessimist, but usually I don’t mess with this” and “Really I would rather be at home all by myself / Not in this room with people who don’t even care about my well being.”
Powerful stuff from a teenage voice; in fact, that’s powerful stuff from anyone who’s ever put pen to pad in name of art. And Alessia’s mature pen game is matched by her larger-than-life voice; she’s dazzlingly chameleon-like, boasting the kind of versatility that makes Rihanna such a force. In short, Alessia has cause to be confident. But she’s still the bashful, small-town girl even in the big city: “You don’t think you’re ever going to end up here from Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Instead, you think, ‘Who’s going to see me?’ I can’t wrap my head around everything that’s happened: the chemistry with Sebastian, the producers, the label. Def Jam got what I am trying to do: I want my music to be cool and reflective of my influences –Drake, Amy Winehouse, Ed Sheeran– but still new. Def Jam gave me the opportunity to say something meaningful and positive without being preachy. I didn’t expect everything to feel so natural and organic. And I can’t believe how quickly it’s going.”
Alessia is equal parts fresh face, old soul, newcomer, and lifer. She’s going, quickly. Now it’s up to the rest of the world to catch up and catch on.