Alessia Cara
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Alessia Cara: Not Another YouTube Sensation

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“I wish I could freeze the time at seventeen.”

Up-and-coming R&B artist, Alessia Cara, definitely took the words out of my mouth. If you think about it, don’t we all wish we could freeze the time at seventeen? Or just freeze the time at a certain moment in our life? The 19-year-old singer and songwriter certainly hits the right notes, pun intended, with her witty, straightforward and extremely relatable lyrics in her EP “Four Pink Walls”.

I was bored one Sunday and came across this cute teenage girl singing a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” on YouTube. She was playing the guitar and there was something about her rendition of the song that made me click Google her. Eventually, I found a copy of her album and listened to all five songs. That’s when I got hooked.  You know how sometimes you like an artist but not all of the songs on their album are ‘worth listening to’? Well, Alessia Cara isn’t that artist. All five songs are definitely worthy of your time.

Her catchy debut single “Here” talks about something that we could all probably relate to: being (and feeling) alone in a party full of people. We’ve all been there. We’ve all gone through the awkward puberty stage where we basically just follow our friends around and try to blend in the crowd. During her live performance of the viral hit at “On Air with Ryan Seacrest”, she shared a little story on how she came up with this song.  

“I wrote it before I was signed. I had a studio session one day. And a typical studio session is like, okay, sit in with the producers and my writers and just talk about my life and see what we’re going to write about that day. And they were just like “What do you want to write about?” And all I kept thinking was, thinking back to this party that I’ve gone to the night before. And basically, what happened at this party was pure awkwardness, pure not-knowing-what-to-do-with-myself or not knowing how to talk to people – I just hated it. So I went home early. Actually, I called my mom to come pick me up. It was just awful. And I realized all the other parties that I’ve gone to was the same thing; it was just me feeling awkward and not knowing what to do with myself. So, I was like, this is what I want to write about.”

Of course, every artist out there would claim that they write their songs based on their personal experiences. What makes Alessia Cara stand out is the way she tells her story. She tells it as it is. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything or shower her lyrics with fancy metaphors. It’s genuine and candid. It’s pretty much the story of her life – of our lives – spiced up with some awesome beats, catchy melody and smooth rhythm. Listening to her songs is like skimming through my old diary and reliving every bittersweet memory. Her mellifluous and smooth voice helps me experience everything that she sings about vicariously. Her songs are not just head-bobbing and foot-tapping; they make you feel like you are the protagonist in every story.     

My personal favorite is her upbeat song “Seventeen”, where she sings about pieces of advice that she got from her parents, about life in general. Admit it. At one point in our lives, we’ve all been in a hurry to grow up. We wanted to experience ‘life’, as we know it.  And then it happened. We reached a turning point where there was no going back. That’s when we wished we could just stop and freeze time.

Like most young artists nowadays, she jumpstarted her singing career on YouTube. At the tender age of 13, she started posting videos of her covering other singers’ songs. It was a pretty simple set up; Alessia, her trusty guitar and her silvery voice. No fancy location and no scripted and elaborate music video. She doesn’t need any of that. She got her big break when EP Entertainment and Def Jam Recordings finally noticed her awesomeness.

In addition to “Here” and “Seventeen”, her album also includes the track “Outlaws”, which according to her is “basically about being able to do anything for somebody”. The ‘unhappy’ love song, “I’m Yours”, which she wrote on a curb next to a garbage can, is about trying to “make room” for someone new in your life, despite being hurt in the past.  Alessia shared in her interview with MTV News that “Sometimes falling for someone isn't always that great. Sometimes you were fine the way you were, but you can't help it. I just wanted to play off that feeling: I was perfectly fine, why did you have to ruin it by being perfect and awesome?” Been there, done that.

Last but not the least is the head-bobbing “Four Pink Walls”, where Alessia showcased her rapping talent and proved to Def Jam Recordings just what a valuable asset she is. In the same interview with MTV News, she shared the story behind this very personal song.

“When you wake up in a different place every day, you forget where you are sometimes. I used to hate being in my room all the time, but now I wish I could just go back there, so I can just be normal for even a day. It's like bittersweet feelings.”

Nowadays, the music industry is filled with lots of auto-tuning and songs about butts, cheerleaders and other sexual innuendos. It’s quite refreshing that there is someone like Alessia Cara, a grounded and innocent artist, who sings with her heart and bares her soul into every song. Even the pop princess herself, Taylor Swift, was impressed by her spectacular cover of “Bad Blood”. If that’s not awesome enough, then I don’t know what is.

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