Alessia Cara and Celebrating The Wild Things
Alessia Cara, if you don’t already know, is, whether it realises it or not, one of the music industry’s biggest artists. She is a force majeure, at the age of 19 she has already captured an incredible number of hearts and minds across the globe, across ages, spreading her message of positivity, of independence, and above all, of celebrating the ‘Wild Things’. It is this that makes her such a soon-to-be-crucial member of the industry. Her debut album Know-It-All released worldwide today (Released late last year in America and Canada) is a collection of songs that show that ‘Wild Things’ and that people who love ‘Wild Things’ can make music that is still marketable. A statement that many should already know, but that so little feel confident to admit.
I’ve wanted to write about Alessia for quite a while because I really do believe she represents this growing community within the industry that is creating such fantastic, and essential music. Yet I didn’t know how to approach an article on her at first, I knew what I wanted to say but I couldn’t put a name to it. It wasn’t until just the other day when Alessia released the video for Wild Things that it clicked. A word I previously may have been inclined to use is ‘Outcast’ but as I’ve grown up, in many ways a typical ‘outcast’ myself, I have realised that the word or the meaning it represents doesn’t exist. No-one is a literal ‘outcast’, they are an ‘in-cast’ if there is such a thing, they are not out of a group, but rather in a different group. As Alessia sings in ‘Wild Things’:
“I lose my balance on these eggshells you tell me to tread, I’d rather be a wild one instead […] the cool kids aren’t cool to me, they’re not cooler than we are”
Right up until I came to Uni the idea of ‘outcasts’ and ‘cool kids’ was as imprinted into my mind as my ABC’s. This group was cool, this group wasn’t, and I was generally in a group I saw as not being too cool, and as a young teenager for quite some time it used to bother me now and again. This concept of coolness floated around constantly, perfect body, perfect mind, perfect everything. It’s not until I had given myself a chance to look metaphorically and literally in the mirror, and decide for myself who I was, away from anyone else’s terms that I realised how subjective and futile these labels are. We all have a percentage of us that is a ‘Wild Thing’ you know? Someone that rebels against the thoughts of others, against the restricting boxes people like to categorise you in and the beliefs many of us are manipulated into believing. As a Wild Thing you enjoy what you enjoy, you are what you are, you love who you love, and you live your life how you should, as yourself.
The Wild Things video itself opens in what looks like the same location as her ‘I’m yours’ video with her friends (also seen in her ‘here’ video) She starts the video with an insightful explanation of her term:
“To me where the wild things are is a place that exists in our minds, it’s a place of liberty and shamelessness, it can take a split second or a lifetime to find it but once you do, you’ll be free”
This then leads us into a video of freedom and of self-expression. A mixture of fun, and friendship that displays a slightly different image to that of many other music videos. An image of colour, difference and an overriding sense of refusing to be belittled by other people’s definitions. In the same way that the video starts with Alessia on her own, gradually being joined by friends, the end sees her gradually saying goodbye to each friend until we face Alessia looking at the camera before walking off. All narrated by a beautifully timed and poetic continuation of her explanation from the beginning:
“There’s a wild thing that exists in all of us, it lives in our passions, in the people we love, and our subconscious thoughts, our beliefs, it’s even made a home in the darkest parts of us, but we can’t be scared of it, we have to become it.”
It’s hard to pick a favourite song, and in some ways maybe we’re not meant to. For me Wild Things is one of the most important songs, because it makes us realise how well connected each song from the album is. Know-It-All is just what an album should be, a narrative, a journey from beginning to end of passions, emotions, and of self-empowerment. One of the albums most endearing qualities is its poetic nature, something I feel a lot of music has been missing, the poetry that many songs of the past used to contain. Much soul and RnB even of the naughties era contained it, and Alessia brings truth and relatability within this poetic framework to her new RnB infused pop sound.
Alessia’s beginnings are in YouTube, from her early teens she uploaded covers, and after growing popularity she created a good following. There is something I’ve always noticed with musicians whose careers started in YouTube. Passion and bravery. In order to survive on YouTube and to grow in popularity is almost like being further into the industry and feeling the pressure of it, while still needing an incredible amount of patience, independence and love. So with each YouTuber entering the music industry seems to come with them a level of dedication and resistance to wrongful marketing that some (and I stress SOME) direct musicians lack.
Each song from the album is well written, strongly performed and gives off a great sense of honesty. The aforementioned ‘Wild Things’ promoting love to oneself, to ones passions whatever they be. ‘Stone’ a call out for a “stone” of support in a “world uncertain”. ‘Scars To Your Beautiful’: one of the albums greatest, detailing a highly on point and relevant look at societies troubles with insecurity caused by photoshopped and unrealistic images. Each of them is perfect on their own but blends even greater when listened as a story in relation to the others.
If you haven’t already, go out and buy the album! It’ll be worth it.
The quote of the week this week is one of my favourite lyrics from the album:
“So I’m human after all, I’m not your expectations, but play, rest, repeat, that’s what they ask of me, just stick to this melody and stay between the lines but I’ll play what’s best for me” – Alessia Cara (My Song)