Alessia Cara Gives Mixed Advice About Finding One’s Way in Love and Life
Artists these days tend to write heavily about themselves and their own experiences, especially as they are affected by the massive changes brought on by the Internet and social media. Those in their late teens and early 20’s often reflect on the isolation, disinterest, and many other negative traits that occur in the online world and influence how they interact within offline (real-life) spaces. With her first album Know-It-All, released in 2015, Alessia Cara, a Canadian pop artist, takes this form to a new level. She also brings the angst of transition from adolescence to early adulthood in her upbeat hit “Seventeen,” and oh of course dropping in occasional encouragements to little girls who are bombarded by these sorts of messages. She admits herself, on her second album The Pains Of Growing (2018) that “Ms. Know-It-All can’t take her own advice”, a play on the first album’s title and a tacit understanding that people’s responses to any life event are likely to be muddled at best. I think few manage to capture the feeling of confusion that occurs when passing through that period of physical and emotional transition as well as Cara does. As an example, her song “Here” is a rambling question about why she has attended a party simply to fit in, when she feels so clearly out of place there and can barely participate in the activities going on around her. Probably more of us than will easily admit it can relate to this sentiment. I for one try to join such social events, but as the music played and the beat’s tempo shifts while Cara almost just speaks words to create that feeling of isolation and a strong desire to escape, I was almost overcome with a need to move on to the next track. Such was the strength of my own reflections on that feeling of a loss of control. She also has a song called “Nintendo Game”, wherein she plays with the listener’s mind by shifting beats, creating the feeling that they are playing with love as if it is a game, and no one will win. But my favorite track on her initial album is “Scars to Your Beautiful,” where in addition to hearing her fuller vocal range, she advises those (particularly women) who are struggling with body image to take pride in both their internal and external beauty, a particularly relevant message in this hyper-connected world.