Tate McRae is carving out her own space in the pop sphere

Words by Kate Streader

We take a look at the new pop sensation ahead of her album release.

Canadian singer/songwriter Tate McRae had her first brush with fame as a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance when she was just 13. Five years on, she’s become a regular on stage, only now she’s got a mic in her hand. 

Her music career took off in 2019 after her single ‘One Day’ caught the attention of RCA Records on YouTube. A year later, the label had brokered her debut EP, All the Things I Never Said

Get better acquainted with our favourite artists at FJ’s Music section.

Not even COVID could extinguish Tate’s blaze of glory. She’s collected a slate of accolades over the past few years, including being named one of YouTube’s Artists on the Rise, landing on Forbes30 Under 30 list and People Magazine’s One’s To Watch list, and being nominated for a bunch of awards. 

She’s also collaborated with the likes of Khalid, on their track ‘Working’, and DJ Regard and Troye Sivan for the dance hit, ‘You’. Not bad for an 18-year-old musician who hasn’t even released her first album yet. 

So how did Tate go from singing in her bedroom to performing on some of America’s most prestigious music stages in just two years? Well, the internet had a lot to do with it. Not only was Tate somewhat of a phenomenon on YouTube, but she’s earned a huge following on TikTok – largely thanks to her 2020 hit ‘You Broke Me First’

The track takes inspiration from the broody yet catchy balladry of Billie Eilish, with a pinch of Lana Del Rey sprinkled into the mix. It’s stripped back, with minimalist, swelling beats sitting behind punchy lyrics, delivered with a nonchalant, cool-girl effortlessness.  

Since then, there’s been a steady trickle of singles and another EP, Too Young To Be Sad, in anticipation of Tate’s debut album, I Used To Think I Could Fly, due for release on Friday May 27. 

The impending album sees Tate continuing to look to Billie Eilish for inspiration, with the singer also noting Frank Ocean and The Weeknd as reference points.

So far, we’ve heard a few snippets of the album in the form of singles ‘Chaotic’, ‘She’s All I Wanna Be’, ‘Feel Like Shit’, and ‘What Would You Do?’. The four tracks suggest the album will explore various musical moods and demonstrate Tate’s range as an artist. 

‘She’s All I Wanna Be’ feels like a noughties pop-punk anthem infused with an Olivia Rodrigo style of contemporary pop. It very much feels like 2022’s answer to emo, except now it’s what the cool kids listen to.

‘What Would You Do?’ carries a similar energy, with more of an Avril Lavigne kind of attitude – albeit a bit more sugary sweet, sonically. ‘Feel Like Shit’ and ‘Chaotic’ are much more subdued, offering the kind of heartbroken balladry that garnered Tate success with ‘You Broke Me First’.

On the songwriting side, it’s no wonder Tate has been such an instant hit. Her music is raw, relatable, and unflinching. It’s like someone is singing straight from your high school diary, although it’s much more eloquent. 

And although Tate takes influence from her peers and her music has an air of nostalgia that brings to mind an array of comparisons, it’s obvious she’s carving out her own space in the pop sphere and isn’t scared to experiment with her sound. 

Already a breakout success and with a promising debut album around the corner, it’s safe to say this is just the beginning for Tate McRae.

To discover more of Tate McRae’s music, head here.

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