Weekly Music Commentary is back after a long month off. Of course, much has changed about the website, especially the overall look. However, much of what brought many of you to the site has not changed at all. Each week you can enjoy a post about a well-known musical artist, or one on the rise. The site will offer a little bit more news, videos, current album features, and easy interaction via social media.
During the hiatus I got a chance to listen to a lot of music, and go back and review several past commentaries. As I read, I noticed I really became an advocate for the new musician, and the music they create today. Interestingly, I did originally want to become a defender of new music; the position seemed to just develop naturally. I am not a young person, nor am I considered old. My generation saw the beginning and popularization of hip hop and rap music, as well as the end of the disco era. I have also seen the changes in rock, country and jazz music. The entire world now embraces every music genre, and many times fans have enjoyed music that crosses genre lines. Along with all the changes has come a sharpening of musical opinions. Persons seem to enjoy a particular style or period of music, and detest another. Too many good artists are overlooked because fans incorrectly think that all new music artists are the same.
Throughout the month off I was thinking about the plight of new artists as a popular song continued to really enjoy a great deal of airplay on radio stations around the US. Alessia Cara’s debut “Here” has thrust her onto the big stage of popular music quickly. Yes, she is a new artist who many music fans have discovered and most likely will enjoy for years. Is there an even larger audience of people who might enjoy her music? Good question. First, let’s start with an introduction to the young artist, and then we’ll talk about her possible larger audience.
Alessia Caracciolo , known as Alessia Cara, was born in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, a city just outside Toronto, where she attended Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School. She is of Italian descent from Calabria; her father was born in Canada, to Italian parents, and her mother is an Italian immigrant. As a child, she wrote poetry and did theatre. At the age of 10 she began playing guitar and taught herself how to play various songs. At the age of 13 she began her own YouTube channel where she posted covers of songs that she performed.
I first learned about Alessia early last year through social media. I started to take a listen to the videos published by the young artist on YouTube, and then realized she would soon release music on the Def Jam label. I am introduced to various artists by way of social media, and many times I notice something special that moves me to prepare to feature them on Weekly Music Commentary. This is exactly what happened with Alessia Cara, as I knew right away that she would be a great artist to feature. Little did I know that her debut single would become a sleeper hit of 2015. Yet, here we are staring at a budding superstar.
Nevertheless, as “Here” continued its rise throughout the summer and fall months of last year, Alessia Cara had not become a household name among older music listeners. Perhaps because many had thrown her into a figurative bucket with all other young artists. During my hiatus I read an article that questioned the intellectual depth of today’s popular songs. I read on as the author used a song by an extremely popular artist today as an example. I will not name the artist or the song because all music is either liked or disliked, and that is left to the discretion of the listener. However, the author used this one particular song as the measuring stick to show the problem with today’s songs. That was a bold assertion, but one that most certainly would steer us away from a great deal of music today. Yes, even the music of Alessia Cara.
Perhaps all music listeners who possess a critical ear should not only listen to the song “Here”, but also listen to the meaning of the song. It might be good to assess the message the songwriters are trying to convey to the music fan. “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.” Just take a moment and read just a sample of the lyrics from “Here”. “I’m sorry if I seem uninterested / Or I’m not listenin’, or 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.” The subject matter is one most of us can understand, but the use of words and imagery are brilliant.
Alessia Cara’s bio ends with a statement that is the best identification of the young artist as we know her today. It says, “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.” Many industry insiders tend to agree that what we are seeing and hearing is not another “one hit wonder.” Most feel that there will be a lot more music from this talented, nineteen year old artist. How does Alessia Cara feel about all of this? “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 Kole, 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.”
In closing I think that Alessia Cara is the kind of artist who will write and deliver a lot more music. I also have faith that many older music fans will find her and grow to appreciate her music. How big of a star will Alessia Cara become? I really don’t know. However, I know that she is not just like all other young artists. They are all different. It’s up to each of us to examine the music and discover the differences. Don’t be a wallflower at this Alessia Cara music party!