We haven’t even made it to the end of January yet and already we have our very first pop crisis.
Who is the one causing turmoil a mere 20 odd days into 2016? That would be the painfully reluctant next-big-popstar Miss Tinashe.
Tinashe is so close to becoming music’s next big star but seems to be taking 2 steps back every time she teases fans with tracks from her upcoming sophomore album ‘Joyride’. And rather than showing growth and development as an artist she seems to be stuck in a battle between maintaining her signature sound while wanting to appeal to a wider mainstream audience.
Tinashe is no naive newbie to the music industry, don’t get it twisted. She has been on her musical come up for years releasing acclaimed mixtapes for years. Only in 2014 did she release her debut album ‘Aquarius’ which was led by absolute banger ‘2 On’. The tracks that followed , ‘Feels Like Vegas’ and ‘All Hands on Deck’ showed that all signs pointed to major pop stardom. The latter was even endorsed by Kanye West via Twitter.
She spent the summer of 2015 on tour with Nicki Minaj on her ‘The Pink Print’ tour and it was a great way to get Tinashe’s name out there to the masses- the Pop masses. Tinashe then went on tour with Katy Perry on her never ending Prismatic World Tour- again this was a stroke of genius both on her and her management’s team. It really showed that they were pushing Tinashe into the mainstream and getting exposure that would help her make that inevitable crossover into a Popstar. Tinashe even confirmed herself that she was working with Max Martin for her next album.
Tinashe’s inauguration into Pop was imminent.
It then came as a massive surprise that the first new music we hear from Tinashe supporting this sophomore album is a ‘vibey’ R&B track called ‘Party Favours’ featuring Young Thug. It wasn’t a bad song by any stretch but considering the agenda this time round is to propel her into the pop stratosphere it just seemed a bit miss-step. Also, with the theme of the song being about the glorification of drugs and alcohol it had zero chance of making it to radio.
It later turns out that Tinashe leaked ‘Party Favours’ herself via her Soundcloud to add pressure to her label who she said ‘weren’t doing anything’ in aid of promoting ‘Joyride’. This does not look good, she is already having issues with her label over this album and it hasn’t even come out yet?
The rush release of ‘Party Favours’ kicks her label into motion and Tinashe releases the firs official single from ‘Joyride’ titled ‘Player’ featuring Chris Brown. Again, not a bad song but I can’t help but feel it was rushed- the song starts off slow, then going into a super fast chorus then stays mid-tempo throughout. All in all, it just didn’t work.
Due to the underperformance of ‘Player’ the album was pushed back to ‘early 2016’ which we all know translates into ‘we’re not releasing this album until we get a hit’. It is no secret here that Tinashe and her team’s goal this time round is to ‘get a number 1 single’ as quoted by Tinashe herself. And she knows the way to do this is by incorporating huge pop hooks and crafting uptempo bangers.
With the first two tracks from ‘Joyride’ making no impact surely it’s a case of third time lucky? Not quite. This week Tinashe released to Soundcloud another song to support the ‘Joyride’ era and what did we get? ANOTHER vibey stoner jam in the same vein as ‘Party Favours’ titled ‘Energy’ which features Juicy J with no sign of any songs that can truly help Tinashe crossover to the mainstream market. (Side note; why so many features?!)
WHAT IS TINASHE DOING?!?!?
Tinashe is too talented and oozing with untapped potential to be sabotaging herself in this fashion. I am all for Tinashe marrying the sound of her mixtapes with a more crossover appeal but she already did on her debut album. It is time now to step it up a gear and deliver what you set out to and give us a pop BANGER which will get even the most casual music listener to know your name and wonder more about you.
What makes it worse is that she has worked with the mastermind behind some of the greatest pop songs of the past 20 years, Max Martin, and still is yet to release any of the music they worked on together. But then I wonder if this is really her or her management because relations are already strained between the two parties which is never good.
Tinashe has already dabbled in pop with her features with Nick Jonas on ‘Jealous’ which drew acclaim from critics and listeners alike and is currently featured alongside Chance, The Rapper on Snakehips’ ‘All My Friends’. But when it comes to her own music for her album she continues to stick to her tried and tested sound.
This is frustrating because I am a fan of Tinashe, I adored her mixtapes and loved her debut album and she has the potential to be hugely successful and become a huge popstar but she seems annoyingly reluctant to even explore that avenue. Her most ardent fans have said on blogs that they would much rather her stick to this vibey, stoner, ‘Wait, what did I drink last night? Where am I?’ type sound but they’re not seeing the bigger picture here; Tinashe can sing, she can dance (she is professionally trained) and she can act having appeared on a few television sitcoms. As far as popstars go she is cooked all the way through, golden on the top and is ready to come out of the oven for the world to see.
TInashe doesn’t have to completely change her sound and risk alienating her core group of fans- she just needs to be willing to change it up a bit- dabble in a more radio friendly sound and open herself up to a wider audience. Nicki Minaj did it with ‘Superbass’- Why does Tinashe refuse to have her ‘Superbass’ moment?!
I have tickets to see Tinashe during the European leg of her ‘Joyride’ tour in May and I hope for her sake that by then Tinashe has released something that can properly support this era .And by then the wheels on this Joyride are in full motion because right now every time I hear a new Tinashe song she is taking 2 steps back and doing herself a massive disservice.
I really don’t want to have to shout the entire Tyra Banks ‘we were all rooting for you’ speech whilst I’m in the crowd and she’s on stage but if things continue the way they currently are then I may have to.