March 27, 2017

Spinning Singles: Tinashe, “Flame”

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With the best assets of a dancer, model, songwriter and singer wrapped into one package, Tinashe has the makings of a superstar. From her dazzling performances on tour to her collection of mixtapes and albums, the star potential is evident in everything in which she partakes. After being enchanted by her feature on Snakehips’ “All My Friends,” I’ve held the belief that she’s one of the most talented artists in the business. And yet, not everyone shares my romanticized view of the songstress. Maybe you vaguely remember her face, never heard of her before, or worse, forgot that she even exists. There’s a gap between her talent and her popularity, making her musical career thus far an unfortunate conundrum.

Despite a series of releases over the past two years, she hasn’t succeeded in creating a hit since 2014’s “2 On.” Her 2016 summer single “Superlove,” despite its catchy lyrics and seductive music video, never garnered the recognition that it deserved. The digital album Nightride received solid acclaim from critics, but overall underperformed on the charts, peaking at 89 on the Billboard 200. Of course, the charts don’t tell everything; in the way that one test score doesn’t necessarily tell how smart you are, an artist’s peak on a chart isn’t always the best indicator of their quality of sound.Though she’s trying her best to capture the attention of a larger audience, she continuously comes up short. Hopefully the shortcomings will end with the release of her latest single, “Flame.”

The song has the mixture of a heartfelt hook and an infectious bridge that, in a sensible world, would easily make it at least a short-term hit. Tinashe doesn’t deviate heavily from her past work, matching her subtly soulful voice with upbeat tempos throughout “Flame”. The lyrics “C’mon, tell me that you’ve still got the flame for me / And tell me that you still want to stay, don’t leave” may seem generic, but in an eerie way mirror her relationship to the listeners. It’s the cry of a pop star fading before she becomes a mainstream artist, desperately holding on to the fans that she has while exposing herself to a wider audience.

Whether or not “Flame” succeeds will be an indicator of Tinashe’s future in the industry. It’s possible that the lack of substantial promotion for her singles, and her latest digital album Nightride, is what continues to prevent her mainstream breakthrough. It’s also possible that people just don’t give her enough of a chance, simply marking her off as ‘just a pretty face’ after listening to a couple of her songs. Maybe it’s just that the way that the music business is set up makes it difficult for multiple female artists to exist. I don’t have the answers. What I do have is faith that Tinashe’s next album, Joyride, will deliver more of the enchanting vocals that first made me want to hear more.


Jonvi Rollins is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]