Written by Marissa Koh
From Dance Moms sensation to modern-day pop princess, Calgary native Tate McRae has swept the music and media scene with the much anticipated release of her sophomore album Think Later.
Despite her seemingly out-of-nowhere takeover of the pop mainstream, McRae is not a stranger to the industry. The 20-year-old has been singing and songwriting for years, sharing stripped-down performances of original songs on her YouTube channel since 2017. In this series coined “Create with Tate,” it was one song in particular that kickstarted the trajectory of her music career. “You Broke Me First”—a solemn, emotionally-vulnerable pop piano ballad that peaked at #17 on the Billboard U.S. Hot 100 and spent 38 weeks on the chart.
“You Broke Me First,” “Rubberband,” along with her freshman album I Used To Think I Could Fly solidified McRae’s trademark moody, heartbreak girl reputation. After an 11 month hiatus, the release of Think Later established not just her return, but her rebirth.
In an interview with Genius, McRae shared insights into her new sound: “I had to snap into a mentality of not being so vulnerable and so honest [and show that] there’s a whole different side of my personality that the entire world has no idea about.” Think Later, as a collective anthology, serves as a comprehensive snapshot into McRae’s personal and musical renaissance.
Perhaps the album’s most popular song is “greedy,” co-written by industry powerhouses Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, Amy Allen, and producer Jasper Harris. The song’s immense popularity did not happen by chance, but instead, by months of relentless teasing and promotion on the singer’s TikTok page. To date, the “greedy” audio has been featured in 1.8 million videos. Characterized by early 2000s pop, taking inspiration from Timbaland and showing hints of Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous,” McRae and the “greedy” team were on a mission to produce the ultimate sassy, girl-anthem dance track. This vision, for McRae, checked both artistic and personal goals. As a competitive dancer in her childhood, McRae long wished to mesh her dancing and singing pursuits—“greedy” is her success story.
Amidst her rebranding mission, McRae still pays homage to her well-known vulnerable side on Think Later with songs like “grave” and “stay done.” Honing in on familiar themes of heartbreak, grief, and conflict, the two tracks rely heavily on lyricism to paint vivid narratives of realizing fatal flaws in relationships and illustrating their painful endings. Compared to the more high energy, dance-inspired tracks on the album, “grave” and “stay done” are stripped piano and guitar ballads—emphasizing their emotionally charged sentiments.
With Think Later’s beaming reviews and overwhelming success only a month after its release, it is safe to say McRae has come a long way from her YouTube days. From bedroom pop to Billboard’s top, be prepared for Tate McRae to be a household name for years to come.