Monday, May 2nd, 2022

Tate McRae – She’s All I Wanna Be

Last set of blurbs before the debut drops…


Joshua Lu: Tate McRae moving on from her mopey pop radio ballad bait and releasing something legitimately tolerable is a nice surprise in 2022. Her verse on “You” proved that her voice and presence could be a positive if it had the right backdrop, and “All I Wanna Be” cements the fact. There’s nothing groundbreaking here — the pop punk energy could be bolstered, and the lyrics are nothing that you can’t predict just by seeing the title — but any improvement is welcome from this emerging pop girl.

William John: It motors along enough to induce your head into very subtle side to side movements, but “She’s All I Wanna Be” needs to lean further into the angst; the absence of bite makes it look like an Olivia Rodrigo single printed out while the toner’s running low.

Jonathan Bradley: Tate McRae’s voice covers the track like cling film: something to be wrapped around any music-shaped object while still not interacting with it in the slightest. In this case, the object is a compression-smudged hum made of guitars that don’t crunch that are produced like synths that don’t sparkle. It could be a polka for all that would affect McRae’s performance; I’m not convinced she at any point heard the rest of her own song.

Leah Isobel: The songwriting angle echoes “Jolene,” but with its queerness replaced by economic and gender anxiety, the result lands closer to “Who’s That Girl.” McRae doesn’t have Robyn’s grounded empathy, though. Her candyfloss voice drapes over and then disappears into the guitar attack, either self-actualizing or self-abnegating, depending on your state of mind. Grappling with confused, conflicting emotions through controlled performance, she gives theatre kid in the non-pejorative sense; I can dig it.

Alfred Soto: Harder, better, faster, stronger — “She’s All I Wanna Be” could be all those things and still sound meh. Tate McRae vocalizes as if through a bowl of clam chowder. 

Ian Mathers: Fifteen seconds in I could not stop myself from saying out loud “god I hate this vocal style” and my wife said with some intensity “I’m so fucking sick of it.” Nothing else about the song, lyrics, or performance overcomes that particular obstacle.

Thomas Inskeep: I just can’t with the heavy-duty vocal fry on display here; it sounds like McRae’s voice (such as it is) is stuck halfway down her throat. The song, a super-average pop-punk number, emphasis on the pop, does her no favors, either. This’ll probably be huge.

Al Varela: I’m worried about Tate McRae. I don’t want to believe she’s just a pawn for a label trying to recapture the magic of viral pop girls like Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo, but the songs she’s been putting out haven’t done a great job dispelling that presumption. “She’s all i wanna be” especially falls into this concern, as it came out a little too soon after “Good 4 U” took over the summer. And yet, I’m still kind of conflicted by this song. I know what it’s doing with this pop-rock instrumentation and bratty high school jealousy in the lyrics. Against all odds though, this song is kind of great? Fantastic, maybe! The production, as derivative as it is, is a blast to listen to, and there’s a tightness to the vocal melody that makes this especially sticky to the brain. Despite my praises for this though, I don’t think I quite love it or even like it all that much. It goes back to what I said at the beginning: It feels like Tate McRae is being used as a pawn to try and manufacture the next “viral star,” and as good as “She’s All I Wanna Be” sounds, Tate McRae doesn’t have the voice for it. There’s no real firepower in her voice, she’s not convincingly angry, and her tone is too mellow and neatly mixed to sell the messiness of the drama. Thus, an otherwise solid song is bogged down by a performer for reasons that aren’t her fault. It’s simply a mismatch. 

Reader average: [7] (1 vote)

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