Tate McRae is climbing the music charts and heading for stardom. The Canadian singer and dancer, 20, released her second studio album, Think Later, on Friday, and listeners are eager to hear what she’ll bring to the table.
From the somber vocals of her earlier work to the attitude-fueled jams of her 2023 singles “Greedy” and “Exes,” the rising pop star is is making waves with her ear-catching tunes and mind-blowing dance moves that are reminiscent of the pop stars that came before her, like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
She may be poised for stardom at age 20, but McRae started her pursuit of musical success years ago. A native of Calgary, Canada, she gained celebrity in 2016 at just 12 years old for her dance skills during Season 13 of the popular dance competition So You Think You Can Dance. She made it to the finals in the show, but it was around that same time she landed a coveted spot dancing with Justin Bieber during a performance of his song “Children” during the Calgary stop of his “Purpose World Tour.”
McRae also made a name for herself by posting her music on social media. Her 2017 song, “One Day,” was popular on YouTube and TikTok and managed to score the attention of record companies. She signed a deal with RCA and took off for Los Angeles at age 17 with her mom to devote herself to her career. It was a necessary transition, because as McRae said she felt she didn’t fit in back home in Calgary.
She recently told the Los Angeles Times that pursuing her passions made her feel like an outlier at home. “We got a lot of strange looks when I first started traveling for dance and putting myself out there,” she said. Adjusting to L.A. also proved challenging. McRae said that she “looked put together on the outside, but I was really confused and lost.”
McRae had a modest hit in 2020 with “You Broke Me First.” On streaming services, she made inroads, ranking as the most-streamed female EP of 2021 on Spotify. But it was the release of her 2022 debut album, I Used to Think I Could Fly, hit No. 13 on the Billboard 200. Still, she faced criticism, citing the intense level of scrutiny thrown at young women.
McRae told Billboard in November that I Used to Think I Could Fly marked “a very big internal battle for me. I was so confused with who I was as a person.”
With her second album, McRae is ready to channel the confidence of the pop music she was raised on, leading to comparisons with Spears and Ariana Grande.
Where have I seen her before?
This year, McRae put out rhythmic, dance-friendly singles known for their strong attitude and upbeat nature. “Exes,” was written in 30 minutes, and, as she told People, it was the “the Hail Mary of the album.” But it was the song’s music video, which featured McRae grinding in a boxing ring, that took inspiration from pop stars before her, like Spears and Aguilera, who famously gyrated in a boxing ring in the video for 2002’s “Dirrty.” McRae explained she was “taking inspiration from the greats.”
Her single “Greedy,” and its complementary music video, which features McRae in a skating rink driving a Zamboni and busting a move in hockey pads, went Top 10 on Billboard Hot 100. Her performance at the Billboard Music Awards in November also generated buzz.
When McRae took the stage as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on Nov. 18, she quickly made waves that surpassed the episode’s host, Jason Momoa.
Her new album
Ready to share the music that blends her ethereal vocal abilities with the capacity for complex choreography, McRae will support Think Later in 2024 with a world tour that kicks off in Dublin.
Her fans, who call themselves Tater Tots, are sounding off on social media.
Early reviews on the new album vary. NME said the album is “the work of an artist finally honing their identity, dancing and sparkling all the way.”