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Press play, and let the magic of ‘THINK LATER’ by indeed ‘later than ever’ wonderkid, Tate McRae, seep into your auditory senses. It’s an album that’s riddled with lyrical prowess, vocal dexterity, and a raw narrative that sets Tate apart in the modern pop music landscape. The Calgary-born songstress is not one to shy away from expressing deeply personal experiences. She explores the nuances of heartbreak, self-discovery, and contextualizes this exploration within the chaos of teenage life, giving her lyrics a relatability that resonates with many.

Her hits like ‘cut my hair’, ‘run for the hills’, and ‘exes’, perch themselves on the precipice of introspective storytelling and mainstream pop. On the other end of the emotional spectrum, tracks like ‘messier’ and ‘plastic palm trees’ showcase Tate’s ability to seamlessly morph between haunting melancholy and upbeat optimism. The album noteworthy included heavy-hitters such as ‘greedy’ and ‘hurt my feelings’, incisive confessionals wrapped in infectious melodies. Then there’s ‘calgary’, a love letter to her hometown, tinged with subtle nostalgia and a quiet yearning.

There’s a kind of brave honesty to McRae’s lyricism, a willingness to strip down to her most vulnerable self – and in this vulnerability, she finds strength. By taking the reins of her narrative, she challenges the conventions of pop music, crafting an exclusive sound that’s as intricate as it is compelling. So, let’s get into it, track by track, here we are, breaking down the lyrics on ‘THINK LATER’ by Tate McRae.

1. cut my hair

This track sees McRae plotting an audacious reinvention, both visual and emotional. She’s metaphorically cutting her hair, shaking off outdated notions of herself, and stepping into a more honest, raw version. The lyrics are layered with an assertive sense of self-discovery and defiance, underlined with an almost rebellious desire to break free from the cocoon of past relationships and expectations.

With a hook as sharp as a pair of salon shears, McRae dishes out a gut-punch to an ex loved one and his new flame, affirming her worth and signalling her readiness to move on. “cut my hair” offers a peek into the world of a determined young woman, tackling heartbreak with sass. It’s a powerful and relatable anthem, unashamedly embracing vulnerability while also exuding a bracing amount of confidence.

2. greedy

The song is an audacious display of self-confidence and assertiveness, with McRae asserting her worth and refusing to compromise herself for the whims of others. Her signature blend of raw honesty and youthful sarcasm is beautifully braided into the lyrics as she deftly addresses the presumption of a potential suitor who’s trying to figure her out. The narrative unexpectedly swings between spirited self-appreciation and lofty declarations of not being easy to know.

The lyrical content is a master class in pushing back against being pigeonholed or underestimated. McRae uses the song to assert her desirability and self-respect. However, she also cleverly highlights the fact that getting to truly know her—understanding the depth beneath the surface—won’t be a walk in the park. It’s a tactful way of re-establishing power dynamics, surely resonating with Gen Z listeners grappling with similar issues. Ultimately, McRae delivers a zesty lyrical cocktail that’s part self-love anthem, part cautionary tale and wholly assertive messaging.

3. run for the hills

McRae plays the tortured lover, trapped in a whirlwind of addictive but hurtful relationships. Late-night trysts, passionate arguments, and the tantalizing thrill of love gone awry all spill out from her lyrics. The track flawlessly captures the tempest of a bad romance: intoxicating, exhilarating, and yet ultimately doomed.

McRae doesn’t shy away from laying bare her vulnerabilities, either. Obsession, longing for attention, and bending her rules to accommodate a toxic partner — it’s all there in her raw and honest lyrics. The chorus slashes right through your heart, underscoring the crux of the problem: a relationship that’s never going to evolve into something meaningful. Instead, it’s just a rollercoaster of emotions tearing her apart. The recurring motif of running for the hills symbolizes her inner voice, warning her to escape this destructive cycle, an all-too-familiar dilemma in the labyrinth of love.

4. hurt my feelings

Tate McRae, Canada’s pop prodigy, paints a picture of dual heartache – yearning for someone who is in love with another. She was not naive, knowing she “should’ve known better”, but nevertheless, and perhaps all too humanly, she falls. The repetitive “oh, na-na-na-na” affords the track an undeniable catchiness, yet the underlying regret persists. McRae’s lyrics speak to the suffering of seeking attention from someone who’s already taken and the internal conflict between wanting to step back but being irresistibly drawn in.

McRae articulates the complex emotions associated with unfulfilled love, demonstrating a profound grasp on pop narrative at a young age. Her capacity to weave complex feelings into digestible pop confections ensures the song’s replay value, despite its melancholic undertones. Her daring thoughts of rebelliously showing up at this boy’s house without warning, hoping to win him back, encapsulate the desperation and deep-seated feelings of longing wrapped in this tune.

5. grave

The tune is a brave confrontation of unrequited love, an echo chamber of heartbreak where the prospect of changing someone’s feelings towards you is a hopeless quest. McRae’s prevailing theme of too much empathy, of holding onto grudges like she once held the person, paints a poignant picture of emotional inertia. The recurring imagery of a grave signifies the depth of her emotional turmoil and the futility of efforts to salvage a relationship that’s already gone.

This power ballad is a savvy juxtaposition of lyrics that reflect a sense of loss with the upbeat, catchy pop sound that is McRae’s signature. There’s a resounding admission here that you can’t make someone want you the way you want them, and the sad reality is they may never even admit how much they once had you. “Grave” is a lament, a struggle to let go, and McRae’s distinct, tender vocal delivery hits home, resonating deeply with anyone who’s ever been trapped in the trenches of unreciprocated love.

6. stay done

McRae’s lyricism in the track is par excellence, detailing the dichotomous battle between the logical decision to end a toxic relationship and the emotional pull that prevents the final cut. The lyrics oscillate between frustration and the despondency of letting go, a dance many of us are all too familiar with. This track sees McRae acknowledge the love that once was, but also her ex-partner’s transgressions, effectively spotlighting why their relationship was doomed from the start. The resignation and repetitive chant of ‘I just can’t stay done with you’ underlines the magnetic pull of old love, and the inertia inherent in moving on. It’s a masterful exploration of heartbreak, underpinned by McRae’s signature introspectiveness and stark honesty.

7. exes

McRae waxes poetic about the emotional turmoil of love and loss, as she offers a tongue-in-cheek farewell to past relationships with a mix of regret and relief. The song is a tear-stained musing on break-ups and the aftermath, shedding light on the recurring pattern of making up and breaking up. With each cryptic line, we witness McRae grappling with her shifting feelings and the destructive patterns that ensue.

The recurring reference to origami plays as a metaphor for hearts being bent, folded and reshaped in the throes of emotion. The theme of holding onto relics from past relationships – phone numbers and necklaces – paints a poignant picture of remembrance and regret; a testament to love’s lingering imprint. “Exes” is a stark portrayal of the tumultuous journey of love, dappled with self-awareness and a fearless exploration of the uncertain road that comes with growing up and learning how to navigate the choppy waters of romance.

8. we’re not alike

McRae flawlessly embodies the disgruntled protagonist, dealing with the duplicity of someone she once shared an intimate rapport with. The lyrics lay bare how deep cuts can go when the person causing them is someone who once claimed to be on your side. The repeated lines, “Said she was a girl’s girl, that’s a lie” and “Said she had my back but she had the knife” underline the bitter disillusionment McRae’s character feels. The chorus’ stark declaration, ‘We’re Not Alike’, stands as final acceptance of the situation. McRae’s lyrics tell a tale of lost trust and the agony of deceit, but they also signal an awakening – a realization that not everyone who claims to support you truly has your back. A bittersweet ode to personal growth through deception and disillusionment, this track is a standout in McRae’s formidable repertoire.

9. calgary

McRae adeptly encapsulates the dissonance between her actual age, 20, and the adolescent, 15-year-old version of herself she sometimes still feels like, painting a picture of the lingering immaturity and uncertainties we carry even as we age. The track’s lyrics underline the pressure she puts upon herself, grappling with fears, dreams, and trying to build meaningful relationships.

Moreover, the lyrics delve deep into the complexity of emotional struggle, emphasizing her journey of understanding self-worth in the process of growing up. The sense of betterment that she initially feels turns out to be an illusion, akin to how a performer plays a part, suggesting a disturbing facade masking her true feelings. McRae’s lyrics confront her habitual mistakes and the haunting echoes of her past, all tightly bundled in the name of a city: Calgary. The song serves as a slice-of-life depiction, a testament to McRae’s maturity in understanding the process of navigating life’s hardships, and a reflection of her signature honest lyricism.

10. messier

It’s a provocative anecdote of a tumultuous love saga that’s as enthralling as it is convoluted. The lyrics set a stage for a classic lovers’ quarrel, where despite the disputes and bitterness, there’s an unshakeable charm that keeps pulling them back together.

The essence of the song lies in its raw depiction of flawed love. McRae’s whispering voice seems to float on a cloud of regret and longing, drenched in the melancholy realization that their love is a chaotic blend of sweetness dashed with bitterness. The lyricism reflects a deeply personal tussle of love and pride, where pride keeps them at loggerheads, but love, a relentless soldier, refuses to surrender. Despite the provocations and pain, it’s a love that endures, teetering on the brink of destruction but never quite capsizing.

Through “messier,” McRae has delivered a powerfully emotive exploration of young, messy love punctuated with passionate intensity, sublimely portraying the intoxicating blend of agony and ecstasy that characterizes such entanglements.

11. think later

The song is immersed in the spirit of spontaneity. It’s about living in the moment and pushing aside the consequences, a common theme in the tales of adolescence. McRae gives a taste of an adventurous night out, with lyrics talking of dabbling in the Boston nightlife and the palpable chemistry bubbling between two people. The unapologetic chase of fun and the intoxicating charm of her romantic interest become central to the song’s atmosphere. It’s a heady mix of infatuation and disregard for caution. By declaring, “Live now, think later,” McRae puts forth a mantra for the carefree and the headstrong, embodying their pursuit of excitement and ephemeral love stories. As listeners, we’re cruising through a fast-paced play-by-play, swaying to the beat of McRae’s unfiltered storytelling and her audacious pop sensibilities.

12. guilty conscience

In this banger, McRae bares her tumultuous inner conflict when love veers into the realm of the toxic, painting a lucid picture of heartache with a masterful handling of lyrical prose. Here, our heroine finds herself ensnared in a cycle of bad decisions and meltdowns, buried under the weight of a guilty conscience. She’s holding on to a relationship that’s clearly damaging, conned by promises and paralyzed by fear of the impending devastation of breaking away. The narrative explores the theme of self-deception, encapsulated in lines like “Lotta ‘I’m just seeing the best in you ’cause I want to,” highlighting the way love can radically blur the lines of rational judgment. With a throbbing realization, she knows she loves recklessly, yet she’s willing to live with a guilty conscience rather than sever ties and face the aftermath.

13. want that too

It manifests the classic trope of wanting someone who’s with someone else, but McRae’s lyrical prowess transforms it into something uniquely her own. She evokes a yearning not just for the person, but for the experiences they share with someone else. ‘Wanting that too’ speaks to universal human experiences of desire and unrequited love.

In the chorus, she crafts vivid images of a shared glance, a whisper that might bloom into a full-blown conversation – petty yet poignant details we associate with romantic dalliances. McRae’s writing is a masterclass in pop lyricism, injecting these mainstream themes with an intense, hyper-specific emotional authenticity. It’s a heart-renderingly relatable scenario rendered in a way that only someone with McRae’s raw, precocious talent could execute.

14. plastic palm trees

The track serves as a poignant self-reflection, where McRae, in a bid to remain grounded, challenges the gloss and illusion of stardom symbolized by the ‘plastic palm trees’. The lyrics artistically portray her anxieties of being swept away into a world of pretense, while she yearns to stay true to her roots and reality. One can’t help but marvel at her mature insight and the stark truth behind the ‘constructed paradise’. Here’s a young artist, navigating the turbulence of pop stardom, yet holding onto her candor and sincerity. “plastic palm trees” isn’t just a catchy track, it’s McRae’s candid journaling, a testament to her quest for veracity amidst all that glitters.