Tinashe has had an interesting ride so far. By rights, on talent alone she should be sitting pretty atop the new generation pop pile currently led by Ariana Grande, but since her early singles "2 On" and "All Hands On Deck" she's failed to build momentum, perhaps due to the fact that her album has been delayed for well over a year now.
And despite an interim mixtape, a Britney feature that some (OK, I) read as a potential crown-passing moment (it wasn't), and the fact that she's easily the best dancer in the game right now, Tinashe still hasn't risen to the heights that her skill set suggests she deserves. What Tinashe needs, therefore, is a Big Song—a radio hit—to launch her out of the timelines of the rabid Twitter stans who bemoan her lack of success and into the hearts and minds of the record-buying and streaming public. Tinashe needs a "Sorry," or a, "Work From Home," or a "Closer," or even, a *whisper it* "All About That Bass" (I shuddered as I typed it, but it's true). Does her new single, "Flame" fit the bill?
It's an objectively good mid-tempo pop song of the calibre that Tinashe should be making. It builds nicely; it has a big pop chorus. I predict that it will get good radio rotation. But the problem with it is that you can't really tell who it is—there's very little identity, and it's also a slight departure from the previous Tinashe material that has had success.
On a first listen, I figured that it actually sounds more like a Fifth Harmony song (Tinashe wrote "That's My Girl" for the group), and though it's possible that she's changing tack, it also feels as though she's kind of having to start from the beginning again. If that's the case, I hope it works this time, because in a just world, Tinashe should be dominating: I'd like it if "Flame" were the first step towards that, but I'm not necessarily convinced it will be.
Follow Lauren on Twitter.
(Image via Tinashe on Instagram)