When you leave a successful pop group, your solo debut is important. Like really important. It needs to be a statement, something that separates your new, independent present from your codependent past, a track that establishes you as an evergreen artiste, a song that proves you were the best one all along, a not-so-subtle fuck you to your former bandmates still stewing in pop band hell. It needs to be a ‘Careless Whisper’, a ‘PILLOWTALK’ or a ‘Dilemma’. But then again, Beyoncé kicked off her solo career with ‘Work It Out‘, so who really knows.
Fresh out of Fifth Harmony, Camila Cabello has already had a couple of false starts. 2015’s duet with Shawn Mendes failed to set the charts alight and her 2016 single with Machine Gun Kelly – surely the most superfluous rapper in the world – was similarly underwhelming. But with her new track, ‘Crying In The Club’, Cabello is truly going it alone for the first time. No featured artists, just Camila Cabello, the annoying one out of Fifth Harmony, on her own.
‘Crying In The Club’ was co-written by rent-a-pen Sia, whose songwriting has become increasingly lazy of late, her style not so much distinctive as it is repetitive. The beginning to Cabello’s new track is extremely similar to Sia’s ‘Cheap Thrills’ – and by extension, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ – with its tispy calypso lilt. And from here on in, ‘Crying In The Club’ offers nothing that differs from the RnB dance music of Fifth Harmony, nothing that establishes Cabello as the breakaway talent and nothing that promises an illustrious solo career ahead.
In 2017, ‘Crying In The Club’ is a mainstream radio station’s wet dream. It ticks all of the boxes that make for a radio hit – catchy chorus, heavy handed production, lifeless female vocal – making for a track that sounds familiar from the very first listen. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear you’d heard it twenty times on Radio 1 already, thinking it was probably by Zara Larrson or Anne-Marie. The only thing it’s missing is a Sean Paul feature.
Cabello’s first real foray into solo territory is underwhelming, not because the track is necessarily a dud, but because it offers nothing new. To make a real splash as a solo artist, she needed something that broke the mold, a track that would set her apart from Fifth Harmony and give listeners a reason to invest in a burgeoning solo career. Instead, Cabello has played it safe, serving up a track that will no doubt get its fair share of radio play but that will likely disappear from the charts, and our memories, just as quickly as it came.