Camila Cabello has smashed the charts, broken records, and flowered as a respected and creative solo artist, releasing her debut album just 12 months after announcing her departure from Fifth Harmony.
Self-titled album, Camila, doesn’t hold back from letting the world know that Camila Cabello is doing it for herself. Whether this is a good or bad message to hear is up to the listener. Camila is definitely artistic and beautiful in parts, however, for me, I was definitely expecting a more upbeat and energetic mood. The success of Havana was something I believed would lead the album into a fun and exhilarated vibe however there are not many tracks, in my opinion, which follow this structure, and the majority of the songs are very deep, slow and emotional. Personally, at times I found this album very self-involved and too dramatic and over-the-top. Obviously, this can be seen as an intricate look into Camila’s inner-most soul and I actually applaud her bravery and strength in being able to give all of that to the world. It shows an honest vulnerability which we don’t usually get in mainstream pop music.
However, if you’re looking for an up-beat, fun album to listen to, I wouldn’t necessary recommend Camila, and I would definitely not expect all of the songs to be like Havana. A few of the tracks are really vibrant and can be great summer songs but I guess there’s a reason Camila released her debut album in the winter. There is a big emphasis on the vocal throughout this album which is understandable as Camila’s voice is so unique and has such a massive range. There is also a lot of emotion in the notes and the lyrics which can sometimes be overwhelming and some songs also seem a bit too mysterious and vague.
I have followed Camila’s music in the past year and personally loved her previous songs which sadly didn’t make the album. Crying in the Club and I Have Questions would have really suited the album as they are both emotional ballads as well as having a really good beat. Additionally, OMG featuring Quavo went alongside Havana brilliantly and would have mixed up the songs a bit more with the faster paced backing and also bring another collaboration to the album. It would be irritating if certain songs Camila released last year didn’t make the cut if you were connected with them, but as long as Inside Out made it I was happy. (More praise on that later!)
The main theme of this album is like most albums; Love. Although, Camila does it in a way that seems a bit more obsessive and most of the songs give the impression that the artist has been dwelling over this person or this encounter for quite some time. In an interview, Camila revealed that she had changed the name of the album from ‘The Hurting, The Healing, The Loving’ because this was about her and she didn’t want to give any credit to this person she had issues with, but, in my opinion, the music kind of negates this idea because it is so heavily focused on this previous relationship, and even describes specific moments and conversations. There are a couple of songs which stray away from this theme. She Loves Control felt mostly about jealousy as Camila warns about a manipulative woman, which is definitely different from the majority of the songs because Camila is now criticising another girl rather than singing all about romance, but it definitely stems from the same relationship Camila had. Following this, Real Friends is the only song that feels completely unrelated to any other track on the album, as Camila talks about secluding herself from friends who she doesn’t feel are there for her. This track can feel incompatible with the rest of the songs.
Personally, I enjoyed listening to the more up-beat songs because I preferred the images of passion and the exciting beginnings of a relationship. Certain songs which do discuss the positive times, were still a bit too slow and deep for me and it took me a while to really enjoy listening to them. There are a couple of tracks which dwell solely on the negatives of the relationship and, when you’re as young as Camila is, I think this can seem dramatic. However, even though her music and her voice might not always be what I want to listen to, I have to praise Camila because she’s only 21 and she has achieved so much and is so brave to go at it alone. She also seems to always take responsibility for her spotlight, and she is relatable and a role model for a lot of people because she is so genuine.
“Sneaking in L.A. when the lights are low,
off of one touch I could overdose.
You said, ‘Stop playing it safe, girl, I wanna see you lose control'”
– I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME
Never Be The Same is the fitting first track of Camila and was hugely successful all over the world upon it’s release as a single. Aside from the mild repetitiveness, this song has everything going for it. I remember when I first heard the opening of this song and just being completely hypnotised by the emphasised low notes and the emerging Latino rhythm. Before any lyrics there’s a pause which gives me chills. Those high notes Camila hits in the pre-chorus are to die for and the words throughout the verses are so intricate and meaningful. The way Camila describes her feelings can sometimes make you feel them too, or at least make you feel like you were there. This song represents a relationship which leaves you in a completely different place to where you were before it happened, and I think that is relatable for everyone, and really sets the tone for the rest of album. Camila is detailing this massive event in her life and the tracks that follow are the result of this.
“And I, and I never prepared for a moment like that
Yeah, in a second it came all back, it all came back,”
– ALL THESE YEARS
Camila’s voice really suits the acoustic guitar set-up of the next track. All These Years is actually a really sweet song and the soft lyrics and melodies expresses images of innocence and shyness. Camila sings about meeting someone she still has feelings with after a long time apart and she captures the awkwardness of that meeting in her words and rhythm so well. The verses are slow representing Camila’s intense focus on the small details of this person; what has changed and what is still exactly the same as she remembers. The pre-chorus is where she starts to panic over seeing him again shown when the pace picks up and the notes get higher. The chorus is very catchy, the bridge is unique and Camila’s light voice presents a picture of a cute, little girl who’s in love. It’s easy to listen to because I feel like everyone has been in that one-way relationship at some point, where your devotion is not reciprocated or even noticed.
“She loves control, she wants it her way,
And all it takes is just one taste, you wanna give it up,”
– SHE LOVES CONTROL
She Loves Control has an interesting beat and has good backing vocals however I failed to connect with this track. It took me a while to even understand the message or the story, as Camila appears to discuss a rival woman. I personally got the sense that Camila was actually jealous here and it feels kind of random and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the album as this mysterious woman isn’t mentioned in any other tracks. It feels so detached from the rest of the songs that it’s possible that this woman was completely unrelated to the main relationship Camila explores in her track list. This song can get stuck in your head but it’s so vague that it can get irritating. Is Camila talking about a woman who has stolen her man, or a friend or girlfriend who wanted to control her? In my opinion, it’s difficult to relate and connect with a song when you’re not 100% sure what’s it’s talking about.
“He didn’t walk up with that “how you doin’?”
He said there’s a lot of girls I can do with ”
The next track got crucified with overplays, has simple lyrics but an awesome beat, and a fairly annoying rap right in the middle of it. Havana was the song that was made to be completely average and yet randomly gained worldwide success. With a huge hit that Camila obviously poured her heart into, I can’t say I’m not a little bit proud of her. This song resonated with a lot of people which is surprising because, on the surface level, it is simple and it is average. However, there are specialties to Havana including the latino undertones and the southern backdrop which you just don’t hear on the radio, and I have to say Camila is the one who keeps the song alive. Her live performances are glowing and she really gives everything and makes every rendition special. I know I said Young Thug raps in this tune but I think it does class as singing and I just don’t think it’s very good, especially compared to other versions of Havana that are out there. It’s clearly been used because it is the version that gained success everywhere and it’s the one everyone recognises. Not to put down Young Thug because he is talented, but anyone who has heard the version without him where Camila gets herself another verse (which is better than the first, by the way) will understand what I mean. I feel like this is such a passionate song that Camila can really own for herself and when she gets the whole song it’s so much more passionate and so much more independent. I also prefer the Daddy Yankee remix, so, to sum up, Young Thug’s verse in Havana is definitely a low point in the album for me.
“Grew up in south South Miami,
that’s where I was when you found me, yeah.
Thought you could go on without me,
now you can’t see you without me,”
– INSIDE OUT
The only criticism I have about Inside Out is that it’s not long enough and Why is there no music video for this? Inside Out is one of the best songs I’ve heard in a long time and I personally think it should have blown up on the radio instead of Havana. Unlike Havana, it’s not overly repetitive, it’s more fun, it’s more passionate and it hasn’t got a rap in it. Inside Out is my all-time favourite Camila Cabello song and I can’t praise it enough. If you haven’t heard it yet, stop reading and go and listen! This song is what I wanted the whole album to sound like but unfortunately I can’t have everything. This song has a great beat, amazing lyrics and I can’t help but dance every time I put it on. *applauds track*
“Loving you was young, and wild, and free, loving you was cool, and hot, and sweet, loving you was sunshine, safe and sound,”
I used to hate listening to the track Consequences because I felt it didn’t have any substance, however I’ve grown to appreciate it in it’s own way. My original opinion was that Consequences was over-dramatic and extremely vague. I could guess and say Camila is discussing a strong romantic relationship that didn’t work out but I’m not even sure about that. The lyrics in the verses discuss the devastating feelings potentially after a break up (if that is what the song is referring to), and then the chorus talks about how “sweet” and “free” the relationship was before it all fell apart. However, it all felt too mysterious for me, like Camila was holding back when she was writing it. It’s so in-descriptive that it can also feel as though Camila just made the story up. I do enjoy the change in notes and lyrics in the last chorus but, even then, it still doesn’t explain what actually happened in this relationship; Was the guy not good for Camila? Were her feelings just not reciprocated? The song left me thinking; ‘Well, what were the consequences?’. One of the praises I would give the track would be the emotion in Camila’s voice, especially considering the lyrics are so vague.
“Can’t help but feel like something’s wrong, yeah,
‘Cause the place I’m livin’ in just doesn’t feel like home,”
– REAL FRIENDS
The next song is Real Friends and, as I’ve already mentioned, this track feels out of place on this album. Camila revealed that Real Friends was one of the last songs she wrote for the album and, as she describes that she is now over the past relationship which this album is inspired by, it feels as though Real Friends is part of the next chapter in Camila’s life and shouldn’t be a part of the first album. Although, the song itself is really good. It’s catchy and has a message that everyone can connect with in regards to feeling alone and like your friends are not really there for you. The slow guitar picks and soft notes present the feeling of helplessness and disappointment and the lyrics are super accurate. When listening, you can really feel Camila’s experiences as if you lived it yourself.
“No reason to stay, is a good reason to go,”
– SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE
I have to say that Something’s Gotta Give is my least favourite song on Camila. Similarly to Consequences, it’s too slow and too vague for my liking. It’s also quite self-centric as Camila feels as though she put everything into this past relationship whilst the guy didn’t make any effort. Some of the melodies and notes are interesting but I find the chorus too repetitive and boring. The next track is called In The Dark and, although this was another tune that took me a while to really enjoy, it’s so unique and has a great beat. The verses are serious and slow but then the pre-chorus and chorus are actually fun and makes you want to dance. In this song Camila recalls trying to persuade someone to open up to her and be more honest and genuine. This can be quite sexy but there are beautiful messages of loyalty and passion. Despite the fact Camila is discussing someone who was obviously reserved and detached which must have been devastating and irritating, she still manages to make it such a fun song that you can really invest yourself in. There is a trend in Camila’s music of connecting with someone on an emotional level, and In The Dark really captures this.
“Who are you when it’s 3 AM and you’re all alone
And L.A. doesn’t feel like home?”
– IN THE DARK
Following In The Dark perfectly, Into It is just as sexy and passionate. I do prefer the faster pace of this song and the pre-chorus is beautifully high and intricate. Every line in the chorus represents a different aspect of intensely committing to someone; “whatever trouble that you’re thinking, I could get into it” implicates the idea of doing something fun and maybe troublesome with someone, even if you don’t know what is is, because you’re loyal and have that devotion. “I see a king-sized bed in the corner, we should get into it” is slightly saucy but also quite cute to imagine the more innocent image of falling into bed with someone and just relaxing, and then “All of the things I wanna do to you is infinite,” solely focuses on sex. This last line is so passionate and presents the idea that romantic and sexual relationships have so much potential and that there’s so much to explore with each other. Each line gets a bit more mature and a bit more sexually intense, just like how a relationship would grow.
“Don’t save me, don’t save me, don’t save me
I’ll fall into you, fall into you,”
– INTO IT
The album is concluded with Never Be The Same again. I don’t know who in Camila’s team decided to include the radio edit of this song in the album, or why it was included when the only difference is a few lines in the pre-chorus to make it less explicit, but oh well. It could be that hearing the opening song again represents that Camila is still not the same and is still affected by her past relationship but I think all of the songs implement this idea anyway. I would have much rather preferred another of Camila’s songs that didn’t make the album cut, than a song we’ve already heard. There’s nothing really more to say because you’ll see I’ve already reviewed this song if you scroll up.
In conclusion, I will say that Camila will definitely reach out to you if you are going through a break up or are feeling emotionally hurt or alone, and there are a good few songs hidden in there that are more fun, and I have definitely related to and therefore have developed a fondness and sentiment with them. It does get confusing sometimes listening to this album because Camila has clearly been impacted by one or multiple bad relationships or break ups, but then almost half of the tracks are passionately fun and are inspired by the good times in those relationships. It is a keyhole insight into Camila’s love life and how, mentally and emotionally, confusing and complicated, it must be.