Alessia Cara is always telling a story. Whether through her powerfully relatable lyrics or a well-crafted music video, the star’s music is always an experience. An experience of high school, an experience of insecurity, even an experience of going crazy with insomnia in the middle of the night. In honour of Cara’s new era, we take a look back at all her past music videos and pick our ultimate faves.
1. ‘Here’ (2015)
The debut hit from the star was a smash for all outsiders and cemented Cara as their queen. The iconic ‘hating parties’ track essentially put the star on the map, and it all stemmed from Cara herself attending a house party a year prior and hating it so much she had to ask her mum to come and pick her up. Classic. The music video depicts that party, with Cara walking around freeze frames of party goers and painting the beautiful picture of her vs them. The video is, not surprisingly, one of Cara’s biggest and has racked up over 200 million views to date.
2. ‘Not Today’ (2018)
A simple yet effective one, ‘Not Today’ honestly portrays sadness as something temporary you just need to get through. A visibly upset Cara (as per the giant mascara tears rolling down her face) moves around her house in hollowed movements, as if she’s a shell of who she used to be. From struggling to get out of bed to forcing a smile in the mirror and slowly shuffling her feet to music, Cara sings that one day she’ll be okay, just not today.
3. ‘Rooting for You’ (2019)
A hit off the star’s EP This Summer, ‘RFY’ details a failed summer relationship and takes inspiration from Tyra Banks’ iconic “I was rooting for you, we were all rooting for you!” line. In its accompanied video, we see different scenarios where we find ourselves disappointed, such as when we think we don’t need the recipe and end up burning our cookies, or when your date shows up an hour late and leaves you there waiting. A humourous video paired with a grainy, vintage filter and in sync cheerleaders, what more could you want? Just need an appearance from Miss Banks herself.
4. ‘Seventeen’ (2016)
A bittersweet track everyone can relate to, ‘Seventeen’ sees Cara wishing she could freeze time and just stay 17 forever. Visually, the track takes place on a bus and starts with a young Cara before she grows through the ages and eras, becoming a Grammy-award winner, a mum, a grandmother, and then back to her 17-year-old self. It’s definitely one of our faves, however the alternate video she filmed in a hotel room here in NZ is a good contender.
5. ‘Out of Love’ (2019)
Inspired by a friend of Cara’s who had just suffered a breakup, this track pinpoints the heartbreaking moment of when one falls out of love with another. In the music video we see Cara third wheeling a couple and watching as they slowly drift apart and fall out of love. It’s definitely one of the simpler videos the star has done, but its message is so hard-hitting that it’s impossible not to take note of it.
6. ‘Wild Things’ (2016)
Following the cool-to-be-an-outsider concept of ‘Here’, Cara’s second debut single was huge when it first dropped. A larger-than-life upbeat anthem about celebrating quirks and differences, the music video finds Cara and a group of friends adventuring around Toronto like a coming-of-age film. From fake tattoos to fireworks on the beach, the anti-cool becomes an exclusive club you desperately want to be a part of. The video begins and ends with Cara explaining there’s something wild in every one of us and it received a nomination for Best Pop Video at the 2016 MTV Music Video Awards.
7. ‘Scars to Your Beautiful’ (2016)
A self-love bop to end body shaming once and for all, ‘STYB’ sees Cara shining a light on body positivity, insecurities, and learning to love the skin you’re in. But it’s the music video that really stands out. Featuring a bunch of “real people with real stories”, we see a makeup-less Cara in between cuts of people of all ages and body sizes. Some of them share their struggles with words, others simply show scars or disabilities they’ve felt have always held them back. It’s a simple enough concept, but one that’s remained powerful all these years later.
8. ‘Sweet Dream’ (2021)
Off her newest project in the making, an album that Cara states has a “theme of duality”, ‘Sweet Dream’ captures the rough thoughts and emotions the star has been going through the last few years and more specifically details her struggle with insomnia. And that’s probably why the video is complete orchestrated chaos. Following Cara in different crazy outfits and makeup around her house, the idea of insomnia is illustrated to perfection through a tangled mess of cords and wires, a sheep following her around, and random objects sat in places they don’t belong.
9. ‘Growing Pains’ (2018)
Earning a nomination for Best Cinematography at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards, the video for ‘Growing Pains’ perfectly sums up the feeling of growing up. A frazzled Cara rushes around a dystopian room, surrounded by adults wearing masks and suits, and tries to outrun the authoritarian influence of them. In the end, we see a suit being forced on Cara as she’s underwater, a beautiful metaphor that suggests everyone must eventually chuck on their ‘big girl pants’ and grow up, whether we actually want to or not.
10. ‘Shapeshifter’ (2021)
Dropped at the same time as ‘Sweet Dream’ to reflect her duality theme, it makes sense that both accompanying music videos would relate too. The spicy, jazz-type ‘Shapeshifter’ follows Cara around as different characters trying to work out the missing piece of their collective story. At the end, we uncover a sheep – working back to the sleepless theme of ‘Sweet Dream’ – and the Cara we left in the previous video pops back up in the ocean in her red dress, mattress in hand.