Like everybody else, I started crushing on Tinashe after a few listens to her ubiquitous, 2014 party hit “2 On.” Silky yet self-assured, she had that Control-era Janet Jackson thing going, vulnerability blended with youthful confidence. She showed sexy, stylish range on other tracks from debut Aquarius, from the bounce of “Feels Like Vegas” to the haunting ballad “Pretend.”
This crush intensified when the singer/songwriter nailed “The Pleasure Principle” portion of the Janet dance tribute at last year’s BET Awards. Clearly we were dealing with a total-package talent. But the 23-year-old Tinashe has shown from the beginning that while she can do pop R&B as well as anyone in the current musical landscape, her sound steers more toward the alternative, an evolution certain to be displayed on her upcoming second studio album, Joyride. She can match vocals and dance moves with Chris Brown in “Player” and then unleash the slinky, trippy “Party Favors,” demolishing anyone’s expectations of what her music is supposed to sound like.
Keep listening. It’s hard to follow along and not develop a crush. Tinashe at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, March 31.