Daya is trying to be the new Lorde.
The 17-year-old pop artist sounds just as dream-like as the “Royals” singer, and Daya’s debut studio album “Sit Still, Look Pretty” appeals to the same group of wannabe edgy mainstream listeners. Both her titular song and April 2015 hit “Hide Away” promise an album of original, ethereal beats, but the new record’s shallow and dated lyrics of a millennial ultimately disappoint.
“Sit Still, Look Pretty,” the highlight of the album, rose to popularity when it was first released in March 2016 with messages about not changing for a boy and being more than a pretty face. Daya’s crisp sound production is the pretty face covering up other tracks’ superficial lyrics.
The epitome of her try-hard-yet-effort-lacking songwriting is the lyricism of “I.C.Y.M.I,” “Talk” and “Thirsty,” all of which do little more than use viral wording, such as pop culture references and internet language, to try to fit in with today’s hip youth.
“Thirsty” could belong on a Meghan Trainor album with its swinging rhythm and girl-power vibe – it’s the rare all-out pop song. The song includes a spell out of its title, reminiscent of Gwen Stefani in “Hollaback Girl.”
“Boy you’re too thirsty for me / Won’t get to first base,” she sings, employing a teenager’s vocabulary to be cool. Despite being in the age category herself, Daya’s use of the word thirsty to sell an album has the same cringing effect of hearing parents attempting to use the lingo.
Electronic and casual, “I.C.Y.M.I” also force-feeds modern slang, drawing a bit too liberally from the depths of Urban Dictionary.
“In case you missed it or just don’t get it / I’m all the way over you, over you,” she sings in the chorus, the track’s sole use of its namesake acronym.
Then she refers to herself as a throwback kid from the ’90s in the auto-tuned pop “Talk,” while also slipping in mentions of Kanye West and Yeezus.
Though the Pennsylvania singer’s most popular songs will remain two of the album’s singles, a few other numbers from the album showcase her angelic voice blended pleasantly with EDM.
Opening song “Dare” stands out for the laid-back vocals. A burst of her high, clear voice in the chorus flows well over the hard-hitting beats and tempo of the number.
Radio listeners will soon by singing along to “So go on dare me to lose, dare me to move, dare me to run / and you can dare me to prove something to you / Is that what you want? / I dare you to,” followed by a break.
Ballad “Back to Me” has slightly deeper themes about losing a love and losing trust. The slow song spotlights her belt without too many instrumentals to distract – she’s accompanied by simple piano and some electronic pulses in the background.
The album’s cohesive electronic sound works for someone passively listening to the radio, but – to be blunt – her lyrics clash with her message in The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down.”
Perhaps Daya’s age hinders her from writing more thought-provoking and personal lyrics, which is a shame because her delicate sound has potential. Ironically, the teen’s conventional messages ultimately fail because they try too hard to fit in with millennials instead of either rising above modern slang to be insightful or using it appropriately without commercializing.
Daya’s not the new Lorde yet, but maybe with less auto-tuning, more experienced lyrics and more confidence in her own style, this gal right here can rule the world.