Camila Cabello only took 390 days to release her debut, self-titled album after her highly publicized departure from the girl group that brought her fame. That’s the same album that, since its release at the top of 2018, has led to Cabello scoring two more multi-platinum singles, a Grammy nomination and two major wins at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards.
It’s not simply the mega commercial success of Camila that makes it one of the year's most noteworthy albums, though. With every track bearing her name in the songwriting credits, Cabello's debut album marked a new start in which she found her voice, her sound, and her story.
As much as Cabello thrived on her early solo work, including her platinum-selling collaborations with Shawn Mendes and Machine Gun Kelly, Camila’s lead single “Havana” massively altered the course of her career. Singing a catchy hook over a purely Latin instrumental, Cabello created a masterpiece unlike anything else being played on pop radio.
Making a bold lead single choice that definitely paid off – "Havana" became the most-streamed song by a solo female artist in Spotify’s history – Cabello gained the confidence she needed to create the rest of her debut album, she told NME this January.
After the success of “Havana,” Cabello scrapped previously written songs from her album, further embraced her Cuban-American roots and made music from the heart. Furthering herself from the mainstream, cookie-cutter bops that she was used to in Fifth Harmony, Cabello’s final product was Camila, an album as authentic to her as it gets.
Cabello’s long-term fans can verify the album’s authenticity. While she keeps details vague on the album, Cabello sings about relationships and friendships that seemingly point to rumors that the Camilizers (the affectionate term for her fans) have long known and investigated. It’s the nods to those experiences, like a past romance in “Never Be The Same” and a fling with a famous guy in “Something’s Gotta Give,” that adds to the connection between Cabello and her fans.
All around, the songs on Camila succeed by coming from Cabello’s perspective as a 21-year-old young woman experiencing love and loss, not as an international superstar. At its core, Camila is an album about growing up, with lyrics that anyone with a Tumblr blog (or a Notes app) could be writing alongside Cabello. Originally titled The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving., the album captures the everything-at-once rush of emotions that any 21-year-old feels while learning to navigate the world on their own.
And when Cabello does reference her fame, it's in a manner that keeps her grounded and more relatable to the everyday young people who love her most. Deeply skeptical of Hollywood and the spotlight, Cabello makes her dissatisfactions especially evident on the song “Real Friends," as she condemns the lack of genuine people in the entertainment industry, a full-circle moment for an album that relies on Cabello’s own authenticity.
Now, nearly a year after the album’s release, all the tracks on Camila continue to hold up. After releasing a music video starring Cole Sprouse, Cabello’s promoting a fan-favorite song, “Consequences,” as the album’s final official single. The piano ballad’s rise on the charts likely isn’t a surprise to Cabello or her team; an audience at a French radio station sang along word-for-word with Cabello a number of months before the song’s release as a single.
With the success of “Havana,” “Never Be The Same” and now “Consequences,” Cabello is proving that no matter the tempo or instrumental, her vocals and writing talent are key to her hits. And even though Cabello’s already off to work on her second solo album, Camila will serve as her foundation for years to come. It’s the place Cabello found her footing, jumped off, and soared to the top of everyone's mind with song after song in 2018.