Tayla Parx is a prime example of the record industry phenomenon where a “new” artist doesn’t quite fit that description. While the 25-year-old singer/songwriter is coming into prominence as one of the pens behind devastating hits like Khalid and Normani’s “Love Lies” and Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” and “7 Rings,” the Dallas, Texas-native and Los Angeles transplant has been kicking around the entertainment business for what feels like forever.
For instance, unless you were a huge fan of musical theater, you might have missed Tayla’s appearance as Little Inez in the 2007 film Hairspray. Likewise, if you’d grown out of Nickelodeon’s target demographic, you may be surprised to learn that the singer had been a fixture in America’s living rooms for three years as recurring character Shelly on Nick’s tween sitcom, True Jackson, VP.
In the years since, she’s contributed to albums from high-profile performers like Demi Lovato, Janelle Monae (with whom she was nominated for a 2019 Grammy for Album Of The Year), Rihanna, and Usher, landing no less than four singles in Billboard‘s Hot 100 top ten, including the aforementioned “7 Rings,” “Love Lies,” “Thank U, Next,” and Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes.” She’s accomplished plenty behind the scenes and no one could blame her for being completely satisfied with what she’s accomplished so far.
But Tayla wants to be a star, capable of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with contemporaries like Ariana Grande, whom she counts as a close friend. “7 Rings” operated as an ode to their friendship, but with its outstanding controversy last year, it may have also delivered Parx exactly the catalyst she needed to catapult herself into the spotlight alongside her friend. A rush of timely publicity has directed plenty of the attention from the single’s purported appropriation to its co-progenitors, meaning Tayla (and co-writers Kaydence, Njomza, and Victoria Monét) has the chance to step out in front as the face behind the single.
In a quirk of semi-fortuitous timing, as the spotlight swung toward the writing team behind “7 Rings,” Tayla had already been prepping the release of her debut album, We Need To Talk, with its sugary singles “Me Vs. Us,” “Slow Dancing,” and most recently, “I Want You.” Each of the singles — and their respective videos — showcase her brightly colored, ’90s-retro aesthetic and soft, almost cartoony playfulness with melodies and visuals alike.
From her cotton candy-colored bob and oversized, pajama party-esque wardrobe, to her light, almost noncommittal engagement with the sing-song tunes her own songs exhibit, she seems almost childlike, evoking a sense of innocence and joy that contrasts with the often much more mature subject matter and singing styles she employs on her songs for others. It’s the same versatility that allows her to switch effortlessly from performing roles on TV shows like Bones and video games like The Walking Dead to scribing the dismissive but catchy bounce of Thank U, Next cuts
Pushing back the release of We Need To Talk from winter to spring, Tayla has timed its release to her tour with Anderson .Paak, on which she’ll also be supporting fellow 2019 breakout Lizzo, providing all the showcase she needs to continue her ascent to the same mainstream notoriety as her pen’s beneficiaries. With her established credits littering the industry for the past year, she’s already proved her credentials and her chops navigating others’ paths to stardom. Now it’s time to take the wheel and drive there for herself.
We Need To Talk is due April 5 through Atlantic Records.
Tayla Parx is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music.