That is how long ago it was that Tinashe’s latest album, Joyride, was originally supposed to be released. At the time, the 2015 version of Joyride was led by singles “Player” featuring Chris Brown, and “Party Favors” featuring Young Thug. The album was supposed to signify Tinashe’s crossover to the pop genre. She had just concluded the most successful era of her career with her debut album, Aquarius, her gold-certified song, “All Hands On Deck,” and her multi-platinum hit song, “2 On.” Had “Player” become a hit, the next single from Joyride was supposed to be an EDM record titled, “Prisoner.” When both “Player” and “Party Favors” failed to gain traction on the charts, the rollout of the album seemed to go downhill. RCA, Tinashe’s record label, decided to scrap the idea of a November 2015 release, opting instead to release the album on January 8, 2016, but that too failed to materialize.
Tinashe then went back into the studio, this time in hopes of reincarnating the album with the urban twist that her fans were used to. Finally, in February 2016, Tinashe released a new single, “Ride Of Your Life,” which was produced by hip-hop heavyweight Metro Boomin. The song was not given a promotional budget by RCA, and was never sent to radio, leaving fans to classify the cut as a buzz-single. RCA decided to go a different route, putting the future of the album in the hands of R&B royalty, The-Dream and Tricky Stewart, who each gave Rihanna and Ciara some of their most memorable hits in the late 2000s and early 2010s. With the duo, Tinashe recorded Joyride’s new lead single, “Superlove,” which was released in July 2016 and combined contemporary pop with 2000s R&B. The track resulted in what many fans have deemed her best music video thus far. But like “Player,” the song failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and only reached #19 on the Billboard R&B Songs chart. In a final attempt at touching the charts before the end of 2016, Tinashe released a second single from the second version of Joyride, “Company,” also produced by Dream and Stewart. With so much of the budget spent on “Superlove,” RCA never sent “Company” to radio. The song never charted, and once again, the future of Joyride was left in a state of limbo.
Fans were granted relief on November 3, 2016, when Tinashe announced that a full-length project titled Nightride would be released the next day. The commercial mixtape was complete with 15 tracks, all of which comprised what critics described as the best work of her career. Fans went crazy over the set, as it contained alternate versions of “Company” and “Party Favors,” along with moody and mysterious R&B material that seemed like an homage to her earlier mixtapes In Case We Die, Reverie, Blackwater, and Amethyst. While enjoying every bit of the project, fans wondered if Joyride would ever exist. What many of them weren’t aware of was that the majority of songs on Nightride were meant for Joyride. The release of the mixtape was RCA’s way of both holding off fans, as well as purging Joyride of its original content to make room for a brand new version the album. But before the album was completely redone, RCA forced Tinashe to make one more attempt at pop music by releasing “Flame” in March 2017, which reportedly brought Tinashe to tears, as she felt she would be going backwards. Like all of Joyride’s previous singles, “Flame” never charted.
Tinashe then went back into the studio for ten months to record a third version of Joyride. After a turbulent three years of setbacks, Joyride would have a proper rollout; one that RCA would stick to. On January 18, 2018, Tinashe would release the last “lead” single from Joyride, “No Drama” featuring Offset, which reached the Top 10 on the Billboard R&B Songs chart. The second single, “Faded Love” featuring Future was released on February 12, 2018, and in March, Tinashe announced that Joyride would finally be released on April 13, 2018.
During the album’s first week of release, the critics consistently gave favorable reviews, but often remarked that the album was not cohesive. However, when considering the fact that the final version of the album is its third incarnation, this was not a surprise. Fortunately, as a fan with knowledge of the album’s tumultuous creation, it occurred to me that this lack of cohesion could be fixed. How? By combining Joyride and Nightride into one body of work. Since both projects consist of tracks that were recorded for the original Joyride, combining the two results in a story that flows perfectly, but only if arranged in a proper manner. And that’s where I present to you, Galaxyride:
It took me over an hour to figure out where each song belonged, but finally I came up with a perfect playlist. I wanted to ensure that Galaxyride had a good story, so I did my best to arrange it into a dramatic structure, complete with exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and finally, the dénouement. I looked at the material from the perspective of someone who experienced a turbulent relationship. For the exposition, the playlist starts by preparing the listener for a long 88-minute ride, which is a stark contrast from the original 37-minute length of Joyride. The beginning track is “Keep Your Eyes On The Road (Intro)” and from that point, the exposition shifts to “Joyride,” before rising action commences.
Rising action starts with “Lucid Dreaming” and is mostly composed of somber tracks from Nightride, which convey the mind of someone who is conflicted about love. Perhaps Galaxyride’s main character has experienced heartbreak recently and has now become cold and aloof. The individual ultimately decides to stop listening to the advice from those around them, finding that the perception that other’s have of him/her is misconstrued. The character ends up feeling more comfortable when alone. Rising action ultimately concludes with “He Don’t Want It.”
Galaxyride’s climax begins with “Ain’t Good For Ya (Interlude),” which gives the impression that danger is imminent. The songs in the climax paint a picture that sees the main character breaking out of the depressed and solitary mindset from before. Maybe the individual has decided to give love another shot, but greets potential lovers by warning them not to get attached, as this love is of a sinister nature. The main character is possibly only looking to use these potential lovers for sex, as he/she is trying to fill the void that was left by the person who broke their heart. But sex isn’t the only way this person is trying to cope. The character ends up delving into nightlife for distraction from his/her emotions. This leads the individual to a party, where they become wired from alcohol and drug use. While in this state, they meet a person at this party who is going through the same heartbreak, which is conveyed by “Faded Love,” marking the peak of the climax.
“You Can Stay Here Tonight” is where falling action begins. At this point, our main character has decided to bring their love interest home from the party. The two make love, but unfortunately for the protagonist, he/she has determined that the feelings they have for this person are stronger than they thought. The character ends up wondering if once again they have fallen in love, which is likely affirmative. Falling action ends with “Go Easy On Me (Interlude),” which sees our protagonist remind their new lover of their fragility, begging him/her to be gentile with them, as another heartbreak could have dire consequences.
In the dénouement, the final act begins with “Salt,” informing us that once again, our main character has had their heart broken, revealing that things with the lover from the party didn’t work out. The protagonist is back to self-medicating with alcohol and often finds themself dreaming about being with their ex-lover. The story finally ends with “Fires and Flames,” which sees our protagonist admit that their ex is toxic, but that they are struggling with letting go, hoping that they can spend one last night with this person.
Wondering why I chose to name this playlist Galaxyride? It’s actually pretty simple. Galaxies are filled with darkness and mystery, which is how I interpret the theme of this “story.” At the beginning of the playlist, listeners are unprepared for what they are getting themselves into. As they proceed through each track, they realize the entire playlist has a nocturnal and enigmatic vibe, just as I perceive a galaxy would. The title is meant to indicate that listening to the playlist takes one on an ominous, but alluring trip through the unknown.
Listen to the two projects in the form of this Galaxyride playlist and let us know what you think!