Tate McRae got an inkling that her latest single would be huge the night before it was released.
The 20-year-old pop singer began teasing snippets of “Greedy” on TikTok in August, prior to the single arriving in full on Sept. 15. McRae was in the middle of a North American headlining tour in mid-September, and decided to unveil “Greedy” at her Sept. 14 show at The Fillmore in Philadelphia.
“We put it into the set list, and in rehearsals, I was just so nervous and terrified, because it was such a different sound for me,” McRae tells Billboard. “And then the second we premiered it in Philly, the crowd reaction was crazy.” McRae was especially blown away that the crowd knew most of the lyrics to “Greedy,” even though she had only been posting teasers of the track. “It was just very, very validating,” she says.
McRae has enjoyed crossover hits prior to “Greedy”: The Calgary native scored a top 20 Billboard Hot 100 hit in 2020 with “You Broke Me First,” while singles like “She’s All I Wanna Be” and the Regard/Troye Sivan collaboration “You” also made their presences felt at top 40 radio. Yet “Greedy” is something different, a propulsive self-empowerment anthem built around a firecracker of a pop hook that finds McRae dipping in and out of a falsetto while exuding unshakeable confidence.
The song has earned 71.3 million on-demand official U.S. streams to date, according to Luminate, and by peaking at No. 14 on the Hot 100 thus far (it’s No. 17 on the current tally), “Greedy” is already McRae’s highest-charting hit on the chart. More important to McRae than the commercial achievements, however, is how the song has expanded her sound and pop persona, offering a commanding vocal take amid whooping sound effects and a danceable beat.
“I think I have a pretty good grasp on what my fans like to hear and what they enjoy,” McRae explains. “But I don’t think you ever really know. I was like, ‘This is a big risk for me as an artist’ — turning 20, I felt like I had to make a big change in my life and my sound. And you can only see so much on TikTok. You never know which direction it’s gonna go, or if it’s going to translate. So it’s been pretty special.”
McRae says that she typically writes songs by herself in her bedroom, so creating “Greedy” in the studio with pop veterans Ryan Tedder, Amy Allen and Jasper Harris felt like an effective crash course. “I just try to be a sponge as much as possible, and just see where their instincts go,” she explains. McRae adds that she and that same trio of songwriters have penned a lot more songs together, potentially for her next full-length. “It feels like a little family,” she says, “and we’re just like trying out new sounds and being ballsy and being like, ‘How do we take a bigger risk and say something different?’”
Meanwhile, the “Greedy” music video, which is up to 22 million views on YouTube, highlights a different, yet personally familiar, side of McRae. Set in an empty hockey arena, the clip gives the singer an opportunity to showcase her dance skills — with breakneck choreography, courtesy of the esteemed Sean Bankhead — years after becoming a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance.
“I was a competitive dancer until I was like 17 years old, and it was everything to me,” she says. “And then I had no idea how to dance and sing at the same time, because they were just opposite sides of my brain — one was this emotional teenager who needed to express herself, and then the other side was this super-competitive athletic dancer. So it was really cool for me to be able to put my two passions together.”
Having wrapped up her headlining tour earlier this month, McRae says that she’ll be spending the rest of the year finalizing the next phase of her career — logging more studio time, filming more videos and finishing a body of work to follow last year’s debut album I Used to Think I Could Fly. But she couldn’t have asked for a better start to that phase than “Greedy,” and the way it represents what she wants for herself as a recording artist and performer.
“I feel like for the first time in my career — with the visuals and the single art and the music video and the song — it feels like 100% my vision,” says McRae. “I can look at it on Spotify and I can look at it on YouTube and be like, ‘I’m so proud of this.’ And I think that’s why I’m having a really good time. I’m working beside people that I really admire, and people that really respect me as a young woman, and that feels very satisfying … I just feel very lucky right now, and excited for what’s to come.”
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