Best New Music: Elaine offers romantic assurance on glossy single, “Shine”
Best New Music: Elaine offers romantic assurance on glossy single, “Shine”

Best New Music: Elaine offers romantic assurance on glossy single, “Shine”

A gleaming pop song

Elaine seemingly crept out of nowhere to become one of the most celebrated young voices in South Africa’s thriving R&B scene. Her 2019 debut EP, ;Elements’, instantly situated the smoky-voiced singer as a divulger of vulnerable moments, detailing the emotions attached to them, and how these experiences affect our perspective on romantic ideals. After signing a major label deal with Columbia Records in the previous year, Elaine dropped “Right Now” as the sole release of 2021, a balmy, self-liberating salvo in the aftermath of snatching yourself from an unideal entanglement.

Where her debut EP revelled in being love-struck, with heartache evident in every lyric about unrequited or unclear feelings, there was a cocky sense of clarity on “Right Now,” which may have prompted speculations that future output would chock the middle finger at unabashed love. Well, that’s not even remotely the case on her new single, “Shine,” a song where Elaine completely devotes herself to being supportive of her partner’s happiness. Similar “You’re the One,” this new single personifies that consuming feeling of knowing you’ve found your person, but without the air of uncertainty that haunted that breakout hit.

On “Shine,” Elaine offers the wholesome warmth of assurance, the type that comes from being pretty confident that those sentiments are reciprocated from the other direction. As she’s done all through her small but significant catalogue, her writing is plain and direct, making sure that her intent is matched by a frankness that makes her music relatable.

There’s no way to misconstrue the supportiveness in lines like, “All eyes locked on you, are they seeing what I’m seeing, babe?/Like diamonds, flashing lights/Your aura so bright when I’m near you.” It’s not all frictionless, though—“I just hope that they know you’re mine,” she coos—because you can only be 100% certain of your own devotion.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Shining Star (@elaineofficial_)

Co-produced by Zeke and American R&B stalwart Stwo, who has worked with Drake, Jeremih, Roy Woods and more, “Shine” is a speculative attempt at furthering the singer’s international reach, considering that the minimalist, contemporary R&B slant of her previous work already caught some significant ears stateside. Beyond the career ambitions, the song does Elaine’s expand the sonic purview. It’s her most upbeat song yet, assuredly sidestepping her foundation of moody chords, minor key melody, and skittering 808 bass, for a gleaming pop song.

Pulling in cues from Funk and synthwave, “Shine” is glossy and bouncy, a more maximalist canvas that brings out an ebullient performance from Elaine, as she even plays around with her falsetto and the upper register of her voice in restrained but notable bursts. It all feels very fitting, especially as “Shine” spotlights the ongoing evolution of Elaine from minimalist R&B singer to diverse savant. At the heart of this marquee change, though, she’s still very much in her vulnerable element, wearing her heart on her sleeves and imbuing soul into every sung line.

Watch the video for “Shine” here.