Pop music has become a much more respected art form in the past decade. Records like Taylor Swift’s 1989, Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion, and Robyn’s Honey have attained the acclaim usually reserved for more critically favoured musical genres. Dua Lipa’s an obvious candidate to cross from mainstream radio to critical credibility. She enjoyed a provocative duet with St. Vincent at the 2019 Grammy ceremony, while her unusually low voice for a female vocalist and eastern European heritage make for an interesting pop star.
Lipa was born in London, but her parents are from Kosovo, where her father was the lead singer and guitarist in a rock band. She’s also dabbled in other art forms – she’s worked as a model and is due to appear in the 2022 film Argyll.
Dua Lipa Album Reviews
Dua Lipa started recording her debut album back in 2013. The long gestation period, coupled with the variety of guest stars, producers, and co-writers means that it feels more like a compilation than a studio project. Hearing it after the tightly constructed pop of Future Nostalgia makes it less impressive. Nevertheless, it successfully introduced Dua Lipa to the world – at the time of writing it was the most-streamed album by a female artist on Spotify, probably abetted by the large volume of tracks on the extended editions.
Dua Lipa is a little generic in places, but the songs are generally strong. Lipa’s low register is effective on songs like ‘Hotter Than Hell’ and ‘Begging’. I enjoy Lipa’s vocals on the forays into acoustic material like ‘Homesick’ and ‘Thinking ‘Bout You’, but most of the appeal is in the dance-pop tracks ‘Be The One’ and ‘New Rules’. Miguel guests on ‘Lost In Your Light’, while Coldplay’s Chris Martin contributes surprisingly enjoyable vocals on ‘Homesick’.
Dua Lipa is a very solid pop album, but she would take things up a few notches with her followup.
Future Nostalgia is Dua Lipa’s sophomore album. Its pop has a clear influence from 1980s synth-pop and traces of disco, like the string stabs in ‘Love Again’. Lipa particularly excels at upbeat pop songs, my favourite of which is ‘Levitating’ – the descending vocal melody suits Lipa’s range, and the hand-claps are invigorating.
There are other terrific pop tunes too – ‘Cool’ uses the husky textures of Lipa’s voice to great effect, while ‘Break My Heart’ samples INXS’s ‘Need You Tonight’. The opening title track steers close to disco, with Lipa charismatic in the rap section, while ‘Don’t Start Now’ has a funky bassline and a glistening verse melody.
The upbeat pop songs are great, but Future Nostalgia wavers when Dua Lipa diversifies. The lustful simmer of ‘Pretty Please’, the gimmicky ‘Good in Bed’, and the limp closer ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ are all flat spots in an already brief record. There’s also a sense that Lipa hasn’t yet developed enough of an individual personality – her lyrics don’t go far beyond generic tales of lust, even if the record’s got enough great tunes to stand proudly.
Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia doesn’t quite have the consistency of other recent acclaimed pop albums, but it hits some great high points.
Best Dua Lipa Songs
Don’t Start Now
Be The One
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Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person.
Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate both Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Based in Fleet Street (New Zealand), he's been writing this blog since around 2000. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.
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