Music is a wonderful thing, it can lift us up when we are feeling down, and vice versa. As we face a pandemic, it’s nice to take a moment to just … dance. As Dua Lipa prepared the launch of her sophomore album, no one could have predicted the state the world would be in right now, but Dua Lipa was focused on releasing a new sound, an ode to disco for the world today. ”Future Nostalgia” was expected to be released on April 3, but toward the middle of March word was out that the album had leaked. Now as other artists were postponing releases and canceling tours, she was in a compromised position. On March 23, after a heartfelt Instagram Live, Dua Lipa announced that the release of the album would be pushed to March 27.
The first single and arguably the most important song on the album is “Don’t Start Now.” The song was well received by critics and is a fun dance track with disco influences. This was the song that alluded fans of Lipa that the album would have a disco sound. With the release of this single, Lipa proved that she could in fact produce a good dance track. “Don’t Start Now” quickly changed her reputation as a bad dancer. After the release of the single and music video, she went on to host a few live performances where she was able to put a stop to the previous comments about her. Her stage presence and dancing was a lot more polished, and while she is not a dancing master, she is definitely getting the world excited for a dance album.
An important song in the success of the album is “Physical.” Although there is no relationship to the hit song by Olivia Newton-John from the ‘80s, the track does have pop-house instrumentation that gives it an ‘80s vibe. In the music video Lipa once again proved her improved dancing abilities. After the release of this song and “Physical” as a single, Lipa was able to prove that “Future Nostalgia” could be a great dance record.
The last single before the album was released was “Break My Heart.” This song is one of the more obvious examples of a disco influence. The track is rich in production, with a clever use of strings and synth-electronic melodies. This dance track has a catchy and relatable chorus. This song explores the moment of realization where one notices they are “falling in love with the one who can break my heart.”
The title track of the album “Future Nostalgia” was released at the same time the album became available for pre-order. In the lyrics Lipa talks about changing the game and about how we are “not used to a female alpha.” These are high claims for anyone to make, but the song has an ‘80s pop-rock feel to it that makes the song feel both playful and imposing. This song really sets the whole album in motion.
Fans of disco started to pay attention to Lipa as it was stated that legendary award-winning producer Stuart Price would be a part of the production of “Future Nostalgia.” Price is no stranger to producing great dance tracks, from Kylie Minogue’s “Aphrodite” to Madonna’s “Confessions On a Dancefloor.” I was particularly excited for “Cool” as it is co-written with Swedish songwriter Tove Lo. The song has touches of electronic dance songs that Price is famous for, while the lyrics have a depth of romance and desire that distinguishes Lo. Another song that had Stuart Price as a producer is “Levitating,” which has a complex production that makes for a great power dance song. Another fan favorite is “Love Again,” which features a sample from White Town’s 1997 hit “Your Woman.” “Love Again” takes the iconic base of strings from White Town to a whole new level. This is another track that feels quintessentially disco. The lyrics have an attitude, and make the song very “in your face.” And the immaculate buildups to different changes of beat will make it a hit on any dancefloor.
Another highlight of the album is “Hallucinate.” Fans throughout social media claim this song as their favorite on the album, and rightfully so. The song starts slow and then builds up to a rich catchy beat. The breakdowns and overall production carry the promise of disco influence that Lipa promised when the album was announced.
Two songs that are evident clashes of influence are “Pretty Please,” and “Good in Bed.” The production is rich, but does not feel cluttered. I caught myself tapping my foot as I listened to the song despite it having a slower beat compared to the rest of the album. The beat is very playful and almost sounds innocent. In “Good in Bed,” however, the production was dialed down a bit, perhaps to have more emphasis on the fun lyrics.
The album closes with “Boys Will Be Boys.” This is the slowest track of the album. The track makes great use of melodies and of a choir for back vocals. Although this is the slowest beat in “Future Nostalgia” the message in the song is the strongest. The lyrics have a clear feminist message as Lipa sings, “boys will be boys, but girls will be women.” The song has a melodic instrumentation, impactful lyrics and is a strong way to finish an album.
In the Instagram Live where Lipa announced the release of “Future Nostalgia,” she mentioned that she wanted her music to allow people to be uplifted in dark times. I don’t know if these are the dark times she had envisioned, but she succeeded in her mission. The album is an upbeat masterpiece that is bound to make us dance in the darkness of isolation.
Verdict: Dua Lipa’s self-titled first album introduced us to an artist with great vision, and as we are introduced to the fun essence of “Future Nostalgia” we now see that Lipa’s artistic vision will stand the test of time. So when we look back to this period of isolation we will be able to look at it with future nostalgia.