The English star's latest album is a fantastic collection of retro funk-pop.
Ever since first declaring her "New Rules" in 2017, Dua Lipa's music has come to represent independence, self-worth, and taking no s--t.
In the grand scheme of things, the English-Albanian singer rose to mainstream prominence fairly recently. But she first started uploading covers to YouTube ten years ago, and her new album, Future Nostalgia, isn't her first rodeo; she knows exactly what she wants, how she wants it, and how to get it. A thrilling dose of funk-pop, Future Nostalgia is the sound of a rising star long ready to stake her claim in the scene.
The title of the record itself even echoes the prestige Lipa has rightfully earned for herself. This is an album that you'll remember years from now, she seems to assert, and the album's glossy aesthetic borrows a handful of yesteryear's trends. The staccato strings of early single "Don't Start Now" demand to be spun at disco dance parties, while the jazzercise vigor of "Physical" nods to Olivia Newton-John's eponymous 1981 hit. "Hallucinate" parrots the oonzt oonzt of the late-2000s bloghouse boom that spawned DJs like Calvin Harris (who, a decade later, would enlist Lipa for their Top 40 hit, "Electricity"). Channeling the brilliance of predecessors like Madonna and Kylie Minogue with a modern twist, Future Nostalgia affirms that Lipa is one of the most important names in recent pop history.
Dua Lipa - Don't Start Now (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com
Much of Future Nostalgia sounds fit for parties and club settings. "When this comes on, I want people to be like, 'OK, we're doing shots,'" Lipa said of "Physical," and her music has always radiated the cool-girl energy that would make you want to follow her on a ladies' night out. But past its disco-ball glow, Future Nostalgia boasts anthems of autonomy and confidence. On "Don't Start Now"—the kind of song that makes you want to lock down a boyfriend just to kick him to the curb—she declares to a pitiful ex that she's "so moved on, it's scary." On the braggadocious title track, she teases: "No matter what you do, I'm gonna get it without ya / I know you ain't used to a female alpha." Even when Lipa is lovestruck, like on the sizzling slow-jammer "Cool," she asserts that she's still "in control" of what she does.
During the album's latter half, Lipa delves further into her romantic side. But even at her most sensitive and vulnerable, sentimental moments like "Break My Heart" come with an impressive poise: "Had to love and lose a hundred million times / Had to get it wrong to know just what I like," she sings, her tone imparting that she won't settle for anything less.
Dua Lipa - Physical (Official Video) www.youtube.com
Future Nostalgia's final moments, however, feel like the club has suddenly been shut down. Slow-burning closer "Boys Will Be Boys" attempts to make a profound statement against sexism, although its half-baked jabs border on cringeworthy. "I know that there will be a man around to save the day / And that was sarcasm, in case you needed it mansplained," she coos, which sounds more like what a man would think mansplaining is. As a girls' choir comes in for the oversimplified chorus—"Boys will be boys / But girls will be women"—the song is a well-intended gesture that mostly winds up awkward and credulous. Female empowerment anthems don't have to be so reductively lucid; Lipa's most genuine girl-power moments meet her in the middle of the dance floor.
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Using a Black dialect isn't a meme—it's cultural appropriation.
As Black Lives Matter protests have rightfully taken the world by storm over the past couple of months, we're long overdue for thorough evaluations of just how often aspects of Black heritage have been co-opted by white audiences.
It should be obvious that much of fashion and music as we know it today was invented by Black people. We (hopefully) all know by now that we can no longer accept Blackface and use of the n-word by non-Black people as the norm—and Internet users have tried "canceling" offenders in the public eye, with varying degrees of success.
In an Instagram post, she muses on the topic of COVID-19 as "the great equalizer," from a marble bathtub full of rose petals.
In an Instagram post over the weekend, Madonna preached about COVID-19 as "the great equalizer" from the security of a marble bathtub full of goo that keeps her immortal.
Looking almost unrecognizable to fans of her earlier stages of transformation, the 61-year-old music icon spoke of the coronavirus' lack of concern for human concepts like wealth or talent or race, all while hunched in an almost fetal position in the elixir that is slowly transforming her into an ageless being of pure net worth. Just like us, the "Queen of Pop" is stuck inside one of her many massive, luxurious homes and knows that we're all dealing with the same struggle.
That's why she has been sharing tweets and posts tagged #quarantine and #quarantine #staysafe and #becreative. She knows that if we don't keep our minds occupied with creative endeavors, we'll just spend our days wandering from room to room to one of the other dozens of rooms in our sprawling homes. Madonna knows that we can't all be as lucky as the supermarket workers who get to leave their homes and interact with ravenous crowds of toilet-paper hoarders for mandatory extended shifts as the pandemic spreads. The rest of us, like Madonna, only have the ten-thousand square foot homes that we own outright and enough money that we will never have to worry about being laid off, struggling to pay our bills, or being able to afford literally anything we ever want—around $570 million.
"We're all in the same boat," she said to the millions of Americans who were suddenly laid off and signed up for unemployment in the last week. "And if the ship goes down, we're all going down together." It's this kind of deep insight that can only happen as the elixir's blend of nutrients and rose petals works its miraculous changes, reforming her skull around her brain and completing the final stage of the transformation that will allow Madonna to go into a restorative dormant mode for the next hundred years—only to emerge when the Morlocks rule the earth and she can control them with her mind.
She posted her musings on Sunday with the text "No-Discrimination-Covid-19!!" It's a powerful message of equality from a woman who will instantly have her own medical team living in her home the moment she feels feverish. And when that tub full of goo does its job, and she finally does ascend to godhood among the freakish dregs of post-apocalyptic humanity, it's such a comfort to know that she thinks of us all as equals.
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