Dua Lipa - Radical Optimism

Maybe it's the stan goggles/ear muffs but I really can't hear the similarities with Future Nostalgia. Her last album was the archetype of a singles driven project where each song had a different vibe. Yeah it was all 'nostalgia' but the songs were sonically distinct and it was the concept and aesthetic that tied everything together.

From what we've heard this era there is a tight sonic soundscape that she spread all through the singles and I'm sure will flourish even more when the whole project is released.
 
I’m surprised by how much I’ve seen Training Season getting slated. It’s a perfectly good single that just didn’t get much effort.
Yes. I'm still replaying it. The chorus is immaculate and Kevin's production on it is incredible. I still think the Houdini/Training Season combo is on par with Don't Start Now/Physical.
 
he/him
I agree that people should really have their expectations in check at this point, but I think the earlier expectations about a bigger shift in sound––at least on this forum––came from things she was saying for awhile before the era started. For example, this tangent I posted from one of her podcast episodes:



There was also that NY Times Style Magazine feature last August that mentioned the follwing:



Items like that, plus the perception that "Dance the Night" felt like a final hurrah to that disco pop sound (and she has said as much), a new production team, and finally the fact that the last album was released four years ago... I think it's totally understandable that people were expecting a more pronounced shift.

It'll be interesting to see what the full album has in store. I've always thought the extra verse in the Houdini extended mix was a whole new vibe for her; wonder if there's more of that coming.

I mean, personally, I do feel like it’s distinct enough. But with the way some people in here have been acting, it seems like they were expecting a more radical shift, and… I don’t really see Dua as being the sort of artist leading that sort of charge as a pop star? Dd. And that’s completely fine. But it feels more like people’s disappointment is stemming from whatever they’ve built up in their own heads about her rather vague statements, and that’s very much a them problem than it is a Dua one. I do think there will likely be some surprises, but for the most part, I’m just expecting and hoping for a good album (which it’s shaping up to be!)
 
he/him
I’ve said this before, but at base, she’s a dance pop artist. That’s her genre, that’s her M.O. Each album might have a different flavor/twist, but that DNA is still always going to be there. She’s making songs for pop radio at the end of the day, so expecting some real ~sonic departure~ is just unrealistic. Give it a couple more albums, then maybe, but she’s banking and building on hitmaker status right now. And I don’t think that’s a negative thing - not everyone needs to be reinventing their sound entirely each album, and not everyone does. The fact she’s seen as a peer of big pop artists who do that is a compliment in and of itself given where we were before Future Nostalgia, but it doesn’t change anything for her individually. She’s making the music she wants to make.

That aside, my real issue with the discussion at large across socials is the implication that the songs not being enough of a departure for people’s tastes = / = them being bad. It’s just not the case! She is making killer pop music which is really not as easy as it might seem.
 
I also feel like her talking points during FN made more sense to people, which may be coloring the perception of how she’s selling this one. She was citing the nostalgic sounds of the music her parents exposed her to: Moloko, Jamiroquai, Blondie, Prince, INXS. It all made perfect sense with the music and a lot her styling too.

I mean, personally, I do feel like it’s distinct enough. But with the way some people in here have been acting, it seems like they were expecting a more radical shift, and… I don’t really see Dua as being the sort of artist leading that sort of charge as a pop star? Dd. And that’s completely fine. But it feels more like people’s disappointment is stemming from whatever they’ve built up in their own heads about her rather vague statements, and that’s very much a them problem than it is a Dua one. I do think there will likely be some surprises, but for the most part, I’m just expecting and hoping for a good album (which it’s shaping up to be!)
Yeah, tea. The first two singles are quite distinct to me now that we've had them for so long, with that genuinely weird riff Houdini is based off really feeling like a big and successful swing at something fresh.
 
I know no one cares, but it’s not only that these songs don’t really break new ground—plenty of artists have a lane and stick to it and that’s great. Something about all of these songs just doesn’t work for me. They don’t hook like Dua’s best stuff. Nothing has me reaching for the replay button at all.

The impression that they’re mostly more of the same just aggravates that for me. Add in the fact that Kevin and Danny can be so much more creative than this just makes it all feel like a bunch of missed opportunities. Eh. I’ll leave it there.
 

Rmx

He/Him/His
I know no one cares, but it’s not only that these songs don’t really break new ground—plenty of artists have a lane and stick to it and that’s great. Something about all of these songs just doesn’t work for me. They don’t hook like Dua’s best stuff. Nothing has me reaching for the replay button at all.

The impression that they’re mostly more of the same just aggravates that for me. Add in the fact that Kevin and Danny can be so much more creative than this just makes it all feel like a bunch of missed opportunities. Eh.

I can't put this any other way, I don't mean this in a shady way in the slightest, but I'm genuinely sorry that the songs haven't clicked for you because I have been getting my absolute life and I'm just sad you're missing out on that :(
 
I checked in with my two gays who stan Dua hardcore and then several casual fans today about the song. All of them said either okay or actively bad fff. Time to find new friends I fear.
 

Rmx

He/Him/His
I checked in with my two gays who stan Dua hardcore and then several casual fans today about the song. All of them said either okay or actively bad fff. Time to find new friends I fear.

For real? It's all over my Insta. Every gay and their mum is using Illusion on their story or new shirtless selfie or whatever.
 
He/Him/His
Firstly, I don't think anything Dua said was particularly misleading. We deluded ourselves into wanting some psychedelic-rave fantasy based on Instagram minutiae because that is what we, as Popjustice users and terminally online queers, are wont to do. The songs are hardly brimming with the discofied nostalgia of the last album. If there are hints of, say, an ABBA melody in the chorus of Training Season, it doesn't mean it sounds like a disco song. All three singles sound contemporary and rooted in the now. I don't think you can trace them back to specific eras the way you could with Physical or Levitating. They're simply confident, current dance-pop songs with really, really nice production that does have a slight off-kilter wiggle. Yay!

That leads me to my second point, which is that this is only Dua's third album. Yes, she's been releasing music for almost a decade(!!!!!), but she's only in the last handful of years been able to settle into her artistic identity. In my opinion, she's refining her lane as an involved songwriter and driving force in the creative process. And honestly? There aren't many pop girls of this breed doing it at this caliber. I guess it's subjective. To me, this era is proving that Future Nostalgia is anything but a fluke, and that Dua has very comfortably slipped into the role of this generation's dance-pop ingenue. She only gets better.
 
I'm a little bothered with the 'dance pop artist' comment. There was clearly an elevation from self-titled to Future Nostalgia that showed that she can push herself in many different directions and approaches all within eleven tracks. There wasn't a formula, not even really cohesion, just an incredibly solid array of tracks made into an album.

Kevin and Danny can do better and have done better producing. It's the predictability that is throwing me the most. I wasn't expecting some visionary, magnum opus but it's her least interesting music thus far. Which shouldn't be the case but here we are.

If Bebe Rexha or Ava Max released "Illusion", would you even bat an eye?
 
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