Normani - "1:59" (feat. Gunna) [Apr 26] + DOPAMINE (TBD)

While I agree that including "Love Lies" and "Dancing With A Stranger" would be doing too much, seeing as they both already have parent albums, I think that it's fine to include "Motivation," seeing as it hasn't previously appeared on an album, was a Top 40 hit and is certified Platinum.

If Jason Derülo can include 2017's "Swalla" on his 2024 album, I don't see how 2019's "Motivation" is too old for a 2024 album.

Personally, I'd include "Waves," "Motivation," "Wild Side" and "Fair" on the album, even if it's just the streaming edition.

I think it's less about the age of the songs and more about the sound. Motivation would stick out like a sore thumb if the rest of the album follows the R&B sound of Wild Side etc (which absolutely should be included).

From a streaming point of view, it would be smart to throw everything she's got at this, but Motivation should definitely be digital only. She doesn't like the song either so I could see her not wanting to include it at all.
 
Motivation won't be on it. Cmon now. I'm not sure Wild Side will be either but I wouldn't be mad if it and Fair made the cut.
 
While I agree that including "Love Lies" and "Dancing With A Stranger" would be doing too much, seeing as they both already have parent albums, I think that it's fine to include "Motivation," seeing as it hasn't previously appeared on an album, was a Top 40 hit and is certified Platinum.

If Jason Derülo can include 2017's "Swalla" on his 2024 album, I don't see how 2019's "Motivation" is too old for a 2024 album.

Personally, I'd include "Waves," "Motivation," "Wild Side" and "Fair" on the album, even if it's just the streaming edition.
I would only include Wild Side and Fair if I was her. I think Motivation is not anywhere near where she is sonically right now and in my opinion it was a pretty mid song for her standards. Wild Side in comparison I had it on heavy rotation when it came out.
 
he / him
I think it's less about the age of the songs and more about the sound. Motivation would stick out like a sore thumb if the rest of the album follows the R&B sound of Wild Side etc (which absolutely should be included).

From a streaming point of view, it would be smart to throw everything she's got at this, but Motivation should definitely be digital only. She doesn't like the song either so I could see her not wanting to include it at all.
I only mentioned the age of the songs because the comment that I was replying to mentioned the age.

I do agree that "Motivation" is an outlier sonically, even amongst the material that she's already released. I'm not even particularly fond of the song myself. However, maybe I'm thinking too much like someone who works for a label rather than someone who enjoys listening to music. I don't know. I just feel like it's more important to establish herself during her debut era than to refine her artistry this early into her career. It would be a missed opportunity not taking advantage of the almost 400M streams of "Motivation."
 
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*clicks Watch thread*
 
I mean, it would not harm to add the whole bunch of songs as bonus tracks on Dopamine Digital Deluxe. It could add some sort of sense of closure to the whole 'unfinished' feeling saga for that first part of her solo career. A brand new, exciting head start.
 
1) My sadness that nobody referenced Checklist because its disgustingly low streams would not benefit the album sales one bit

2) My relief because Checklist would catch fire with the casuals and take all of the air out of the campaign when it became a year-defining smash
 
he / him
1) My sadness that nobody referenced Checklist because its disgustingly low streams would not benefit the album sales one bit

2) My relief because Checklist would catch fire with the casuals and take all of the air out of the campaign when it became a year-defining smash
I'm still pressed to this day that "Checklist," and to a lesser extent "Slow Down," were completely paid dust. "Checklist" always sounded like a smash to me. With Afrobeats becoming even more mainstream than in the past, "Checklist" might even make more sense now than it did when it was initially released.
 
I can’t get this interview to load after the first couple paragraphs, so I don’t know if it’s behind a paywall or if the site just sucks, but…



https://www.whowhatwear.com/fashion/celebrity/cover-features/normani-interview


The page loaded for me, but god what an awful website! I've pasted the interview (sans the very pretty pictures!) in the spoiler tag below for anyone who wants to read.

When’s the album coming?” This might be the most frequently asked question Normani gets these days. For the record, new music is coming. The artist just announced her debut album DOPAMINE this week. While other musicians might find the prospect of constantly being probed about their upcoming projects maddening, Normani isn’t like most artists. Despite being in the entertainment industry for over 12 years, the humble 27-year-old has found a way to make peace with the pressure. At least, that’s what I took away from our conversation on a chilly afternoon in January. With her box braids swaying slightly against the back of her baby-blue tee, Normani emphatically states, “Even though I’m quiet, I see everything. I see the comments on social media. I see people looking at me crazy—like, ‘Okay girl, it’s been how many years?’” Normani’s bright-red acrylic nails quickly tap her wrist to emphasize that time is ticking. Perhaps our sense of impatience is related to the fact that we’ve watched every moment of the singer’s career—from the early days of Fifth Harmony to her thrilling solo debut to her hits “Motivation” and “Wild Side” climbing the charts. I’m excited for what’s to come from the artist, so of course, I’ve been waiting anxiously for this moment. Let me make this clear now: The wait will have been worth it.



Days before our interview, I was given a top-secret link containing a sampling of songs from DOPAMINE. Being a click away from Normani’s newest music—one of the most anticipated albums of the last few years—didn’t fully hit me until I listened to the tracks. Much of the sound we’ve come to associate with Normani has been rooted in a hybrid of pop, hip-hop, and R&B with prominent bouncing beats and catchy hooks. The new songs feel as if they represent the bridge from where she was to where she is now in her life. It’s not a complete pivot, as they still have the signature elements of Normani’s sonic repertoire, but they indicate a subtle shift. “It’s a representation of my evolution. It’s the version of me that’s been through some things over the course of the last few years,” Normani tells me. Listening to this new collection of songs, you can hear the transformation. The lyrics are rooted in a woman who has found conviction in her journey, her craft, and, most importantly, herself. Growing up in the public eye, it’s easy to become beholden to how others perceive you, but it’s refreshing to hear that Normani has begun to free herself from that. The current state of social media has normalized access to the timelines of anyone’s life, subsequently giving us the false illusion that we’re entitled to comment on them as if they are our own. At the end of the day, however, the only person who has lived Normani’s journey is Normani.


“I know what I’ve been through. … For me, this upcoming album is not just about music coming out. It feels like a representation of everything I’ve gone through to get to this moment,” Normani says. “I know I needed time, experiences, and space coming out of [Fifth Harmony] in order to become the version of myself I needed to be. Without [all of that], I would not be able to exist within the creative space that I am in now. I would not be able to make the type of music I’m making now.” Taking more time to create anything in a capitalist society that values output over quality is a challenge, especially within the context of the music industry, which is subject to the whims of the algorithms on social media and streaming services.

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for me, this album is more than just music coming out. it feels like a representation of everything i've gone through to get to this moment

The expectations placed upon her forthcoming debut solo album make it easy for “fear to creep in,” as she says. Normani knows well that being in the spotlight inevitably comes with self-doubt. “I end up having certain conversations with myself where I’m thinking, ‘Is what everybody is saying true? Did I miss my moment? Did I wait too long? Do they still care?’” Normani says. In these moments, it’s her biggest supporters that remind her that she is enough. No one can argue that Normani’s fandom doesn’t have complete faith in her, but the faith she has in her craft, her higher calling, and herself has not always been as steadfast.


Faith, much like vocal cords, is a muscle that requires consistent effort to be built up, and for Normani, both have gotten stronger with time. Getting to the point where she can trust that her work is enough required Normani to acknowledge why she felt any doubt in the first place. “Growing up, I always felt like the other, so I put so much pressure on myself to be the absolute best that I could possibly be to be seen, heard, recognized, and acknowledged,” she admits. Being a Black woman, especially in the entertainment business, requires one to perpetually live up to standards that they have not set for themselves. Slowly, Normani has come to release those outside expectations. “You could say I’ve been on a quest to be able to recognize that all that I am is actually enough,” she says. In today’s fast-paced digital age, there is more value placed on how quickly art can be put out for others’ consumption rather than craft itself. When I ask Normani whether she feels she has to succumb to this industry expectation or is on her own divine timeline, she quickly confirms the latter: “Yeah, absolutely. … Everybody has an expected timeline, but I know that whenever I choose to release music, it’s going to be worth it for not only my fans but for me too.” For Normani, the journey is more important than the destination.



What that means now is taking the time to enjoy the process of making her art at every stage, from writing to producing to performing. “Music is me through and through,” she muses. “When I’m onstage, you can’t tell me that I’m not home. It’s just a part of who I am.” Part of redefining the joy in the journey comes from recognizing that she has been so tied to the outcome of her work rather than being in the moment. The revelation that her life is bigger than landing in the Billboard Top 100 came from grappling with the mortality of both her parents. While the world saw Normani setting out on a successful solo endeavor, her mother and father privately began cancer treatments. She recalls when her mother told her the news. The first thing she did was recognize for herself, “Fuck all of this. This is bigger than the music. It’s bigger than what I’m trying to accomplish. This is life or death. All I wanted to do was be there for them.” Despite this challenging period in her life, she still managed to release some of her most critically acclaimed tracks, including “Motivation,” “Dancing With a Stranger,” and “Love Lies.” Normani has come to see music not just as something tied to her identity but also as a way to bring light into otherwise dark situations—including the healing process for her parents. “Honestly, music got them through the cancer treatments. I remember being on FaceTime with my mom while she was undergoing chemo and her asking me, ‘How’s the studio today? How’s the music coming?’” she says. At this moment, tears start to form in her eyes. She stammers a bit but goes on to say, “As hard as it was for me to not be with them as much as I wanted to, ultimately, pushing through made the circumstances of the last few years feel a bit lighter for my parents.”



Going through that experience was a wake-up call for Normani. It restored her faith in the healing power of music and also her higher purpose—to use her art as a way to transform pain into light. “It was in those moments with my parents that made me realize that I have an opportunity to make an impact in this lifetime,” she says. “I know everything I’ve been through isn’t in vain. There’s always something that God wants me to see in the season. It’s all in service of making me better for all that he actually has in store for me.” Every challenge Normani has overcome has ensured her conviction in paving her own path. “I know what it feels like to be in a position to put out records that I don’t believe in. … I made a vow to myself, ‘If God gives me the second opportunity, I’m going to do things my way,’” she further explains. “I want to be able to sleep at night knowing that I put out my absolute best work. Despite what the world says about it, I put out something that I love and stand behind, especially because it’s taken so long.” That’s not to say that Normani regrets her past work. It’s just that the way she views the world now is different, and from her perspective, that’s a good thing. “I’ve come to understand that my best today isn’t going to be my best a year from now, and that’s okay. I have to allow myself opportunity and room to grow. I never want to feel like I’ve reached a point where I’ve got it all figured out, especially creatively,” she says.


Granting herself the space to evolve and grow has also allowed Normani to reevaluate the relationships in her life—from interpersonal ones with family, friends, and her creative team to the larger philosophical ones, like her relationship with the arts and even herself. It’s with the latter, though, that Normani has made the biggest strides toward entering what she refers to as her “season of freedom.” Being accountable for the moment she finds herself in has been the biggest marker of maturity for Normani, and it’s one she owns with her whole heart. “There’s some regret in realizing that the only person that has the power to stop you from becoming all that you’re intended to be is yourself,” she says. In some ways, doubt has influenced not just how she moves through the world but also how she processes her successes. “I’ve missed out on so many of my moments because of doubt,” she says. “I’ve been unable to celebrate my wins because I genuinely believed at that time that the goodness that’s coming to me was too good to be true.” She pauses, then continues, “Not just as a woman but as a Black woman, not just in this industry but in life, I’ve always felt my back has been up against the wall. I’m always fighting. So when something good happens, it’s hard for me to live in the moment. I’m always wondering, ‘Okay, at what point is this gonna take a turn?’” Her feelings represent what so many Black women face as they try to navigate their lives with trauma—it distorts everything, from one’s sense of self to the ability to be present in this moment. With time, Normani has found ways to move past doubt, first by honoring every aspect of her journey. “I’ve had to grant myself forgiveness for either not making changes quicker in certain areas or not acting sooner on certain things. I’ve had to acknowledge that I did the best that I could possibly do at the time,” she says.

Brandon Maxwell bodysuit and skirt, Bulgari necklace, ring, and bracelet, Giuseppe Zanotti shoes.
Although it’s important to acknowledge the past, Normani fully understands that you have to continue to move forward even if you don’t feel ready. “In spite of the fact that I’m still learning, I don’t always have to have everything figured out in order to move. Sometimes, you need to actually take that leap of faith, even if it doesn’t make sense,” she says. Taking chances means expanding her horizons sonically and setting her sights on other creative avenues, like acting.

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in spite of the fact that i'm still learning, i don't always have to have everything figured out in order to move. sometimes, you need to actually take that leap of faith, even if it doesn't make sense.

Last month, Normani made her Sundance Film Festival debut in the anthology horror-thriller-comedy Freaky Tales alongside heavy hitters like Pedro Pascal, Dominique Thorne, and Jay Ellis. It’s a big step for the star, especially since her only time in the acting arena has been voicing an animated character in Disney’s The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder series and starring in her own music videos. When probed about what it means for her to take this next step, her eyes light up, and it’s clear she’s stepped into an era in her life where she feels free to explore. “I see the transformation that acting has helped me to achieve. It’s pushed my ability to really dive inward. It really forced me to be vulnerable in a way that’s different from music,” she says of the experience. Acting has been therapeutic for Normani, proving to her that she can take risks and succeed at them. “It forced me to accept those parts of myself that maybe I would initially think of as flaws but are actually labeled as beautiful and essential toward getting the story across,” she adds.


This newfound sense of freedom has also impacted her relationship with fashion. For this new album, she enlisted the help of Kwasi Fordjour, the creative co-director behind Beyoncé’s Black Is King, to cultivate a new, stripped-back look that reflects her evolution.

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we're multifaceted as human beings, especially as women, so the beauty of fashion is that it gives us the opportunity to not be linear.

Fordjour has been instrumental in reminding Normani that she does not need all the bells and whistles to be felt, seen, or heard. With those reminders, Normani has been able to step into her power and take chances with her style. “We’re multifaceted as human beings, especially as women, so the beauty of fashion is that it gives us the opportunity to not be linear,” she says.

Normani now owns every part of who she is: her art, her time, her look. In the last moments of our conversation, she professes, “The album feels like liberation, like a season of freedom. Not just because the record is finally coming out, but because it’s a celebration of everything I have been through to get to this moment. During this process, I heard God say to me, ‘Trust me. I know you’re afraid, but trust me anyway. Dare to trust me anyway. Now is the time.’”
 
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