Release Date: February 11th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Future Nostalgia
- Don’t Start Now
- Pretty Please
- Love Again
- Break My Heart
- Good In Bed
- Boys Will Be Boys
- Fever (feat. Angele)
- We’re Good
- Prisoner (feat. Miley Cyrus)
- If It Ain’t Me
- That Kind Of Woman
- Not My Problem (feat. JID)
- Levitating (feat. Da Baby)
- Un Dia (One Day) [feat. J Balwin, Bad Bunny and Tainy)
It’s very tough to know exactly what to do, because we’ve never been through anything like this before, and so I was trying to understand what the right thing to do was. I obviously wanted to put the album out, but I also didn’t want to put it out at a time when people were really suffering. And so I was kind of just going back and forth with the idea of moving it back in the hopes that when the weather gets a bit warmer, as some people were saying, we might hopefully see the virus go. So I was just kind of thinking about maybe to put it out at a happier time. But I then also decided that I’ve already been waiting for so long to put this record out, and I think the fans are really excited for me to put the record out. And so I just thought I’d be doing them a disservice to delay it, especially during this time.
It is a very happy album. I feel like on my first record, the easiest thing for me to tap into and felt I could write about was my sadness, really. like those are the memories that linger longest. With this record, I felt like I could get out of my comfort zone, almost, and tell myself that it’s okay to write happy things and really write about how I feel in the moment. And if there is anything even remotely sad now, I’ve been saying it’s a celebration of vulnerability. This album is purely about dancing and having fun and being free and being in love. And the album definitely doesn’t stop in pace. It doesn’t really give me a second to breathe, so I’ll be grateful for the songs from my previous album when I’m on tour.
For me, at least, when I hear something that makes me feel good, it takes me away from whatever situation is kind of going on around me and puts me very present in the moment with the music. That’s all I could really hope for, especially at a time like now, that that would be of some help to someone, at least.
One of the most unexpected artists that I have recently been inspired by and impacted by, is up and coming singer/songwriter and British pop star Dua Lipa. I know, I know, Dua has been in the mainstream media for a number of years now, and she’s been dominating the charts. Dua has received a number of accolades recently- inclusive of, according to Wikipedia, “…two Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, two MTV Europe Music Awards, one MTV Video Music Award, and an American Music Award. In 2020, Billboard honoured Lipa with the Powerhouse Award, awarded to the act whose music dominated in their respective year through streaming, sales, and radio…”. She’s been everywhere in the mainstream… and yet as it has been only in the past couple of years that I myself have been immersed in mainstream music- and even then deliberately bypassing current ‘pop’ music; it’s only been the past week or so since I have intentionally immersing myself into Future Nostalgia, Dua’s second album- which just released again this past week as the expanded edition- Future Nostalgia (The Moonlight Edition). With the standard edition at 11 tracks, and the deluxe version a whopping 19 offerings; there was some back and forth as to whether the standard edition of the album would be released last year or not (because of the COVID-19 pandemic!). However, people need music as escapism and as a means of finding an outlet to express themselves and their issues- and a number of listens from this release reminds me that Dua has set out to do exactly what she wanted. To release an album where we can just dance, think a bit, and not worry about the future of the world as a whole. Sure, we need to worry and plan for the future in a responsible sense, and a sense that which we can say that we’re not living in the moment- but at a time when all around us is so, so, so bleak… Future Nostalgia brings a smile to our faces, and that is all that we could ever ask or hope for.
Dua Lipa was an artist that I was initially hesitant to write about, to even listen to. I had heard about the song “Be The One” on the radio (Hope 103.2 played the song a number of times!), however I was under the impression that mainstream pop was bad. Yet because I decided that objectively Dua had to be in my blog series about ‘up and coming’ artists over the next 5-10 years (she fits more in my series than in Jon’s!)- and one look at her main Wikipedia page, as well as her discography Wikipedia page confirms this fact; it was time to face my apprehensions square on, and dive deep into Future Nostalgia. The result is a musical experience and journey that I would never expected… an album that is surprisingly cohesive, and lyrically and thematically with something inspiring and hopeful to say. Don’t call me a Dua fan yet… but this album has me appreciating the British pop star more and more, as we are immersed in one of the more jovial, cheerful, moving and impactful albums in recent memory. This doesn’t mean that I’ll instantly dive deep into all of mainstream pop… but it does mean that I’m more aware that good mainstream albums are out there- you just need to take the plunge and a step of faith sometimes.
It’s been a while since the standard edition of Future Nostalgia released, so my analysis of these songs might not interest you that much, considering how you all might’ve already heard these songs and know them back to front; however for me listening to the album for the first time, I’m instantly intrigued by the musicality of it all- the meshing of 80’s music with the dance beats of today. Maybe it’s because I’ve been immersed in a number of 80’s and 90’s artists from Jon’s blogs like Johnny Farnham, Bryan Adams, The Corrs, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Shania Twain, Phil Collins, Tina Arena, Sheryl Crow, Hanson, Sarah McLachlan, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Amy Grant (these three I’ve been immersed with since basically childhood!); but there’s something about Future Nostalgia that makes it current yet super sentimental. The title track opens proceedings, and with a big bang; with Dua musically combining current beats and 80’s music, creating a unique sound. Lyrically, the melody is directed to the haters or people who don’t understand and do not want to understand her success- with Dua reminding us that ‘…I know you’re dying trying to figure me out, my name’s on the tip of your tongue, keep running your mouth, you want the recipe, but can’t handle my sound…’, a subtle dig at those who can’t handle her success, and a reminder that artists at the top right now are at the top for a reason- and while it’s great to be immersed in the artists of yesteryear, perhaps an eye to the future as well isn’t a bad idea to have at all.
And what a ‘future’ it is, as Dua imparts to us a variety of relatable topics. “Don’t Start Now”, a proper current dance anthem, speaks about one person moving on from a relationship, and reminding the other person that they’ve moved on, so as not to startle them, so that they can have time to adjust, and not be taken by left field; while album highlight and energetic positive anthem “Cool” describes the honeymoon phase of a new relationship, with Dua relaying the intense feelings and longing to stay in that space forever even though it’s not physically possible- and this song could be about the feelings we all have about life pre-pandemic if we think of this track as a metaphor! “Physical”, which borrows themes and musical elements from Olivia Newton John’s song of the same name, also relays the sacredness of a relationship that is secure in every way, and it is the confidence in which Dua sings and declares this power anthem, that has me respecting her or the more; while the EDM and synth driven “Levitating” also describes the feeling of intense happiness of a new relationship (again which could be extrapolated to any meaningful and satisfying friendship or familial relationship).
“Pretty Please”, a slowed down acoustic type track which essentially is about physically pleasing your partner, is a track which I believe to be a tad bit explicit and also unnecessary; however “Hallucinate” and “Love Again”, both BOPs in their own right, more than make up for this mishap; with the former being a toe-tapping potential crowd pleaser about loving someone so much that your perception of reality is altered (in a good or bad way- and is this song a warning or a comfort?), and the latter being a song of reassurance that out of the ashes can come beauty and light and happiness, that ‘…I finally found someone, I’ll sink my teeth in disbelief, ’cause you’re the one that I want, I can’t believe there’s something left inside my chest anymore, but…you got me in love again…’. “Break My Heart” is next, and is a song that I’m sure we’ve all heard, as Dua questions the validity of her relationships, asking ‘…am I falling in love with the one that could break my heart? Oh no (oh no), I was doing better alone, but when you said, “Hello”, I knew that was the end of it all, I should’ve stayed at home, ’cause now there ain’t no letting you go…’. As we humans go through self-worth and identity issues quite regularly, this song is somewhat therapeutic, as Dua reminds us that it’s ok to doubt, however taking a stand either way is needed sometimes, and whether you are hurt and life is messy or you’re safe and life’s all rainbows and sunshine… at least you’re not indecisive and have made your own choice and travelled your own path.
“Good In Bed” is as explicit and as out-there as they get, but despite the subject matter- there is a deeper meaning here, as we are reminded that going into a relationship because of the physical nature isn’t the way to go- and we are cautioned that for relationships to last, they need to be based on more aspects than just sex; this track is a warning for all of us to ensure our relationships last on every level. “Boys Will Be Boys”, a female empowerment song, ends the standard edition album, and dives deep into the notion that girls will always feel inferior and scared and unsure with men around. It always has been this way; and this is a reminder and a challenge to all of the men to step up and make sure that the women in our lives feel safe, accepted, loved, and wanted. The summery chilled out “Fever” is next, and is the first of the ‘new’ tracks, as Dua powerfully relays with French singer Angele that she has a ‘fever’, presumably a metaphor for being besotted with something far beyond human comprehension. It’s a vague track lyrically, and doesn’t help that half is in French, yet the sentiment of being overly fixated on something, reminds us that being so tunnel vision can be good or bad, depending on the situation. And as we are presented with a song that has the power to brighten our day or to dampen our spirits; Dua and Angele have to be commended by making this track near flawless and exciting to listen to.
“We’re Good”, a track with a Jamaican flair, reminds us of someone downplaying the break up of their relationship, as they’re constantly reminding themselves of the fact that they’re fine- yet this song shows us that break ups happen and they’re a part of life, and we mustn’t minimise their importance in our growth; while the confronting and eye-opening “Prisoner” features Miley Cyrus, and speaks about an abusive relationship where one party manipulates the other, making them feel like a prisoner. A track in which we all need to listen to and be warned about, so as to ensure our own relationships, romantic or platonic, do not eventuate along those same lines, “Prisoner” is surprisingly hard-hitting, and is very much needed in society as we hear what is wrong with relationships today. “If It Ain’t Me”, which delves into insecurities and feelings of self-worthlessness, and “That Kind Of Woman”, which delves into proving yourself worthy in a relationship above those insecurities, remind us all that feelings of inadequacy and shame and brokenness is normal- yet it’s how we combat those feelings which determine the kind of person we are underneath and the kind of person people around us view us as; while the in-your-face and intense “Not Your Problem” features rapper JID, and is as harsh as can be, telling ex’s that their devotion and love for us is not our problem anymore- a declaration that even I can’t say about the people I hate- but I guess is still valid as it’s part of Dua’s feelings at the time. The Moonlight edition of Future Nostalgia then ends with a remix of “Levitating” with a catchy yet also shoehorned and out-of-place rap from Da Baby, as well as “Un Dia”, sung with Bad Bunny, J Balwin and Tainy, about the hope that an ex can love them one day. It’s a melancholy song of loss and regret, but a hopeful optimism as well, and ends the project on a note the same way we feel about 2021- hopeful optimism.
If you were to say to me even a year ago that I’d be listening to an album from Dua Lipa and liking it- I would’ve laughed in your face. But such is the unpredictability of life and the mysterious ways of God, that I can now say that I’m glad I took the plunge and listened to Future Nostalgia and the special edition tracks. With the album not Christian in nature, one might think that it was never going to be up my alley; however these songs are still thought-provoking and inspiring, as we are met with an album that overall speaks about the intricacies of love, life and everything else- the complexities of love the emotion and love the active decision. As a single person, I didn’t expect to resonate with much of the tracks, yet I have felt recently that this album shows us a fraction of the love God has for each of us. This album shows us the epitome of human love and what it means to love a person wholeheartedly, as broken and as messy as we are as humans; and I reckon if there’s one takeaway form this album is that love is messy- and the sooner we can fully grasp this notion, the sooner we can live life to the fullest, and the sooner we can surrender to God knowing that though He may not take our confusing love issues away, He will make us stronger people and better humans as a result. And now as I go off and reflect and ruminate on Future Nostalgia (The Moonlight Edition) for yet another time- and jot some notes down for my upcoming Dua Lipa blog, let me say that if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon as of yet- you need to. That’s all. Nothing more to it. Well done Dua, I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you in the future!
I’m kind of learning along the way, figuring it out [live streaming]. I only, just this week, did my second-ever live stream on Instagram. It’s different but it’s a fun way to really connect with the fans and the audience and I think it’s interesting to see how we are when we’re out of our comfort zone. You kind of are just stripped back: You are on your sofa, you are in your living room. You’re completely bare-faced and I think it connects with people on a different level, because it shows we’re all the same and we’re all human. There’s a lot of beauty that comes with all of that. Sometimes trying to make things like that interesting can be difficult, but I think it’s something that we all need to learn in the new age of social media. I think even after this pandemic hopefully blows over soon, we’ll still be using everything we learned during this time to really connect with people on a different level.
4 songs to listen to: Cool, Love Again, Break My Heart, We’re Good
RIYL: Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, Echosmith, Halsey, Tori Kelly, Demi Lovato, JoJo