"Future Nostalgia" / Warner Records

March 29, 2020

Dua Lipa’s ‘Future Nostalgia’: Hit or Miss?

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Daniel Moran ’21: This album definitely had a lot of hype, but to me, she more than delivered. I didn’t have any expectations for the sound of the album but was still surprised by “Future Nostalgia,” mainly as it compares to the record’s singles. Regardless, the plethora of tasty basslines combined with Dua’s effortless vocal delivery makes this a supremely fun album.

Jeremy Markus ’22: Okay, so I’m not entirely sure what Dua Lipa was going for here. It seems to be some kind of a concept album about someone getting over past breakups and falling in love again. Or maybe not? Maybe she is simply incapable of writing anything beyond a mid-20s-angsty love song and decided to pack ten of them into a half-hour album. There’s no real emotional drama throughout the project; it’s all fun beats and catchy choruses. I want depth! I want range! It feels almost like Future Nostalgia is a carefully curated selection of ready-for-radio summer romance hits designed to get maximum exposure, with a socially-aware anthem (“Boys Will Be Boys”) clumsily tacked on at the end.

DM: I personally have no need for depth or range — that’s just something music journalists put forth to discount pop music. She’s really good at making good music! This album does something else that’s pretty impressive — she makes a declaration by titling the album Future Nostalgia, then creates a sound and image that can seamlessly exist in the ‘80s and right now. I can’t think of any other artist who has that ability. Even the album cover and accompanying music videos look straight out of the ‘80s, but with a modern touch that keeps everything fresh. It’s the best pop singer revisiting pop’s golden age and making something even better.

JM: I’m getting strong Daft Punk vibes with the first track, “Future Nostalgia,” and then even stronger Taylor Swift vibes with “Cool.” Like, I’m not 100% sure “Cool” isn’t just a Taylor Swift song sung in a slight British accent.

DM: You forget that a slight British accent makes pop music infinitely more interesting. Like, Billie Eilish is cool, but way cooler if you pretend she’s from the U.K.

JM: It’s literally Taylor’s “Cruel Summer,” but worse.

DM: Damn that’s a funny way to say that this is the greatest pop album ever made.

I will say though, this whole album seems horny to a whole new degree, even past what is normal in pop music. Maybe I’m only noticing that because we’re approaching two weeks in quarantine but it certainly stands out. She’s up front about it though which I love, and doesn’t hide it behind the thinnest of metaphors *cough* Harry Styles *cough* “Watermelon Sugar.” It makes it feel like she’s coming into her own and is getting a new sort of comfortable with her tracks, which is exactly what you would hope for in an artist’s sophomore effort.

JM: No, you’re definitely on to something. Not even Camila Cabello is this outright sexual on every single track of her albums.

DM: My personal favorite track has to be either “Future Nostalgia” or “Levitating.” There is literally zero reason for Dua to rap on a track and even less reasons for it to work, yet somehow it does? And her flow, it’s almost like she’s … levitating. She has this confidence that’s unmatched, and even in the most vulnerable moments of the album (“Love Again” and “Break My Heart”), she’s decisively self-assured.

JM: “Physical” sounds like it might weasel its way into the next season of Stranger Things. It directly interpolates Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 “Physical,” which seems kinda like cheating. Dua Lipa relies heavily on ‘80s nostalgia — hence the title — to drive this album, and if you aren’t a huge fan of the synth-heavy, workout-playlist style, Future Nostalgia does not hit.

DM: “Physical” is amazing, and the accompanying music video sets the aesthetic of the album. I don’t go out very often, but if I did, this is the song I would want to hear while I act like the tequila shot I just took was actually pleasant.

JM: I just don’t understand how an album where almost all of the songs sound exactly the same and deal with the exact same source material can be viewed in a positive light. I’m sorry, but I can’t keep the songs straight during relistens and I keep wanting to detoxify with a Taylor Swift playlist. I think this is the type of album where, if you like Dua Lipa and you like what she’s done with her ’80s pop revival, then you will adore the project. She knows what she can do, and, admittedly, she does it proficiently. I, however, don’t really enjoy dance hits and ultra-horny lyricism, so I simply can’t commend Future Nostalgia.

DM: Dua Lipa flawlessly incorporates the sounds of London’s house scene in the ‘90s. In truth, she’s long been the most likely candidate to recapture this sound and convert it to the mainstream, especially after her hits such as “Electricity” and “One Kiss.” To me, that’s the most enjoyable part of the album. She captures a unique, hometown sound, blends it with ‘80s pop and adds her own flavor to it to create the most pleasant sounding album of this year so far.

 

Daniel Moran is a junior in the College of Human Ecology. He currently serves as the assistant arts editor on The Sun’s board. He can be reached at dmoran@cornellsun.com. Jeremy Markus is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He currently serves as a senior editor on The Sun’s board. He can be reached at jmarkus@cornellsun.com