Album Review: Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia (2020)

The most hotly anticipated album of 2020 is here. It’s not often an album is preceded by a 97 rating on Metacritic… and in a way, it kinda deserves it.

The sophomore album is often considered the hardest for an artist to master; how can number two replicate the quality and success of number two? Especially when that album is ‘Dua Lipa’… hit after hit came from her first era, and it was always going to be a tough task.

Our first taste of the album came at the start of November 2019, when ‘Don’t Start Now’ was released as the lead single from ‘Future Nostalgia’. Since then, it has been streamed almost 600 million times, and has solidified her as being more than just a fad. Combining 80s synths with modern verses and feminist voice, ‘DSN’ became an immediate hit. In the USA, it reached a peak of #2 on the Billboard 100 just last week. Will the full album release push it to #1? Streaming figures must mean more to the charts than actual sales in the current time…. that is to be seen. It certainly deserves it.

Our second taste of the album came from ‘Future Nostalgia’ in December 2019, but was only a promotional single. The lyric video for this is one of the most stylish I’ve ever seen; Dua Lipa completely rocks it as a lost sister of the Carringtons in Dynasty, as she swishes around a mansion and plays golf on the roof, all whilst looking like a magazine of Vogue. Naturally the 80s vibes continued; although underrated compared to ‘DSN’, I would argue that this is stronger purely for the fact that it is so different. It pushes so far into the vibe that no other pop girl around right now has made a similar sound; and that’s a rare thing.

A professional review suggested that ‘Future Nostalgia’ was the sound that Lady Gaga had been yearning for her entire career. That reviewer either spent too long reading stan twitter, or just doesn’t like Lady Gaga much. It would have helped Gaga if she had a song like ‘Physical’ right about now; this could be DL2’s ‘New Rules’, and – dare I say it – 2020’s own ‘Just Dance’? Probably my favourite song that Dua has ever released, it makes me instantly happy the second that the opening note plays. The rainbow themed music video may have a part to play there. Not all music has to have a philosophical meaning; indeed, didn’t much of the 1980s revolve around dancing and sex? Sounds pretty good to me, but not quite as good as this song.

The final snippet from the album was ‘Break My Heart’, which is another solid single. Meant to be released today, it dropped on Wednesday as ‘Future Nostalgia”s release got pushed forwards by a week. C********** or her album being leaked online? You make your mind up. The Funk Revolution is definitely in force here; Nile Rodgers who? My favourite part of the song (and maybe the album) is in the first chorus:

‘I would’ve stayed at home
Cause I was doing better alone
But when you said, “Hello”
I knew that was the end of it all

Dua Lipa, Break My Heart (2020)

It’s not what she sings, it’s how she does it. The music drops away; a catchy bass is all that remains, rumbling to Dua’s timing. She half-whispers the words, as you just know that a killer chorus is coming. It’s inventive (in a way) and definitely wasn’t expected. The chorus pause really puts the UK’s 2020 Eurovision entry to shame. Can she write the next one, please? It also samples one of the best songs of all time – INXS’s ‘Need You Tonight’.

Of the new songs, a stand out is ‘Hallucinate’. Another pure party hit, it’s bouncy synths and beat are intoxicating; as apparently does whoever Dua is singing about. I have a feeling this song will be in my playlists for several years to come. ‘Love Again’s’ strings and guitars have a slightly more melancholic tone, and discusses the feeling of her falling in love with someone again, when she didn’t feel like she would be able to. It’s deep and it’s meaningful, and is probably the closest thing to a ballad this album has. It’s also closer to a song which you can imagine one of the 80s queens singing.

The best thing about this album is that it isn’t too long. It’s a clear story with a start and end; a thrill ride through a modern take on retro music styles. Watch out 2020 and 2021; there will be tens of albums rushing to copy this. The 80s hasn’t been so popular since, well, the 80s. Does ‘Future Nostalgia’ deserve a 97 rating? Maybe not right now; 85 or 90 would be more like it (it’s still a heavy contender for album of the year). But give it a few years. ‘Future Nostalgia’ is going to be the album which creates a thousand pop songs in the next few years. I have a feeling this album is going to go down as one of the greats, purely for the fact that it will influence so many artists. And, you know what? If she brings funk, disco and new wave back to the charts, she can have a 100 rating from me.

3 thoughts on “Album Review: Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia (2020)

  1. Hey, stumbled across your post doing a sweep of music blogs – really enjoyed your takes here!

    I think it’s so true that Future Nostalgia is going to change some MAJOR things about pop music over the next two-three years, and alongside Chromatica (we can’t wait sis), disco-pop and dance-pop are going to become the new normal. It’s come at a PERFECT time because can you imagine if this quarantining had happened last year when all we had to listen to were Billie and Lana brooding? (no shade to either project, I love them both!)


    1. Haha I understand your point! Last year’s big pop was moody and a bit glum, which there’s a big call for. But it’s not like Physical or Stupid Love where you feel like you’re in another world and you’re partying for 3 and a half minutes, and I think that’s really what the world is calling out for. Its both a return to 80s influenced music and to noughties Eurodance inspired pop, and with streaming and social media, there’s quite a big call for that now. But yeah, I think people will see how well FN is doing in charts and streaming and will follow. Plus other artists have a similar idea already (Little Mix released the lead from LM6 on Friday and that’s also 80s influenced). Can’t wait to see what happens!


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