Disco-Pop in the Time of Coronavirus: Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa
Required quarantine listening
Before half of humanity went into mandatory lockdown, Dua Lipa made a retro workout video of her hit single Physical, a companion to the music video. In a tight yellow spandex suit, she channels Olivia Newton-John—responsible for the classic hit of the same title—and Jane Fonda as an instructor, giving everyone aerobic workout flashbacks from decades past. In the comment section, one stranger writes, “It’s like she knew we would all be quarantined.”
Not long after that, she released her sophomore studio album Future Nostalgia, which also happens to be the highest rated album of 2020. Wooing us with her deep vocals and catchy dance tunes, the pop star’s in a constant state of reinvention. She recalls the precise moment when this direction presented itself. She reveals, “I was doing a radio show in Las Vegas and I went for a walk, just to clear my mind. While I was walking, I was listening to OutKast and No Doubt and I was like, ‘What is it about these records that I still love and relate to so much? Why do I feel like they haven’t aged? And how could I incorporate that nostalgic feeling, of all my favorite childhood memories and inspirations, into something new and modern?’”
Nostalgia sure is a collective emotion that the inhabitants of the world are feeling, especially when we’re faced with a present—and future—that doesn’t feel like anything we’ve experienced before. We’re all doing our best to adapt to such uncertain times and, for some, it may just be through something as common as dancing.
As a big fan of her self-titled debut album—the most streamed album by a female solo artist in Spotify history—with such a powerful line-up (meme-worthy) and hits like IDGAF and New Rules, it seemed impossible to have something that would measure up to her first record; I was wrong. Her disco-pop revival album offers an escape from current circumstances. Alex Abad-Santos of Vox puts it perfectly, “Dancing in the middle of despair—that’s an act of defiance.”
With personal favorites like Levitating, Pretty Please and Love Again, Future Nostalgia is reminiscent of Carly Rae Jepsen’s iconic album Emotion. These blood-pumping singles, with an exception of the slow-paced Boys Will Be Boys, are perfect companions during this time of self-isolation.
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The 24-year-old pop star is unafraid to speak her mind in Boys Will Be Boys addressing toxic masculinity. It’s reminiscent of pal Taylor Swift’s The Man. You know she’s trying to make a point with lyrics like, “It’s second nature to walk home before the sun goes down/ And put your keys between your knuckles when there’s boys around/ Isn’t it funny how we laugh it off to hide our fear/ When there’s nothing funny here?”
The commanding pop album giving us a flawless ’80s dance tunes revival. Future Nostalgia is a gift to humankind while holed up in our homes. Perhaps we all need some disco energy from a true visionary.
Stream Future Nostalgia on Spotify.
Art Alexandra Lara