The Next British Invasion: A Review of “Dua Lipa” by Dua Lipa

With the tropical beats of modern pop dominating the charts, the entire genre is feeling a little stale. In comes Dua Lipa, a smoky-voiced starlet from the UK. After dropping a handful of singles since late 2015, Lipa has finally released her self-titled debut. She mixes a more traditional pop sound with the blues and heavy drum beats. She rasps her way through themes of love, desire, and heartbreak, all against a backdrop of Biblical imagery. While this may seem an odd choice, it goes a long way to help aggrandize the ups and downs of her relationship with an unnamed ex. All this comes together to create a strong debut, the music as beautiful as Dua herself. And now, here’s my track-by-track review of the deluxe edition of the album:

  1. Genesis- This opening track is one of the most generous with the Bible images, drawing a parallel between the beginning of a relationship and the beginning of humanity a la Adam and Eve from the Book of, obviously, Genesis. Dua knows she has made terrible mistakes, but pleads with her significant other to start over with her. It’s the perfect opening for the album. It’s a light jam, perfect for a chill out. It’s also one of my favorites.
  2. Lost in Your Light (feat. Miguel)- This track crosses pop and R’n’B masterfully. It’s also a very romantic love song. Dua’s rough voice is beautifully complemented by Miguel’s smoother vocals. It’s been a long time since there’s been an honest-to-god romantic and yet sensual love song, and these two fill that void perfectly.
  3. Hotter Than Hell- This song is Dua’s sex anthem. Following the brilliant new trend of girls taking a more dominant role in intercourse, Dua is running the show here. She rasps and belts, promising a night of heaven and heat. This continues the running Bible motif, reappropriating it for something more natural than supernatural.
  4. Be the One- Much like “Genesis,” Dua is pleading with her lover to stay despite the mistakes she’s made. However, rather than hoping to start anew, she brings up the possibility that she’s his soulmate. This song grooves in the vein of bands like HAIM, in the best way.
  5. IDGAF- If you have a song on your album that is a sassy rebuff to an ex, there’s a very good chance I’ll love it. And that’s just what this song is. An ex is crawling back to Dua after doing her wrong, but she is having none of it. The refrain and chorus have a chant-like quality to them, making this song a perfect arena anthem. This is the kind of song that will get you pumped up and ready to tell off an ex you don’t even have. This track is, of course, another one of my favorites.
  6. Blow Your Mind (Mwah)- This was the first song I ever bought of Dua’s, the combination of sass and ambivalence drawing me in. It’s a song about self-confidence, disguised as a relationship tune. Dua is clearly feeling herself on this track, certain that she is the shit and if her date chooses to let her go, it’s him who’s missing out. Oh, to have even half her level of self-esteem.
  7. Garden- This track is another that more fully embraces the religious motif. Dua can feel her relationship coming to an end, but equates their love to the Garden of Eden. On this bluesy tune, Dua reminisces on the old times. You can truly feel her pain as she wonders if it’s all really coming to an end.
  8. No Goodbyes- This song is a power ballad, where Dua wants to hold on to the last of her and her lover’s relationship. They know it is going to end, but want one more night together. This song is slightly more hopeful than “Garden,” planting seeds that possibly in the future they will be able to be friends. She also uses some vocal alterations to make the song more unique.
  9. Thinking ‘Bout You- This is one of Dua’s bluesy-est songs, primarily focusing on her pained vocals and a guitar. She laments and struggles after a break up, unable to get her ex off her mind and unable to move on. This song recalls the same desperation of Tove Lo’s “Habits,” but somehow lonelier. She still craves and hopes for the high of her ex’s love, drinks and smokes unable to ease the pain. This is another easy favorite.
  10. New Rules- This is another track about getting over an ex, but this uses the unique idea of outlining how she will do it. Knowing what sends her back into his arms, she’s set up guidelines for herself. The chorus has a melody almost reminiscent of a snake charmer’s song, almost as though she wants to hypnotize herself into follow these rules. It’s a really clever idea and a total bop.
  11. Begging- This track is about an all-encompassing relationship. Interestingly, parts of this song can be interpreted two ways. Each “Say I’m gonna…” refrain, is just vague enough that she could be saying she wants her lover to say these thing to her or that she is saying it to them. Either one falls in line with her entire being wanting to beg for the other person and their love. Despite the evident vulnerability, it’s hard to believe the significant other doesn’t reciprocate. There’s something so strong about the emotions in and around Dua, the feeling definitely seems mutual. It’s another favorite.
  12. Homesick- This is both the final track on the standard album and the final ballad on the album as a whole. It’s a sweet love song, but also about missing someone. The song was co-written and features backing vocals by Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Dua brings back the Biblical imagery, comparing her recent success to “walking on water.” And still, she wishes her lover was there to share it with. It’s deeply touching and yet has just enough lack of detail that you assume the person the song is for gets an unspoken message out of it that the rest of us don’t. It’s a very beautiful song and another favorite.

Deluxe Tracks:

  1. Dreams- This song is a remarkably sexy jam for a song about a crush. Dua dreams of getting with her crush in dreams, both physically and emotionally. It’s a heavily drummed-based throwback pop track, reminiscent of Little Mix. Despite a certain level of cheesiness, it comes across as genuine. It’s a great party track. It’s another favorite of mine.
  2. Room For 2- This is a very chill track, closer to alternative pop than anything. It’s another kiss-off to someone who’s done her wrong, except this time Dua is letting karma take care of them. The chorus is strangely reminiscent of a nursery rhyme, giving the song just the right amount of weird. The verses are very expressive, while the chorus is nearly monotone. This creates an unsettling atmosphere. The lyrics are also vague enough that this song could be about an ex, a rival, or anyone else who screwed you over. It’s another personal favorite.
  3. New Love- This song describes someone who’s had bad luck in love and yet keeps trying again. Dua says she wrote the song about the industry, feeling unwanted and yet unable to give it up. It’s got an R’n’B vibe, the smooth swing creating a classy atmosphere. Dua croons on the chorus, showing a different side to her voice.
  4. Bad Together- This is a fun track about two people who know they’re bad for each other, but dive into a relationship anyway. Even though the song is about ignoring what people say, it gives off a very Bonnie and Clyde vibe. For an upbeat pop song, it’s remarkably dark.
  5. Last Dance- This is a groovy love song about finding home with each other and loving deeply, even if it won’t last. It’s about living each moment with each other like it’s their last. The vocals and music build to a crescendo, painting an epic tale of falling hard fast. It makes you want to dance and fall in love. It’s another favorite.

Dua Lipa as an artist was a grower for me. It took me a while to realize what a breath of fresh air she was in the suffocating trend of only tropical beats and colorless vocals. But once I realized her genius, I was hooked. This album was a solid debut and cemented Dua Lipa as a veritable pop princess. I can’t wait to watch her continue to revive pop music and take the industry by storm.

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