F.or Dua Lipa, 2020 started with a bunch of tears and ended in the same way. When her second album went out in April, the singer went through it through an Instagram video explaining that she took the Future Nostalgia release a week later. She didn’t know if the early days of pandemic locking were the right time for such a heavily capitalized record for the dance floor. But she didn’t need to worry: in a year full of anxiety and fear, a vision of nostalgia for the future was just the thing.
The album is full of coiled energy, each of the 11 songs delivering a euphoric high over an inevitable beat. In the track that gives the album its name is the bronze line: “You want what it looks like now, let me give you a taste. ”It’s true, but it’s not too – the album is heavily indebted to the past, a nostalgia for the glitz de disco costume and powerpop Day-Glo of the 80s and their predecessors. Among others, he mentions Olivia Newton-John, Madonna’s millennium rendition, 1930 bandleader Lew Stone (and by extension, 1990s White Town), 1980s INXS, Lily Allen and the Who. Delightfully cajoling those different sounds into a 43 minute lithe of pristine club-pop music that makes amazing sound now there is nothing short of alchemy.
This hasn’t been a year for subtlety, and there’s no real subtext for Future Nostalgia songs. They are short of what they want, whether that be for an ex-boyfriend eating a humble pie or a future man to jump her bones. Skating levitating and Hallucinate over slinky bass lines and syncopated disco beats, Physical and Break My Heart attacks super parties even as we listen in our covered-room lounges. sitting or pushing through 40 minutes on a cross trainer. The songs have taken on a very different role than they intended. When she was making the record, Lipa must have had scenes of sweaty clubs and dance showers, spilled drinks and arms swirling willingly around each other. The name alone suggests that we should look back on those songs with happy memories attached. But will we ever be mad for 2020?
I suspect Lipa will: 2020 is the year she became a pop musician. She went over the “good-looking, servant” box in which she was marketed and became one of the most interesting major pop players: she starred out Gaga’d Gaga and out Kylie’d Kylie . At the end of November, more than 5 million people flocked into its Studio 2054 live stream to view its cavort around Printworks London with a group of pop dancers and guests, heavy with a production setting, moments meme-enabled and enhanced with the support of big brand Lipa-helmed. . It was fun but not as illegal as a high-budget school disco, reminiscent of Josie’s satire and the Pussycats and images of the Spice Girls traveling through Times Square in Spiceworld, their big faces itself pressing down from each billboard. There was no suggestion here: Lipa makes grass while the sun shines. And why not, for a pop star who has risen to megastar status breaks through when fields are closed and clubs are left dark?
The tears that sparked the news came last week when Lipa was nominated for six Grammys, including this year’s record. Future Nostalgia is not trying to make bold statements about the state of the world or to engage in anything beyond a good time. If he makes any statement, Lipa seems to be a bloody pop star. She may have only made it to the second position on our list, but make no mistake: 2020 was the year of Dua Lipa.