Editors’ Notes “People always talk about how scary the second record is,” Dua Lipa tells Apple Music. “But for me, it’s more scary to go back into the studio and try to create something like ‘New Rules’ over and over again. I felt like I'd end up in a vicious cycle of trying to get somewhere but never being able to mature as an artist.” And so, to move forward and trump 2017’s all-conquering self-titled debut album, she looked back. “I’ve time-traveled quite a lot on this record,” she says of the aptly named Future Nostalgia, which takes in everything from life-affirming disco (“Don’t Start Now,” “Break My Heart”) to ’80s power pop (“Physical”) and even Debbie Harry-indebted raps (“Levitating”). And yet, it never sounds anything other than forward-looking. “It’s a fine line, so I wanted to bring something that was reminiscent of my childhood and at the same time make it really current,” she says. “I remember listening to songs by Moloko and Jamiroquai, which would make you want to dance no matter what time of day it was. I wanted to recreate that feeling.” On Future Nostalgia, the singer also gets personal, delving into heartbreak—and then new love. Despite the innovative new sound—and changes in her personal life, from relationships to overnight megafame (“My friends still treat me the same, I haven’t changed that much as a person”)—her mission to take women with her every time she rises remains intact. “For me, it’s always about championing women and putting ourselves in the position of power,” she says. “I want to show that women are allowed to take risks and try things differently musically. And wear the pants, you know? We don’t have that enough in music.” Here, let Lipa guide you through the thrilling Future Nostalgia, track by track.
Future Nostalgia “I went in the studio to write with [US producer] Jeff Bhasker, and I just felt ready to do something really bold. I told him that the album’s name would be Future Nostalgia, and he just got on his instruments and started playing all these crazy different sounds. It was just about having fun and not taking yourself too seriously. And also, for me, a feeling of empowerment and sassiness. When I put down the lyrics ‘I know you ain’t used to a female alpha,’ I didn’t mean that I was the first. The lyric is about the shoulders of the giants I’ve leant on, and the fact that I’ve been inspired by female alphas who have shown me that we can do it. This felt like the perfect album opener because of the fearlessness.”
Don’t Start Now “Every song on this album had to fit the theme of nostalgia, and this has a fun disco element. Sonically, it’s quite dissimilar to what I’ve put out before, but lyrically it still holds my blueprint. It’s a perfect breakup song, about when you finally find your feet and then somebody decides to come crawling back just when you’ve moved on. It’s an empowering statement about being stronger than you think. I always want to make music in the hope that people can relate to it. When it’s honest and about real subjects and things that have happened, I feel safer.”
Cool “My A&R played me this song two years ago, and I instantly hated it. I was like, ‘Please never play me this again.’ But a year down the line, when I was writing, he sat me down and was like, ‘I have something to play you.’ And he just played the instrumental and I was like, ‘This is actually really good with no lyrics.’ I went into the studio with Tove Lo and just had fun exploring. It has some Prince influences, and it was a range of my voice I hadn’t tried. This whole album was about exploring growth and trying out new things, so I wanted to embrace challenges. We wrote something that felt really real to me, and it’s just a romantic, summery song, about meeting someone who has you losing all your cool.”
Physical “When this comes on, I want people to be like, ‘OK, we’re doing shots.’ This is when the party gets really wild. But I was nervous about this song; I thought it might be a bit Marmite because it’s so relentless and out there and in your face, and then the middle eight just amps it up even more. I didn’t expect people to go as crazy for it as they have, so I’m really grateful for the response. Lyrically, I used words like ‘diamond rich’ which felt quite nostalgic to me, but then added more playfulness to ensure it felt current. It was such a spur-of-the-moment kind of song, which at times had a Eurythmics vibe to it.”
Levitating “This is the first song I wrote where I really felt I had everyone on board with the concept of the album. When I was writing it, I felt like I was in Austin Powers and was like, ‘If I do a video for this, Mike Myers has to be in it.’ It had to be fun and bubbly but with lyrics that felt really smart. This is about me exploring happy songs and doing something that’s not ‘dance crying.’ It’s about having fun and meeting someone and falling in love and thinking, ‘You’ve probably met me at the perfect time, let’s just go for it.’ It’s the feeling when love makes you feel like you’re levitating. It’s otherworldly. Things get quite Daft Punk-y here, but it’s playful, and the middle eight is almost like my British version of Blondie’s rapping. I felt like I needed to get my British side across as well on this record, because sometimes people don't actually know where I’m from.”
Pretty Please "This is the first moment you really get to take a breather on the record, especially after ‘Levitating,’ which is so full on. It sounds cool and chill, but it’s about the opposite. I like playing with sounds and concepts in that way. The song is about promising someone—or yourself—that you’re going to be really chill in the early stages of the relationship, but then realizing that ‘Yeah, that’s just not me.’ The lyrics that opens it is ‘Somewhere in the middle/I think I lied a little.’ It kind of sums it up."
Hallucinate “This is quite different from the other songs on the album, which all tie in together. But I just wanted this to be like a fun ’90s dance track. It felt so freeing. This one’s my festival song. Whenever I make songs, I imagine what they’d be like if I performed them at Glastonbury. I knew there was no way I could do a festival without this song.”
Love Again “A relationship hadn’t worked out for me, and I wrote this when I felt like there was no light. It was a song for me, to give myself a little cuddle, and was about being hopeful that I would fall in love again. We already had these beautiful strings, then [Miami producer and songwriter] Clarence Coffee Jr. had the genius idea of adding in a sample of ‘Your Woman’ by White Town. That really gave the song the push it needed, because we definitely needed a more dancy element. I wrote it at a difficult time, but sometimes songs help you get out of certain situations. It’s like cheap therapy, and I think this is my favorite song on the record.”
Break My Heart “This samples INXS’s ‘Need You Tonight,’ and it’s a perfect explanation of ‘dance crying.’ It’s about finally being in a happy place and knowing this new person is amazing. But then thinking: ‘Nothing else compares to this, and what if this ends and it breaks my heart?’ It’s the whole thing of being scared to be too happy, like when your day is going really well and you think, ‘What’s the one thing that’s going to f*k it up?’ I’m a hopeless romantic and always ask myself: ‘How am I going to protect this?’ But it’s also a sweet and vulnerable place to be, because you also see how much you care. It helped that the people I wrote this with know my boyfriend, which helped me be really open.”
Good in Bed “I wondered about changing the title of this, because it’s quite in your face. I guess this song does what it says on the tin: It’s about when good sex is the only thing that was holding two people together. It was very fun to get to make a song like this and to be so carefree and open. Those relationships never last; it’s a cautionary tale.”
Boys Will Be Boys “I talk so much about female empowerment, but I’d never done a song which really talks about the growing pains of what it’s like to be a woman. I was in the studio with the team I wrote ‘Physical’ with, and was just talking about what it was like to get off the bus from school and walk home, knowing that there'd be boys on bikes around the estates, and that I'd be so f**king s**t scared in case they would catcall or chase me home or whatever. For girls at school, there was always that fear of trying to get home before it got too dark. I can't believe that I had to actually put keys through my knuckles, like Wolverine, in case anybody might say something or try to chase or attack me. It’s crazy that we have to think about these things and not feel safe for a three-minute walk down the road from the bus stop to your flat, and I feel we maybe don't educate the boys enough to understand what it's like to be a girl. I just want this song to be a conversation starter. I want it also to just be a little bit of an eye-opener. It’s not a song that's out to offend anyone, or point any fingers. But I wanted the lyrics to be quite cutting for the sake of the conversation, and in the hope that there can be change. It’s also to show solidarity with other girls and be like, ‘I've been through it as well.’ And at the same time, for any young fans or listeners, to be something that maybe they'll ask the older sister or brother about, and to try and understand why I decided to put this in a song. This song is a completely different element, but lyrically it was very important for me to have it on the record.”
Don't Start Now
Break My Heart
Good in Bed
Boys Will Be Boys
11 Songs, 37 Minutes
March 27, 2020
℗ 2020 Dua Lipa Limited under exclusive license to Warner Records UK, a division of Warner Music UK Limited, with the exception of track 1 & 2 2019 Dua Lipa Limited under exclusive license to Warner Records UK, a division of Warner Music UK Limited
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