Has Dua Lipa Improvised the Aesthetic of Her New Album, ‘Radical Optimism’?

A few days ago, Dua Lipa announced her third album, ‘Radical Optimism’, for May 3. That is to say, it is to be expected that it will be preceded by a third single before launch, after ‘Houdini‘ and ‘Training Season‘, which is having a harder time finding its place than its predecessors.

The album art features Dua Lipa in the middle of the ocean, near a shark. The rest of the images from the album’s booklet, also released, show the singer swimming on the beach, as if it were any of the free weeks that she may have had in the last four years. There have been many, especially during the pandemic, when I looked like Willy Fog while the rest of us were making cookies and tortellini at home.

But of course, there is something strange in all this. Was this really Dua Lipa’s idea for ‘Radical Optimism’? Was that even the album title he had in mind when he started promoting it? We highly doubt it. But let’s remember to understand why.

For Dua Lipa‘Dance The Night’ was a poisoned gift: the ‘Barbie’ song worked so well that the disco-pop of ‘Future Nostalgia‘ probably spread longer than she would have liked. Possibly they thought that the song would be one more within the OST, which must have been led by another of her hits, ‘What Was I Made For?’ by Billie Eilish, but the boom was such that there were several hits from the film, including hers.

So by the time he began to announce his new era, the previous one was too present. Despite them, Dua Lipa‘s singles are beginning to appear in a kaleidoscope effect on streaming platforms. He changes the cover of all of them and gives them a psychedelic air. ‘Houdini‘ arrives.

Dua Lipa presents the song to us in a dark atmosphere, like a training session, a dance class, ‘Fame‘ but taken to a cool, more artsy point. It offers a feeling of claustrophobia, of confinement, of many people around. A scheme that is repeated later in ‘Training Season‘: the cover with the bar, her in vintage dance training clothes… and a video that, although we do not get to see it in full due to the conflict in Palestine and Ukraine, repeats the idea of Claustrophobia and crowds.

Even Dua Lipa‘s performances follow that pattern: we saw her at the Grammys with a giant cube in which she did acrobatics surrounded by dancers, and that same idea of ​​black leather and acrobatics was repeated at the Brits. Also in the live acoustic performances of the ‘London Sessions‘ she opts for black, strong contrast and confinement.

And yet, in ‘Radical Optimism’ we are planted on the beach, in the middle of the sea, in blue tones, in the summer spirit. And it’s confusing because the ‘Training Season‘ promo continues and with it, for now, fidelity to the original idea.

Our theory is that, indeed, in recent weeks there has been a change of heart with the aesthetics of the album. Both Dua and her team saw that the proposal of the first two singles had not gone badly, but it was not having much impact on the collective imagination and they gambled on something safer: that an album that is published in May evokes summer. Make sure you want to consume it over the next few months because what better album during a vacation than one that sells it to you on the cover and booklet.

An obvious choice – although well executed in image, even if it has been somewhat improvised – but a smart one: no one planning a release on the A-List has bet their cards on the beach spirit. Of course, the last one to do it (if we ignore the re-recording of Swift’s ‘1989‘ ) was Lorde in ‘Solar Power‘ and the summer she offered us was one of fentanyl on an ugly beach in LA. Let’s hope that Dua ‘s is more than the ones that make you want to jump into the water with the float.

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