Dua Lipa has gone disco. Her first single off her highly anticipated forthcoming album Don’t Start Now is a dancefloor-ready jam full of organic instrumentation and chopped-and-screwed vocals that take us back to an era that continues to poke its head into modern pop. Everybody from Madonna to Kylie have rolled out disco albums in the past and now it’s time for Lipa to put her stamp on it.
Don’t Start Now, her official re-introduction, is a breakup anthem that is going to light up dancefloors. There’s a huge, sparkly bridge and a chorus that feels fresh and nostalgic at the same time. It takes the liberating message of New Rules and doubles down. “Look at where I am... I’m all good already,” she sings as if she’s flipping her hair under disco lights. Disco may be no new sound but this sounds completely new to anything that’s going on in pop music in 2019 and that’s thrilling.
Lipa has described her forthcoming second album as “disco heavy” to The Face. “I feel like you could dance through the whole record,” she continued, adding that there are, “lots of nostalgic elements to it.” It’s difficult to go disco without conjuring some form on nostalgia. The iconic ‘70s genre popularised by names like Donna Summer and the Bee Gees is a pop trend that has never really died.
One of its greatest contributors Nile Rodgers, who fronted Chic and also worked on disco records for David Bowie, Daft Punk and Diana Ross, has had a hand in Lipa’s forthcoming album. According to Lipa he helped introduce, “a lot more live instrumentation,” to the record. That’s evident in the first single.
Lipa has never specifically attached herself to one genre. She’s effortlessly moved from dancehall to experimental pop to deep house, making it her own with her unmistakable voice. This time around, however, it sounds as if she’s striving for cohesion. Before Don’t Start Now, Lipa’s most disco-flavoured song was her feature for Silk City Electricity which scored her one of two Grammys this year. The song heavily incorporated organic instrumentation while also soaring with that ‘90s-tinged melody.
Diplo and Mark Ronson are behind Silk City and you could presume that Ronson was the one bringing the disco vibes. His 2019 record Late Night Feelings borrowed from the ‘70s, mixing country with disco on Nothing Breaks Like A Heart with Miley Cyrus and bringing the disco ball out for the title track with Lykke Li. Ronson hinted last year that he had been tapped to work on the second record which seems even more viable now that we know the direction.
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Another name who is presumed to have worked on the LP is Tove Lo. In 2018, the pair were spotted in the studio together. Lo is a forward-thinking pop queen and has often taken disco into the depth of club music like on the pulsating Disco Tits or her most recent collab with Kylie really don’t like u. When Lipa revealed she was working with Lo, she also namechecked Pharrell who has also brought a modern touch to the genre in recent times. He appeared with Rodgers on Get Lucky and later delivered a new take on his solo album GIRL.
The perky disco sound doesn’t mean that it’s going to be an entirely happy album though. Lipa revealed to GQ that there’s going to be plenty of “dance crying” going on. “It is a pop album that you’re going to be able to dance to, but a lot of the songs are sad,” she said. Ronson channelled a similar thing with Late Night Feelings while sad disco has been creeping its way into pop elsewhere this year.
Carly Rae Jepsen binned an entire disco album before arrived at this year’s Dedicated but the genre still left fingerprints on it. She’s now touring the world backed by a giant disco ball as she performs like Julien and Everything He Needs. Even Tyler, The Creator brought Studio 54 vibes to his most recent record Igor. His track I THINK samples the work of Nigerian disco artist Bibi Miscel.
It’s not enough just yet to call it a disco revival but it’s bringing the goods for these artists and we reckon that Lipa might just put it into full effect. We’re ready to cry-dance and if the rest of the album is like Don’t Start Now, her live show at the ARIA Awards is going to be an event.