Dua Lipa quickly became one of the top artists of the decade following the release of her hit song “New Rules” in 2017. After more than two years of development, fans were anxiously awaiting the release of her highly anticipated second album, “Future Nostalgia.”
With its funky bass, playful sound and scathingly hot lyrics, “Don’t Start Now” practically sold itself to the public. Racking up more than 1 billion listens on Spotify, “Don’t Start Now” has inadvertently become one of the many anthems of the 2020 coronavirus crisis.
Dua had been working on the album for several years when the first wave of COVID-19 hit in mid-March. With the public-health situation worsening by the minute, many artists were faced with the decision to produce and release music as planned or to hold off until the storm had passed.
Following the onset of social-distancing laws that were put in place due to COVID-19, Dua had decided that she was moving forward with the release of her album as planned. It was then, much to the artist’s dismay, that the entirety of “Future Nostalgia” was leaked just days before its planned release of April 3.
The devastating leak in March was unfortunately not the first. In January, three songs that were expected to be released with Dua’s sophomore album were leaked to the public. To those who have already had the chance to listen to “Future Nostalgia,” the tracks “Break My Heart” and “Physical” are unmistakably two of the best songs on the album.
“Break My Heart” gives an undoubtedly ‘80s vibe with a melody that evokes INXS’ 1987 track “Need You Tonight.” Dua’s funky twist on the ‘80s classic is catchy, yet dynamic enough to keep her listeners dancing. “Physical” proves there’s a common theme through the album as a darker, more complex play on Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 song of the same name.
The third song was expected to be released on the deluxe version of the album. Titled “If It Ain’t Me,” the track is a collaboration with ex-Fifth Harmony member Normani. The song is not yet listed on Dua’s Spotify page but will hopefully make good on the promise of its appearance when the deluxe version is released.
After confidently pushing through this roadblock, the singer had to go through another public violation of her creative rights. In order to take control of the situation in her own way, Dua took to Instagram Live to announce that the album would be released a week early, on March 27.
Fortunately for Dua, “Future Nostalgia” received nothing but glowing reviews from the get-go. The album can’t be viewed as anything less than stellar when its success was practically instant in the music world.
Following its release, “Future Nostalgia” was quickly classified as one of the best albums of 2020 at that point. Other artists were quick to jump on the bandwagon in an attempt to receive similar recognition.
With extra time on their hands from their cancelled tours and social-distancing guidelines, artists were finally able to take the time they needed to start, work on, or finish projects they might not have had the opportunity to otherwise. In the rush of excitement of having finished a new song or album, artists followed Dua’s lead by releasing their new materials earlier than they initially planned.
DaBaby is a perfect example of one such artist. The rapper announced his April album, “BLAME IT ON BABY,” only a week before its release, which surely fanned the musical flame for other artists to step up their game. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the same luck as Dua when it came to the critics, some of whom described his album as stale and repetitive.
Kali Uchis also released her new EP, “TO FEEL ALIVE EP,” in April. The reviews of the artist’s latest album parallel those of “Future Nostalgia.” The fact that its sole purpose is to fight away the quarantine blues is an added plus to the release.
Apart from these two artists, the likes of Playboi Carti, Drake, Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert and Juice WRLD all released singles in the wake of the pandemic and the release of “Future Nostalgia.” While some, like the late Juice WRLD, reaped the fortune of critical acclaim, most seem to have lost their luster when put up against the hit album.
Even so, Drake’s “Toosie Slide” continues to top the charts regardless of the slightly below-average reviews of the track.
Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” served as a catalyst for those in the mainstream music community to begin releasing music at their own pace despite the effects that COVID-19 has had on the music industry.
These artists feel it is their duty to continue making music even during times of hardship in order to cheer up their fans. While some artists may have had more success than others, it’s certain that they will be recognized for their courageous leap back into the industry.