Dua Lipa next to a shark.

The Music Moment: Radical Optimism by Dua Lipa

3 mins read

Grade: B+

On Friday, May 3rd, Dua Lipa released her third studio album Radical Optimism, featuring ‘90s-Britpop-inspired songs about positivity and hope in relationships. Following her success with single “Dance The Night” from Barbie the Album, many anticipated this album to continue with the same dance-pop vibe. Her last album, Future Nostalgia, which won Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammys, gave Lipa big pressure to follow up on the groundbreaking techno-dance niche she carved for herself. Ultimately, if you love a good dance break, Radical Optimism is definitely worth listening to. 

Radical Optimism kicks off with “End of an Era,” an upbeat, cutesy track about how a good kiss can sweep you up and cause you to imagine an end-game relationship. Though the catchy beat bears similarities to many of Lipa’s previous songs, this song’s message sets it apart; while she used to focus on self-love and moving on from romance, this song gives hope for a new relationship, possibly highlighting Lipa’s personal development. 

“Houdini,” released in November, is a clear stand-out with engaging lyrics. The songstress proves herself elusive, inviting her suitors to impress her but ultimately maintaining power in the situation and ‘ghosting’ them a la Harry Houdini, the famous escape artist referenced in the song’s title. “Houdini”’s 80s-esque synthesizer is punctuated by a solid beat, rendering it an infectious pop hit. However, though the song’s message is creative and unique, it does not fit in on an optimism-focused album and might have been better saved for another album.

Lipa performed the third track “Training Season” at the Grammys in February and it quickly elicited comparisons to ABBA disco hits with its nostalgic background piano and guitar sounds. The lyrics, which begin, “Are you someone that I can give my heart to or just the poison that I’m drawn to?” develop into an empowering song enumerating what she wants from the people she dates. This track—the best on the album—is worthy of its current pop-hit status and is sure to get stuck in your head if it’s not already.

“Whatcha Doing” is catchy and clever, showcasing Lipa’s strong songwriting abilities. The pre-chorus says, “If control is my religion / Then I’m heading for collision,” referring to the excitement of a crush. This track does not stand out because of other hits within the album like “Training Season,” but its impressive songwriting is still worth noting.

Despite some of the tracks blending together, “Illusion,” stands out and may very well be a future chart-topper. Lyrically, the song describes trying to see someone for who they really are—despite their best efforts to be suspicious—but not necessarily being bitter about it. She sings, “Now I’m grown I know what I deserve / I still like dancing with the lesson I already learned.” As the best pop music does, the song has a strong hook and builds up towards the powerful chorus. Released in April, just less than a month before the rest of the album was released, “Illusion” has already gained massive popularity and it’s easy to see why.

Not to be repetitive, but when the eighth track begins, it’s hard to stay off the dance floor. A classic pop song that doesn’t take itself too seriously lyrically, “Falling Forever,” ditches angst and celebrates the live-in-the-moment spirit that causes you to dance with your friends, hands up, singing out the chorus of your favorite tune. 

If you are a big Swiftie, you will love “Anything For Love.” Its calmer tone contrasts the rest of the album—and the majority of Lipa’s songs—as she discusses the difficulties of finding true love: “But I’m not interested in a love that gives up so easily / I want a love that’s set on keeping me.” 

“Happy For You” closes out the album and signals real maturity and optimism—radical optimism, in fact—as Lipa looks back at a past relationship with a sense of peace and closure. The melody has more air and allows listeners to hear the beautiful texture of Lipa’s voice without synths overpowering her vocals. 

Lipa’s Radical Optimism has some must-listen tracks that will immediately get you dancing, resembling Lipa’s typical style while also delving into new fresh sounds. While Future Nostalgia might still take the crown, Radical Optimism is a very close runner-up.

Rose is a sophomore at M-A and this is her first year in journalism. She enjoys writing about pop culture and issues affecting the M-A community. In her free time, Rose enjoys exercising, going to concerts, and spending time with friends and family.

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