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The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Dua Lipa shares radical spin on Britpop genre with ‘Radical Optimism’

Channeling the freedom and confidence of 90s pop flair
Mia Huss
Dua Lipa’s third studio album “Radical Optimism” features energetic pop tracks that create a perfect playlist for the summer. Tune in to hear Dua Lipa’s classic sound, with electronic beats and relatable lyrics. (Photo courtesy of Warner Records, graphic created in Canva by Mia Huss)

Dua Lipa ignites the summer heat with her electrifying dance-pop album “Radical Optimism,” meshing unwavering confidence and innovative use of Britpop sounds to deliver an impeccable sonic experience.

“Radical Optimism” is Dua Lipa’s third studio album released after a four-year break since her 2020 disco-inspired album “Future Nostalgia.” “Radical Optimism” features 11 songs lasting about 36 minutes and features three singles “Houdini,” “Training Season” and “Illusion.”

For the past four years Dua Lipa spent some time on the big screen featured in popular films “Barbie” in 2023 and “Argylle” in February, but that didn’t restrict her from recording in the studio.

On her music break, Dua Lipa collaborated with star-studded musicians like “Cold Heart (Pnau Remix” with Elton John in 2021, “Sweetest Pie” with Megan Thee Stallion in 2022 and “Potion” with Calvin Harris and Young Thug in 2022.

The album begins with “End of an Era,” which sounds like a typical Dua Lipa song, reminding fans that she’s back and ready for fans to dance and sing along. The song is a fast-paced, disco-sounding track that’s reminiscent of past tracks, like “Don’t Start Now” and “Dance The Night.

The bridge in “End of an Era” feels like walking on the runway, cameras flashing and feeling confident, especially with the lyrics, “In the clouds, there she goes. Butterflies, let them flow. ‘Nother girl falls in love. Another girl leaves the club.”

Shifting from her signature sound to new wave Britpop, Dua Lipa uses this song to mark the “End of an Era” of her iconic disco creations.

Dua Lipa said to the Zach Sang Show, “Radical Optimism” mirrors her confidence as a singer and her career outlook with this new era.

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Dua Lipa collaborates with Kevin Parker from the psychedelic indie project Tame Impala to channel angst and vigor infused with zealous bass lines to reminisce the glam rock era.

Other producers link with Dua Lipa to add thrilling pop flair to the album. British electronic music producer Danny Harle, Los Angeles-based producer Ian Kirkpatrick and singer-songwriter Andrew Wyatt work together to create “Radical Optimism” into the masterpiece fans know and love.

While Dua Lipa doesn’t adopt psychedelic pop energy, as she promised in her interview with Rolling Stone, she does deliver danceable songs and relatable lyrics guaranteed to be fit for summer.

One of the album’s standout tracks is “These Walls,” which details Dua Lipa’s inner dialogue before breaking up with someone, and displays her newfound confidence when making difficult decisions like ending a relationship.

Subtle bass and reverberated background vocals turn the chorus into an echo chamber, creating an immersive listening experience.

Dua Lipa’s lyrics aren’t overly poetic. In fact, she gets straight to the point: “It’s not supposed to hurt this much. Oh, if these walls could talk, they’d tell us to break up.”

Her overwhelming confidence is on point in this album from her straightforward lyrics to her punchy instrumental choices like background bass and guitar riffs from iconic producers.

Producers Harle, Kirkpatrick and Wyatt have experience with pop music since the early 2000s, so they know how to reel an audience in. They choose intense beats that make listeners hit the dance floor.

With Harle’s background in UK rave culture, a big demographic of Dua Lipa’s music, the electronic elements of the song’s bass lines are amplified, pulsating to make listeners want to dance in a club, living life to the fullest.

Whatcha Doing” has an incredible bassline that’s an ode to her influence from 90s Britpop bands and electronic pop.

The intro of the song sounds like floating through space, with tiny shooting star-like sounds, until the iconic bassline hits with every beat packing a punch of an infectious cadence. Just like a typical Dua Lipa song, the chorus meshes perfectly with the song’s exciting beats that are guaranteed to make listeners groove.

French Exit” and “Maria” feature mighty flamenco guitar resonance, which sounds hypnotizing and exhilarating.

Maria” is an interesting track with a unique addition of a high-pitched flute riff that repeats before each verse.

The track is a laid-back letter to her partner’s ex, saying thank you for shaping him to become the person he is today. Her authenticity shines through with honest lyrics, “Now he is everything I’d ever want. I wanna thank you for all that you’ve done.”

French Exit” vividly paints Dua Lipa’s overwhelming confidence and unbothered attitude about severing ties with her ex and prioritizing her peace of mind.

Dua Lipa’s lyrics show no remorse or second-guessing, but they would also make superior Instagram captions, “It’s not a broken heart if I don’t break it. Goodbye doesn’t hurt if I don’t say it.”

However, this album wouldn’t have the hype it does without the three stand-alone singles Dua Lipa premiered earlier this year, “Houdini,” “Training Season” and “Illusion.”

Illusion” sounds similar to Dua Lipa’s discography with a punchy chorus. When listening with headphones, the post-chorus and bridge interpolate from ear to ear, creating a trippy echoing effect that’s typical of Dua Lipa’s electronic pop style.

Falling Forever” displays Dua Lipa’s cinematic vocals from the first note, but that isn’t the only standout aspect of the song. The roaring drums that resemble a powerful rock ballad overwhelm the chorus.

The song is a raw, emotive track that Dua Lipa usually avoids, but its ballad style works impeccably well with the rest of the album.

Dua Lipa serves a striking conclusion to the album with “Happy For You,” a passive-aggressive dedication to her ex.

Happy For You” is a lament to Dua Lipa’s ex, showing she has moved on and is happy, yet the lyrics Dua Lipa chose for this song are surface-level and lack a deeper meaning.

The chorus lacks poetic depth with lyrics like, “I must’ve loved you more than I ever knew. ‘Cause I’m happy for you. I’m not mad, I’m not hurt. You got everything you deserve.”

While poetic lyrics aren’t vital for a great pop song, incorporating poetic elements can add depth to the album’s half-baked playfulness.

Dua Lipa compensates for her lack of poeticism by incorporating the sound of chirping birds to “Happy For You,” so listeners can relax to conclude from the album’s energetic nature.

Dance pop isn’t supposed to be thought-provoking, but a bit of vulnerability from Dua Lipa would be nice, so listeners can see a side of her that isn’t all about girlbossing in the club.

Despite an absence of thought-provoking lyrics, Dua Lipa’s “Radical Optimism” creates an out-of-this-world dance-pop album perfect to dance the night away this summer.

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About the Contributor
Mia Huss
Mia Huss, A&E Staffer
(she/her) Mia is a graduating senior majoring in political science and journalism. She has worked as a freelance journalist covering local government in her hometown. This is her first semester with The State Hornet.
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