Dua Lipa’s tearful announcement that Future Nostalgia would be coming a week earlier than planned showed, not that it were needed, that these are emotional times.
The singer was talking about her new record, but its release comes against a backdrop of international crisis. Her words were delivered, like most messages from artists in this international lockdown period, via Instagram Live. And fans can surely expect to see a lot more of Dua Lipa on social media in the coming weeks and months.
The BRIT Award-winning singer has laid the groundwork smartly for her second album, the follow-up to her 2017 self-titled debut, which peaked at No.3 and has 598,446 sales to date, according to the Official Charts Company. Introductory hit Don’t Start Now kicked off the new campaign, peaking at No.2 in November. It topped the UK airplay chart and has 881,224 sales to date. Physical came last month, hitting No.7. It has 207,697 sales. The title track, released in conjunction with the announcement of a tour that has since been postponed, has moved 39,586 units.
The visuals have struck a chord, too. Photographer Hugo Comte has shot everything, serving as art director on a campaign that has seen Dua Lipa attempt to change the face of pop radio with her new, disco-inspired direction. Both singles came with two video treatments each. New single Break My Heart came out yesterday and has 452,119 YouTube views.
Everything was bubbling up nicely, says Tap Music head of marketing Hannah Neaves when Music Week calls the day before release, until the team was immersed in a truly chaotic situation. On Monday, they made the decision to bring the album, which is released via Warner Records, forward a week. Four days later, here it it is, out there in the world. Read on to find out how they did it…
What has this week been like?
“It’s been very emotional, especially for Dua. Everyone has been on the campaign trail for so long, the fact that we’re not in a room together feels quite weird. It’s the general emotional strain of the situation we’re all in, globally, and then this on top. It’s a fine line for us not to feel like we’re being sales-y or crass, or trying to promote something commercial in a time of huge stress and upset for a lot of people. The fact that this is a really fun-filled album is part of the reason it feels OK to go ahead with it. People need some distraction, some good times. It’s been a mad scramble, hopefully it all pays off. The support from retail and DSPs has been brilliant and everyone is pulling out every single stop to make sure we’re ready. The competition is a bit chocka this week but we’ll see how we do, we want a No.1, obviously. It feels tougher than it would have been but we’re doing everything we can.”
These are pretty unique circumstances to be releasing what has been billed as one of the year’s biggest records…
“A lot of logistical decisions were made around preparing for the impact of Covid-19. Dua felt very conflicted about releasing an album in the current climate, she didn’t want it to seem like she was doing something crass. When it came down to it we were so close to release anyway it felt like the right thing to do to get it out there. Dua has always said this is a fun, party album and it’s about letting yourself go and having a great time. There’s no ballad on the album, there are moments of vulnerability but it’s all packed within a very disco feel. She calls it ‘dance crying’. That’s always been the theme. It was always the intention to have a feelgood party album and that helped her make the decision. Right now it’s what people need. She has a firm belief that once she’s released a record it doesn’t belong to her anymore, it belongs to her fans.”
It was always the intention to have a feelgood party album, right now, that's what people need
How pleased are you with the campaign so far?
“Until this week, really pleased! We’ve really gone for it creatively and visually, Dua knew the people she wanted to work with, they put a lot of focus into not only the hero content of the official promo videos, but also a huge secondary piece of content for each track, a live video for Don’t Start Now, a workout video for Physical. We’ve been shooting for six months relentlessly, we’re really pleased and she’s worked so hard, as has the whole team. The results are brilliant and visually we’re really pleased as well. She had a very singular vision about making a record that spoke to historical genres, disco, ’90s house, ’80s synthpop. That was a brave decision, she’s changing the sonic of radio to a certain extent with the tracks she’s put out so far.”
The title track has been out there a while too, what’s the story there?
“It was the first song she wrote for the album and it basically sums up the entire theme, in the lyrics she’s talking about what people want to hear and what the future looks and sounds like, it’s really powerful. We released it in conjunction with the announcement of the Future Nostalgia tour, it was never a single, then we went with Don’t Start Now and Physical.”
It’s been a mad scramble, hopefully it all pays off
Can you explain Dua Lipa’s understanding of pop music?
“She understands pop culture brilliantly. She has a lot of references from historical pop, she’s 24 so the ’90s is a massive part of her development. She’s always been surrounded by pop music and really does have a love for it. She really consumes it. It’s that generational thing where she grew up listening to everything. Visually and musically she learned so much from her first record. She got so much experience from that first album campaign and got herself into a place where she knew exactly what she wanted to do and could drive the creative conversation. She works really, really, really hard, which always helps. She really appreciates her fans and doesn’t take anything for granted, that’s a massive part of who she is and why she’s so successful.”
What’s your message to her on release day?
“I wish I could give her a really big hug. That’s what I would be doing if I was with her. That, and telling her that she needs to be proud of what she’s achieved and worked so hard on, and should feel good about handing this record over to her fans, because they will love it. As much as everyone is struggling to feel good at the moment, she should feel good about getting this record out.”
Look out for more on Dua Lipa on musicweek.com next week. To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.