After the long life of Dua Lipa’s 2020 sophomore album “Future Nostalgia” — which was pandemic dance therapy for so many — there’s been a hot remix album, a year-long world tour, a global hit single with Elton John and her effervescent single from “Barbie,” so it really doesn’t seem like Variety‘s 2022 co-Hitmaker of the Year been absent. Yet it’s been almost three years since “Nostalgia” dropped, and today we get the first look at her next chapter with “Houdini,” the lead single and video from her still-untitled third full-length album.
It’s a banger alright, with a driving beat, a throbbing bass hook and some very ‘80s synthesizer washes vaguely reminiscent of Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life.” The lyrics aren’t about the legendary escape artist except in a symbolic sense (“I’m not here for long/ Catch me or I go Houdini”). In the announcement, she says, “This track represents the most light and freeing parts of my singledom. ’Houdini’ is very tongue in cheek, exploring the idea of whether someone is really worth my while or if I’ll ghost them in the end. You never know where something may take you, that’s the beauty of being open to whatever life throws your way.”
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“Houdini” is both a progression from and a continuation of “Future Nostalgia”: The song’s hard beat and dancefloor vibe are pretty much exactly what fans of that album will be hoping for, but its musical backing — coming from the inspired pairing of Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and Caroline Polachek/ Charli XCX collaborator Danny L. Harle — is more melodically nuanced than that album’s stadium-sized hooks. “Houdini” is still big, but there’s more going on around the edges, and an unexpected new hook drops into the song’s last minute that brings it to a different place. The song was written by Lipa with Parker and Harle as well as top-flight songwriters Tobias Jesso Jr. (Adele, Harry Styles, Miley Cyrus) and Caroline Ailin (whose cowritten several Lipa hits).
There’s been little advance word about what the new album sounds like. She recently told the New York Times that it’s inspired by “1970s style psychedelia” (although there’s little indication of that here). In early 2022 when Lipa told Elton John on her “Dua Lipa: At Your Service podcast” that it was halfway finished, but speaking with Variety late last year, she said, “It’s taken a complete turn as I’ve carried on working, and I really feel now that it’s starting to sound cohesive. So I’m going to keep writing in the early months of the new year and see where that takes me. The album is different — it’s still pop but it’s different sonically, and there’s more of a lyrical theme. If I told you the title, everything would make sense — but I think we’ll just have to wait.”
There’s no official release date yet, but album is expected early next year, so the wait will soon be over.
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