Rita Ora’s debut is perfectly formulaic experimental dance-pop fusion done very well.
After seeing her on Crunk & Disorderly, and Necole Bitchie for the better part of the past 9 months, I decided this weekend to find out exactly what Rita Ora was gonna bring the world.
The short answer is: indisputably cute fun. The long answer is Rita Ora makes noise; fun, loud, and powerful dance-pop noise. She seems much friendlier (or maybe just less messed up) than Rihanna, tons more palatable (read: tolerable) to public tastes than Katy Perry, and her voice is infinitely stronger, more capable, and more soulful than Lana Del Rey’s – not that I’m sure anyone ever thought (or said out loud) that Lana had a soulful voice.
Rita’s looks are also worth mentioning. She’s got one of those “could pass” faces. In this instance she could pass for some sort of mixed-up black. Except she’s not – she’s Albanian. But her make up, her fashion, and even her bleached out hair give Rita enough of the look to keep her on the hip hop blogs, and urban airwaves presumably longer than Izzy-Aga-Who??
The UK Release of Ora dropped last week, and overall I like it. There’s a very heavy early 90s hip hop dance feel to the record and seamlessly executed rock-pop fusion, as well as legit Euro-club beats. Obviously the production on this is tight, because we all know Jay-Z expects a full return on his investment. Even though everyone involved in the instrumentation was fully aware they were making pop music it’s obvious they enjoy making fun sounds. Honest, feel good fun (some gibberish), satisfactory cussin, and pretty much zero skankiness make up this debut.
MY TOP 5 PICKS
1. Roc The Life – This is my favorite track off the entire album. It’s wicked in your face, a legit girls’ night out club track. The obvious shout out to her label is super clever too. Favorite lyrics “Kick a motherfucker to cizzurb / You think you crazy / I’m bizzerk … Don’t pay them no never mind /You just a waste of time.”
2. Radioactive – This playful love-in-the-club song begins with the familiar keys typical to European dance tracks, takes a quick turn to early 90s funky hip-hop, followed up Ora channeling Caron Wheeler of Soull ii Soul with her soft, wistful confession of attraction. She displays soulful range on the pre-chorus, while the instrumentation delivers clean, reliable Euro-Dance fun.
3. Fall in Love (ft. Will.i.am) More dance. More pop. Simple. Repetitive. Rita’s voice is soft and seductive at first, and then the drum machine picks up and carries her to the chorus where she belts out her true intentions.
4. Hot Right Now – I first heard this on Ministry of Sound’s Addicted to Bass 2012 Compilation at the beginning of the year. Admittedly, had no idea it was Ora, but also had lots of great work outs to the track. My predisposition to bass, and familiarity with the track makes me love it.
5. Uneasy – Despite the rock sound at the beginning this track has Buffalo Stance written all over it. Rap verse, sing chorus. No shade, just saying what it is. Feeling these lyrics the most: “My make-up is my armor/for the dramas that I always fight…And if it gets easy I feels so uneasy/But I know you’ll never forget / the fact is that I walk alone…”
The record is fun, but it’s nothing outstanding. I don’t want to underestimate her, but I can’t help but wonder that the only reason there was a bunch of hype around Ora was because of who she’s affiliated with, and been tied to. It’s obvious that blogs gave her buzz because she’s gorgeous, and Rob Kardashian wouldn’t stop calling her his wifey on Twitter.
While I’m relieved she’s not nearly as trite as Katy Perry, or gimicky and uselessly weird as Ke$ha, I’d still prefer to see more genuine artistry on the pop canvas.
If there’s anything the past sixteen years of music has shown, it’s that lots of people can sing and dance, and be pretty if you let them. Everyone wants a fat paycheck, and it’s apparently not that difficult to get one in pop music, given the state of technology and the right amount of branding.
Ora will get her checks, and I cast her no shade on that front. I only hope she lasts as long as (if not longer than) her contemporaries, and eventually brings something either more relatable than her glamorous lifestyle, or something innovate and interesting – based less on scandal, and more on her own creativity.
There’s really nothing more grating on the proletariat consciousness than a rich pop-brat who’s made passable material, with little creative contribution, yet insists on grabbing at the lenses. I think Rita’s got more in her than to just be a publicity baby. Ultimately, I think she’s got a lot more sound to play with and put forth, and Ora is a good starting point.