Dua Lipa is all about 'Radical Optimism,' in her music and other pursuits

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NEW YORK (AP) — Dua Lipa is floating successful nan ocean, nan sun conscionable opening to group down her. She looks strong, serene — prevention for nan looming threat of a monolithic shark, fin conscionable breaching nan aboveground a fewer feet away.

The image is nan screen of her 3rd album, “Radical Optimism,” retired Friday. It is an apt ocular practice for an medium astir uncovering and protecting your bid successful vulnerable waters — a thematic maturation for nan Grammy-award winning popular superstar, who has agelong identified her sound arsenic “dance-crying.”

That cheeky word encapsulates nan clubby jubilance of her biggest popular hits, but “Radical Optimism,” pinch its psychedelic electro-pop, complicates it.

“There’s decidedly thing much cathartic that comes pinch nan 3rd album,” she told The Associated Press recently.

“‘Future Nostalgia’ was my chance for maine to beryllium capable to do a very polished pop-dance-disco record,” she says of her 2020 sophomore release. “Radical Optimism,” alternatively, was informed by what she’s learned from touring nan world complete nan past fewer years — drafting power from travel hop and Britpop and including newfound liking successful unrecorded instrumentation.

“It was truthful overmuch much free flowing,” she says of her latest album’s imaginative process. “And it didn’t person a formula, per se, but I ever had that popular sensibility successful nan backmost of my mind. But I wanted to conscionable research and effort and create thing new. But I deliberation this was ever benignant of nan medium that I’ve ever wanted to make.”

In much ways than one: Around her first album, Lipa wrote down that she’d for illustration to activity pinch Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker — specifically connected her 3rd album. The manifestation worked, and he became a important collaborator connected “Radical Optimism.”

“It was almost for illustration thing heavy down, instinctively, was telling maine that it was thing earned,” she says. “That complete clip I would beryllium capable to spell successful and activity pinch a imaginative that I was truthful inspired by, and to beryllium successful a room and study from him.”

As for nan album’s title: “It’s euphoric, it’s togetherness,” she says.

“Dance euphony has specified a agelong history of creating specified a safe space. And I conscionable want to embody that,” she adds.

She’s been moving difficult to get there. Lipa, now 28, began her profession astatine property 15, erstwhile she convinced her family to fto her move from Kosovo to London, wherever she was born, to prosecute a popular career. She went to school, modeled, and successful 2017 released her eponymous debut medium pinch nan blockbuster dance-pop hits “New Rules” and “One Kiss.” Then came nan nu-disco electropop of 2020’s “Future Nostalgia,” which solidified her position arsenic 1 of popular music’s biggest players. Not bad for a unsocial sound successful nan streaming era, wherever capturing nan attraction of nan masses — and sustaining it — has ne'er been much of a challenge.

In 2024, her popular songs incorporate a benignant of learned elasticity. The melodies stack atop different synth sounds, nan vocal scope stretches (particularly connected nan trim “Falling Forever”), nan creation breaks inspired by U.K. rave civilization and format-benders Primal Scream and Massive Attack — they’re each elements Lipa says she wouldn’t person dared effort connected her past album. That came from moving pinch Parker, shaper Danny L Harle, songwriter Tobias Jesso Jr. (known for his activity pinch Harry Styles and Adele ), and Lipa’s longtime collaborator Caroline Ailin.

“She understands really to grip a batch of opinions successful nan room, including her own,” Jesso tells nan AP. “She doesn’t worth hers supra anyone else’s, she simply uses nan ones which activity champion for what she is trying to achieve.”

“We were a band,” Lipa says of nan group. The first time they wrote “Illusion.” The 2nd day, “Happy for You.” (“I’d ne'er written a opus for illustration that before,” she points out. “And I loved that type of myself.”) The 3rd day, nan post-disco popular of “Whatcha Doing.” In bright, airy studios successful London and Malibu, they finessed what would go Lipa’s astir eager — and euphoric-sounding — grounds to date.

That experimentation appears crossed Lipa’s endeavors, too. She’s acting much — “little babe roles!” she says pinch a grin — aft playing Mermaid Barbie successful the blockbuster “Barbie” (she besides contributed nan ubiquitous, Grammy-nominated song “Dance nan Night” to nan soundtrack ) and LaGrange, a sultry spy successful “Argylle” (a little capacity AP movie professional Jake Coyle described arsenic the movie’s champion fewer minutes ).

In 2022, she founded a newsletter called Service95, what she views arsenic an hold of a puerility blog, to “tell stories from each astir nan world, not solely from a Western lens,” she says. It has grown into a website, podcast and book club: “It’s conscionable different hobby of excavation that I’ve someway managed to move into a job, which is conscionable great,” she says, smiling.

“My time job, which is my euphony career, which I love, comes pinch perpetually being online. And I deliberation for me, astatine slightest now I’m searching for different things, and not doomscrolling connected Twitter,” she says of her media enterprise. “At slightest this measurement I’m for illustration learning thing caller astir nan world. I emotion having that benignant of duality successful my life.”

It’s a duality fueled by curiosity, for illustration erstwhile Lipa made headlines precocious past twelvemonth for challenging Apple CEO Tim Cook successful an question and reply connected her podcast complete reports of children successful nan Democratic Republic of Congo mining cobalt for iPhones.

“That was scary, and really exciting,” she says. “You ne'er really cognize what to expect erstwhile you spell successful to question and reply someone.”

A fewer days aft visiting nan AP’s New York headquarters, Lipa appears astatine a nationalist precocious schoolhouse connected nan Upper East Side of Manhattan to speak to students successful a speech moderated by Drew Barrymore.

“One of nan things I respect astir her is really incredibly intelligent she is,” Barrymore says successful her introduction, commending Lipa for not only being an “icon,” but personification who is “globally aware.”

In conversation, Lipa is generous and warm, peculiarly to a freshman play student named Dolce, who is besides Albanian, and expresses a desire to make it successful nan intermezo industry. Lipa tells her that identity, intentionally aliases not, is woven into her music.

At nan extremity of nan event, Lipa says she feels “optimistic astir life overall, everything that comes pinch it,” and takes a infinitesimal to look retired astatine nan audience. “I’m nan astir optimistic astir nan adjacent generation.”

And then, almost arsenic swiftly arsenic she arrived, Lipa leaves. A lingering positivity permeates nan air. It recalls thing she told nan AP earlier successful nan week: that she strives to beryllium “violently happy” successful life and successful her endeavors.

“You sometimes person to push yourself into that feeling,” she says. Remaining grateful is “definitely a musculus that needs to beryllium exercised.”

On “Radical Optimism,” she’s written nan workout soundtrack.