Dua Lipa Radical Optimism ranking

A release day ranking of Dua Lipa’s disappointing new album Radical Optimism

Inspired by Britpop and 90s rave culture? Where?

It’s not easy to come off the back of an album like Future Nostalgia. Dua Lipa’s second album was a pandemic sanctuary, a truly outstanding pop record with back to back hits and no dull moments beyond a couple of duds haunting the rear end of the tracklist. It was a star making album era that spawned incredible live performances and a massive tour that felt like a roar of celebration when lockdowns were lifted. Naturally, expectations and pressure were high for Dua’s third record, Radical Optimism, to reach the same dizzy heights. Whilst the singles have been fun and have had decent commercial success, Dua Lipa released Radical Optimism today to a lukewarm response. Here’s my release day ranking of all the songs on Radical Optimism, the brand new album from Dua Lipa.

11. These Walls

In last is the tepid shrug of These Walls, a soft rock guitar led number that falls flat. It’s the biggest misfire on the record – a melody that doesn’t sound pleasant, a boring instrumental. In interviews before the album came out, Dua claimed Radical Optimism was influenced by 90s Britpop. Is this meant to be an example of that?

10. Anything For Love

I just vehemently believe that Dua Lipa should not do ballads. Her distinct tone sounds great on the vocal, and whilst the balladry is a false start and the beat kicks in over the halfway mark this just doesn’t hit the stride to ever make it feel essential. It’s the shortest on the album, but doesn’t leave you desperate for more.

9. Happy For You

Leaps and bounds better than Future Nostalgia’s closer Boys Will Be Boys, Happy For You still ends the album on a bit of a stale note for me. It has an early 2010s sound to its production that doesn’t feel stylistically cool, it feels dated. The drums sound especially tepid.

8. Maria

Some really great guitar work here, Kevin Parker and Danny L Harle giving it the big guns. My issue with Maria is the chorus, it drags the song down with boring lyricism. “Maria / I know you’re gone but I feel ya”… Like, come on. Where’s the fun word play! It doesn’t feel anthemic, even though the verses and Latin flair to the strings are at their most addictive.

7. French Exit

We’re getting to the good half of stuff here now, and this one I’m fond of. Needs more French, though. The little hints we get are the best bit.

6. Whatcha Doing

A maximalist opening full of shimmer and shine! Love it, more of this please. There’s a cool swagger to Whatcha Doing and Dua sounds completely at ease on it. Would be really at home on the Moonlight edition of Future Nostalgia. It’s a bit Dua Lipa on autopilot, but not always in the worst way.

5. Falling Forever

We’re boycotting Eurovision this year for obvious reasons, but here Dua Lipa fills the gap it’s left in my year with a song that sounds exactly like it would thrive in the jury votes. It’s got a big, campy vocal and an overblown instrumentation that is all a bit silly, but Dua Lipa giving it her all keeps it afloat.

4. Illusion

The third single from Radical Optimism is obviously going to be compared to previous Dua Lipa hit Hallucinate, but as of this release day ranking it’s still good enough to be sitting pretty in the top five. It’s nowhere near as good as Hallucinate, but any song comparable to that masterpiece is worth its salt. Goes hard, great video.

3. Training Season

Something felt a little bit underwhelming when Training Season dropped at the start of 2024, but it’s subtle brilliant. The guitar work here is just excellent – and the delicious melody of the chorus burrows into your psyche. Its simplicity as a straight up pop banger is what makes it so successful – when she sings “control” in the chorus and swings the whole thing up a notch hits so hard.

2. End of an Era

Radical Optimism starts off with an opening track that positions Dua Lipa three for three of starting her albums with an absolute 10/10 banger – and it just misses out on the top spot of this release day ranking. The groove and the psychedelia of End of an Era is exactly what the entirety of this album should have sounded like, but for whatever reason doesn’t. A great mood setter. Really cherishing it.

1. Houdini

The perfect lead single. Houdini is a straight up masterpiece. It oozes cool, it oozes attitude. The production throbs, Dua Lipa purrs over the top of it and it has a menacing urgency that you can’t help but dance to. Forgoing the balls to the wall bangerness of the singles from Future Nostalgia, Dua started the era with a cooler and more sophisticated strut. Best way to enjoy it is the extended mix which just takes the whole tune to another level. The first we heard from Radical Optimism, and still the best.

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