Rita Ora: You & I – Romantic bliss and some baffling Fatboy Slim

Multifaceted Londoner delivers functional breezy album but is capable of far better

You & I
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Artist: Rita Ora
Genre: Pop
Label: BMG

She has been a fixture on the music scene for more than a decade, so it’s somewhat surprising that Rita Ora is releasing only her third album when most of her pop peers have churned out records at regular intervals. Then again, the Londoner has been busy establishing herself as an actor, TV host and reality-competition panelist. She has also been a prolific collaborator, featuring on songs by everyone from Tiesto to Kygo and Sigala and clocking up 10 billion streams in the process.

In the period between her last album, Phoenix, from 2018, and this one, there has also been the matter of a high-profile romance with her now husband, the director Taika Waititi. Her newfound state of romantic bliss is documented on several songs here, most notably the title track (“I’m dancing in your arms to Eternal Flame / I know my life is never gonna be the same”), the Rihanna-esque Waiting for You and Praising You, a somewhat baffling reworking of Fatboy Slim’s biggest hit, with input from Norman Cook himself.

There is plenty of shade to counter the light, however, as heard on Unfeel It and You Only Love Me, although themes of self-acceptance and personal growth loom large, too, on Girl in the Mirror and Look at Me Now. There’s nothing particularly wrong with these songs, which are largely short and reasonably breezy; the biggest problem is that you’ve heard them all before. Ora is capable of better than this.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times