Photo credit: Rita Ora / BMG
Release Date: 07/14/2023
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Rita Ora has just dropped her highly anticipated third studio album ‘You & I‘ – her first studio release in 5 years.
After the critical acclaim and commercial success of Phoenix (2018), Rita took a long extended break from recording. Last year, she signed an exciting new record deal allowing her to own her masters. With ‘You & I’ it’s clear she is trying to pick up right where she left off. We’ve gotten a glimpse of what to expect in January with the lead single You Only Love Me, followed by 2 more singles – Praising You and Don’t Think Twice.
‘You & I’ is Rita’s most intimate record
Fun fact: This is the first album with Rita having co-writing credit on every song. As a result of that, the record feels more intimate and personal than ever. We are invited into Ora’s world, as she embraces on themes of relationships, self-expression and personal growth.
Don’t Think Twice – A disco-infused pop serves as a perfect album opener, sets the tune for the album . We’ve discussed and analyzed the song in our official single review
You Only Love Me – Released as a lead single, this fast club/dance track with a bouncy beat and haunting chorus gets stuck in your head from the very first listen. The song is about the uncertainty and insecurity that comes with starting a new romantic relationship, when emotions are intense, and uncertainties prevail.
Praising You (feat Fatboy Slim) – Second single is a reedition of FatBoy Slim’ classic ‘Praise You‘. If you were born in the 90s or simply just had the pleasure of living through the era, there’s a good chance you remember the OG song and its cult video. No surprise Rita’s modern take on it topped the Billboard dance chart just weeks ago. It might be one of the greatest reworked songs of all time.
Unfeel It – The song is running on pulsating beats, powered by Ora’s vocals. You can feel the heavy hints of late 00s influences, especially the verses that bring back a sense of nostalgia. Lyrically, she delves into the exhilaration of falling in love
I don’t love you
F*** you, I love you
I never meant to give my heart away
It’s an obsession
Closer to heaven
I’m freakin’ out, I’m freakin’ out, I’m freakin’ out, I’m freakin‘
Entering a new stage of life and opening to a new relationship can be a scary thing.
Waiting For You – A fun electronic brit pop, driving on high-energy melodies. The chorus itself was designed to get crowds pumped up and moving.
”Finally, I believe in all these love stories, they will come find you when it’s time”
Rita reflects back on a period of time when she had given up on love and was comfortable being single until that one person came along and changed everything.
You & I – Album’s title track was produced by Cirkut – known for his incredible work for The Weeknd, Maroon 5 or recently on Kim Petras’ Grammy winning song Unholy. The soft tones of piano are taking the center stage here, slowly building up on drums and synth riffs for more depth. Rita sends an intimate love message to her husband and delivers a touching tribute to their relationship.
That Girl – High spirited dance song with an upbeat production. Personally, for me this isn’t the strongest song on the album, but still enjoyable nonetheless. Throughout its catchy hooky moments, it reminds you live life to the fullest and embrace the party spirit.
Shape Of Me – We’re now taking a detour from the theme of romance and dive into the theme of self-love. Shape Of Me, the first of the trio of girl-power anthemic songs, plays fully around a marching beat. The song is Rita’s ode to her mom as she honors the woman who have played a pivotal role in shaping her into the person she is today.
Look At Me Now – Soaring piano ballad that pulls at the heartstrings but radiates positivity and self-power.
On this song Rita captured the range of emotions experienced during her journey for self-acceptance and resilience
Take it with a pinch of salt
People always come and go
I won’t keep my enemies close
The more you see, the more you learn
Better off for being burnt
Breathe it in, then let it go
It’s a celebration of personal growth and finding happiness within yourself. A true reminder to stand tall, no matter what others may say or do.
Girl In The Mirror – Closing her 3-songs therapy session is Girl In The Mirror. The song starts with a slow rhythm verse before it amps up the tempo and adds a high-energy dance beat on choruses.
”We’ve got such a crazy past, she always used to put me last. I’m in love with the girl in the mirror”
One last time, Rita encourages us to embrace our imperfections and never neglect the relationship we have with ourselves. The message is clear, we can move on!
Notting Hill – From its dreamy and almost ethereal sound of piano vs. percussion to the impeccable production. This is one of the real standouts and probably my favorite song on the album. Showcasing her range and control, Rita is serving vocals like nobody’s business.
In her telling, Ora transports us back to her younger years, evoking emotions and memories of her youth and the connections formed during those moments. She is longing for the simplicity and thrill of that time.
I Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend – We’re wrapping things up with the last song on the album. The song has a minimalist start sneakily building to a powerful chorus. With its atmospheric production and warm vocals this is the only and the correct way to end this record.
Rita perfectly describes a situation when you’re starting new relationship and you’re not sure where its going, yet you feel like you can’t live without the other person and you want them to know, but you’re too scared of possible rejection.
While the album is an enjoyable, well-rounded listening experience, it doesn’t offer the groundbreaking production of her previous record.
But ‘You & I’ is a celebration of love.
Love for our dearest and love for ourselves.
And maybe that’s enough!