ALBUM REVIEW: Rita Ora – ‘Phoenix’

Rita Ora is back with her highly anticipated sophomore record, ‘Phoenix’. 

Six and a half years on from her debut album, ORA, Phoenix is a triumphant return for Ora.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard the infectious, bubbling pop of singles ‘Anywhere’, ‘Your Song’ and ‘Let You Love Me’. Those Top 10 tracks may lack the screeching electronics that some of Ora’s friends and collaborators are using today, but they prove that no one can execute a pop track like the 27-year-old. Phoenix carries that message, it’s an album made to blast away the past six years, like Ora had never been away.

The ‘RIP’ singer knows she deserves to be the name on everyone’s lips and has pulled out every stunt to achieve that. Steve Mac (‘Woman Like Me’, ‘Shape of You’, ‘2002’) and Ed Sheeran leant a hand to ‘Your Song’, the Liam Payne-charged ‘For You’ had the promotion of Fifty Shades Freed behind it and, whatever you make of the headlines that came with it, roping in Charli XCX, Bebe Rexha and Cardi B to power the all-female ‘Girls’ created a deliciously sweet pop track.

Elsewhere, Rudimental feature on ‘Summerlove’, a glistening summer track that has been breaking at the seams to be released ever since its debut at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in 2017. It’s a new Rudimental single, but if released earlier, it would surely have become the sound of this summer. ‘First Time Love’ also screams out as a future single – it’s as neat and current as pop in 2018 comes.

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So excited to see you all finally!! It’s gonna be so much fun. Come and get wild with me on the Phoenix tour next year!! UK, Europe pre-order my new album before midnight to gain exclusive access to presale WED 31st OCT – link in bio! Where will i see you?!

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It’s not all sunshies and parties on Phoenix. ‘Cashmere’ is a more sultry offering whilst ‘Velvet Rope’ is a simple piano-led ballad. ‘Only Want You’ is a simple love story of longing, the hand of singer-songwriter to the stars Emily Warren, clear to hear and ‘Hell Of A Life’ is a breezy celebration of living.

There are even darker moments too. ‘Soul Survivor’ is by far the most personal track Ora has ever released, documenting her fall out with former label Roc Nation. It was that series of disagreements and lawsuits, that was resolved when Ora signed to Atlantic Records in September 2016, which stopped the popstar putting out the ORA follow-up sooner. “It’s been seven long years, fighting for your attention”, she opens before continuing, “Wrapped in your ugly chains, Swore you’d rise me to Heaven”. Every lyric in that track is dripping with both struggle and an overwhelming happines to be through that period – it’s an exceptional close to Phoenix.

Rita Ora may have been the face of TV shows, brand campaigns and in the headlines for just about anything other than her music over the past six years. Now, with Phoenix, it’s all blown out the water. Truly, any of these tracks are great enough to be hit singles. Put them all together and you have a knockout pop album.

First and foremost, Rita Ora is a popstar and this record is her reclaiming that title with a bang.

What are you making of Rita Ora’s Phoenix? Let us know @CelebMix on Twitter!

Written by Toby Bryant

Student journalist: music, sport, culture and just about anything in-between… Have worked for The Courier, NME, Daily Mirror, FourFourTwo & British Rowing, amongst others.
@toby_bryant_ on Twitter