Review | Where does Dua Lipa’s feel-good music fit in our feel-bad world?


In popland, the ruling class continues to make album covers at sea. The artwork for SZA’s long tail blockbuster, 2022’s “SOS,” finds the singer plopped on a plank, gazing out at an oceanic vastness meant to represent our alienating and unknowable world. On the cover of Billie Eilish’s upcoming “Hit Me Hard and Soft,” the pop star is submerged in dark water, sinking into a liquid dream. As for the cover of Dua Lipa’s latest, “Radical Optimism,” it was photographed at the waterline, depicting the 28-year-old from the shoulders up in golden evening wear, staring down a shark’s dorsal fin as it slices in her direction. If this image isn’t trying to evoke a scene from an old James Bond movie, it’s a comment on optimism in an age of grievance and paranoia, right? The glass is half full, but the water is still teeming with stuff that wants to kill you.

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