BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited (label)
27 January 2023 (released)
29 January 2023
Don’t get me wrong. I love Rita Ora. Frankly, her perseverance and determination to release music on her own terms is no short of remarkable. The singer, whose career has been plagued by bitter legal disputes between herself and label bosses, this morning released ‘You Only Love Me’ – the first single under her new deal with independent distributor, BMG.
Although Ora’s newfound musical freedom instils a sense of relief among fans, who will more-than-likely hope that the new record contract entails a lesser wait between albums three and four (Rita released her debut in 2012, followed by her sophomore six years later in 2018), one thing it doesn’t seem to warrant is a new era of sound. For me, ‘YOLM’ is overly familiar and an attempt to replicate the commercial success of her previous dance-pop hits, such as ‘Anywhere’ or last year’s Sigala collaboration, ‘You For Me’. Featuring heavy electro-pop production and keyboard infused instrumentation, ‘You Only Love Me’ does however serve as Ora’s official confirmation that she married her New Zealand filmmaker beau, Taika Waititi (if you need further verification of this, please refer to the accompanying music video)!
Whilst I would argue that ‘YOLM’ is sonically underwhelming, lyrically, it gives light to Ora’s vulnerability and definitely emits a clear sense of maturity when compared to her earlier discography. It is probably fair to assume that many would argue that an electro-pop song complemented by lyrics at the mercy of public scrutiny is contradictive. Yet, Ora executes this musical juxtaposition with success, both audibly and visually in the video.
In spite of the earlier criticisms, overall, Rita’s latest release is promising. On reflection, perhaps my expectations were too high. Admittedly, once it came to my attention that GRAMMY award winning production giant, Oak Felder was heavily involved in the composition of the single, I was, for want of a better phrase, expecting something more ‘auditorily experimental’. Ultimately, this gentleman is credited with having produced some of the best-selling, and arguably most sonically tentative, pop/RnB artists of the twenty first century (Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, Kehlani among others). Overall, I’m so excited for RO3. I don’t think ‘You Only Love Me’ should’ve been issued as the lead single, but I’m hoping to be proved entirely wrong and that listening to the track more frequently will result in an ever-developing fondness for this slow-burner.