When The World Went Lockdown, Our Homes Turned Into Private Dance Halls
It’s 2020. Clubs are closed. Bars are closed. Coffee shops are closed. The pandemic left little reason for joy until disco showed up, and brought “Dancing Queen” back to the mainstream.
When stuck in four walls for months, you can get quite creative in how to use the space around you — we all had to do it this year, and for many of us, it was a real challenge. Home ceased to be just a place to unwind after a long working day, sleep, wake up and leave for the same routine. Now, it’s the centre of our existence, now everything is here: your gym, office, art studio, coffee shop, restaurant… dance hall? Yes, even a dance hall. Dancing in a 100 sq room isn’t quite fancy— but it’s a good alternative to going mad in reluctant isolation.
It’s a strange coincidence but disco made a triumphal return into mainstream music this year: perhaps, the universe knew it’s about to get bleak. I remember how in 2018 — when Chaka Khan released “Like Sugar” — the thirst for funkiness had already been on the tip of the tongue, and someone had to dip it in water. In 2020, disco is a swimming pool, and pop stars are fighting for the best spot under the sun.
I’m writing this in December, meaning that the party is close to being over. Below is my absolutely subjective list of the best disco albums released this year.
Let’s dive in.
Dua Lipa and “Future Nostalgia”
Dua Lipa and her songwriters are well-behaved students: they did good research of the subject matter, took all the pieces needed and discarded everything that was too niche or musically complicated. The final product is noting from being excellent. It’s an A+, take a seat!
Jokes aside, “Future Nostalgia” is an album where everyone was made to hit you with sixty minutes of pure unceasing joy — what else would you want from a pop album in 2020? The album strikes a good balance between being relevant, agenda-wise, but not too manifest. As a whole, it’s an odyssey of sweet love overtures with a soft feminist touch.
Dua Lipa has also been navigating the growing trend of working from home — in her case, performing in front of a web camera. She did so on The Late Late Show with James Corden, and it’s kind of refreshing to see an artist in such non- glamorise decorations — it’s like: “oh, they live in flats and houses like ordinary people, and not just on a privately-owned island?”
Jessie Ware and “What’s Your Pleasure”
Jessie Ware is known for expanding her boundaries and adding new genres to her music empire artistic territories. “What’s Your Pleasure” finally brings her into the universal spotlight. It’s an album that has a quality of handheld danceability you can fit in the metes and bounds of your bedroom. The production is lush and rousing yet intimate and deep-toned —like a secret lover you want to keep just for yourself. Simply discolicious.
From Ware’s dramatic performance in “The Kill” to Nicolas Huchard’s stripped-down burlesque in “ What’s Your Pleasure” — the dance visuals for some of the song from the album are like documentary snippets of life behind lockdown. Watching her performance in Nest Sessions by Google makes me think how lucky we’re to live in the age of digitally-enhanced communication: even trapped in isolation we can still watch our favourite artists sharing their talents.
Lady Gaga and “Chromatica”
I can’t imagine a better time for Lady Gaga’s comeback than 2020. She hasn’t released a dance album in more than five years since her rambling “Artpop". This teary, Gaga is serving choleric beats on a flashing platter.
Born out of trauma and pain, “Chromatica” is a disco and house-inspired escape from the loneliness and desolation of the pandemic. The lead singles “Stupid Love” and “Rain On Me” have more of a cotton-candy texture while the rest of the album is actually quite heavy and… neurotic. It makes you sweat and ruminate hectically — like a good session of psychotherapy.
“Chromaica” is a crazy album but nothing really comes close to the madness of “Replay”. It’s frenetic to the degree of falling into a mental breakdown — which proves that Gaga is here, to tell the truth, even when it’s a pill hard to swallow. Yet, it’s completely in line with her character — we’ve seen Gaga getting incredibly candid before — especially at Oprah’s 2020 Vission Tour.
Roisin Murhpy and “Roisin Machine”
Since the release of her epic second album “Overpowered, Roisin Murphy went on a long and thorny journey of experimental pop and we could see her sound getting more and more sophisticated, yet often unattainable. In her latest release, the singer finally marrieds her “machine” and “human” sides, making a perfect dance record for a comfy-homey rave party your whole family could enjoy.
Murphy went way further than her colleagues in terms of home-confined touring. She doesn’t need an arena to deliver her music — a big living room suffice. Her live performance at “Home” is all that you need today: it’s eccentric, coquettish and, frankly speaking, refreshingly unpolished — featuring bizarre outfits, hallucinogenic visual and unguided vigour of one and only Roisin Murphy.
Wouldn’t mind hearing what your favourites are, actually. Do leave them in the comments.