Rita Ora – 'Ora' album review
By Sharon O'Connell
There’s no more room for the wildly experimental in the Top 20 than there is for a Heston Blumenthal dish on the KFC menu. So if an artist has already basked in UK number one single glory twice this year, they’re unlikely to start messing with a proven formula. After all, both sales figures and what a label exec would term ‘cross-platform visibility’ attest to the invincibility of the Rihanna/ Beyoncé pop model, which Rita Sahatçiu Ora follows dutifully on this debut.
The 21-year-old west Londoner was first pitched into the spotlight as the vocalist on DJ Fresh’s smash single ‘Hot Right Now’ back in February. And she was still hot three months later, when she scored a number one with her own ‘RIP’, featuring Tinie Tempah. Now, she needs to show whether she can go the album distance.
Ora is signed to Jay-Z’s label – where presumably investment isn’t too stingy – and clearly has the chops to be in this thing for the long term. She’s a powerhouse vocalist in a team that features production heavyweights like Stargate, Will.i.am and The-Dream, delivering over-familiar but highly effective, potential chart gold.
The problem is that there’s so little of Ora here. The sleek R&B-pop hybrid that dominates mainstream music with jack booted determination seems to have all but eliminated her own personality. ‘RIP’, for example, was originally written by Drake for Rihanna, which means Ora necessarily assumes the latter’s identity. Weird.
Still, the funky, growling wallop of ‘Roc the Life’ is irresistible, ‘How We Do (Party)’ is as much attitudinal fun as you’d expect from that title, and ‘Uneasy’ pushes all the right ‘Run This Town’-style buttons. It’s just that all Ora really gets to do is channel a sound now so ubiquitous it’s carpet-bombed our consciousness.