It’s been six years since Rita Ora’s debut album, and considering that equates to a couple of decades in pop music, there were expectations for her sophomore effort to justify the wait. Phoenix is not a flop by any means, but it does leave me somewhat underwhelmed.
Undoubtedly, the singles leading up to the record’s release set the stage for a carefree electro-pop party. The Ed Sheeran-penned ‘Your Song’ was stripped back for Ora, containing an infectious beat and impressive vocals, while follow-up ‘Anywhere’ was the singer’s biggest hit since 2014’s ‘I Will Never Let You Down’. The track was so big, even my mum had to buy it. Fellow singles ‘For You’ – taken from the Fifty Shades soundtrack, a franchise in which Rita appears – and the controversial bi-curious banger ‘Girls’ were not quite on the same level, but still delivered the goods. It was only until ‘Let You Love Me’ that my anticipation peaked: a truly addictive track that remains the album’s highlight.
However, when listening to Phoenix as full body of work, two clear thoughts sprang to mind. The first was that I’d already heard half of the album before, as on top of the numerous singles I’ve already mentioned Ora includes her collaborations with the late-producer Avicii and English group Rudimental, ‘Lonely Together’ and ‘Summer Love’. My second thought was that outside of this huge collection of previously-released material, the record’s other tracks don’t leave much of an impression. While Ora is hardly renowned for her deeply complex and heartrending lyricism, songs like ‘First Time High’ are begging to be forgotten. Do we really need another throwaway tune packed full of ‘ooh’s, ‘ah’s and ‘la la la’s?
The last six years have been busy for Ora; releasing a fashion line for Adidas, having judging spots on The X Factor and Voice UK, temporarily replacing Tyra Banks as the host of America’s Next Top Model, all alongside her acting and musical efforts. Unfortunately, Phoenix proves that the all-rounder may just be a Jack of all trades, but a master of none.
Star Rating: 2/5