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Rita Ora 'Ora' album review

Jon OBrien
17 September 2012

A virtual unknown this time last year, (unless you're an eagle-eyed viewer of 2009 Eurovision search Your Country Needs You), 21-year-old Rita Ora has assembled the kind of behind-the-scenes team that most of her Roc Nation label-mates could only dream about for her imaginatively-titled debut album, 'Ora.'

Think of any massive chart smash from the last couple of years and it's pretty likely that either the producers or song-writers behind it are also present here. From studio wizards Fraser T. Smith (Adele's 'Someone Like You') to Greg Kurstin (Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger') and Stargate (Katy Perry's 'Firework') to superstars in their own right will.i.am, J. Cole and Tinie Tempah, its 12 tracks are chock-loaded with hit-making talent.

It's no surprise therefore that Ora has already yielded three number one singles, the grimy Nneka-sampling dubstep of 'R.I.P.' (originally penned by Drake for Rihanna), the carefree polished pop of 'How We Do (Party)' and of course, the euphoric drum n' bass of 'Hot Right Now,' the DJ Fresh collaboration which helped to launch the Kosovan-born singer into the pop stratosphere.

The emphatic rock-tinged 'Roc The Life,' the gleaming neo-disco of 'Radioactive' and the Gwen Stefani-esque cheerleader pop of 'Uneasy' could potentially add to her tally, but Ora isn't always so concerned with producing radio-friendly anthems.

Indeed, the album is far more intriguing when it hands over the reigns to leftfield dance maestro Diplo, who works his off-kilter magic on the abrasive fusion of military beats and revving engines on opener 'Facemelt,' before contrastingly providing the album's two most melancholic moments with the confessional electro-ballad, 'Been Lying' and the gorgeous minimalistic 'Hello, Hi, Goodbye.'

However, the jarring and utterly chaotic trance-pop of 'Fall In Love' is a disappointing venture into the lazy 'having fun in the club' fare that its Black Eyed Peas guest star is so fond of, while Ora fails to inject enough of her own personality to diffuse the constant comparisons with the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna.

Considering its assembly-line list of credits, it's perhaps to be expected that 'Ora' sometimes appears a little faceless. But there's enough glimpses of invention here to suggest that if she can whittle down her background team for album number two, she may well step out of the shadows of her obvious idols.

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