16 Songs, 55 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Rita Ora is resilient. The seven years between her debut album and this powerful follow-up were, by all accounts, tough, with record label legal entanglements, high-profile relationship drama, and unseemly rumors. “I was like, ‘I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m frustrated, I’m alone, I’m single, I’m sexless,’” she told curator Arjan Timmermans on Beats 1’s The A-List Pop. “Not anymore.” Armed with renewed self-confidence and a good-vibes-only outlook, she started fresh. Phoenix, of course, is a nod to rebirth. The album is adventurous, triumphant, and unflinchingly honest. “My fans deserve to know exactly how I feel, exactly what I went through, and exactly why they had to wait so bloody long for a Rita Ora album,” she said. Here are the stories behind a few of the album’s standout songs.

Falling to Pieces
“‘Falling to Pieces’ was the first time [many of the album’s writers] had come to London. They asked me, ‘What is this city about?’ And I said, ‘Let’s start off with that, because this is where I’m from.’ It became incredibly emotional. London was rainy and dark that day, which is what we had mood-wise, but the song has this sense of empowerment to it. It feels like London—incredible people of all different personalities, cultures, races. It’s one of my favorites on the album.”

Keep Talking
“Julia Michaels and I were in the studio, both pissed off about something, and I was like, ‘Don’t you just hate it when people just keep talking about you, and they don’t know you, and you just want to scream from the rooftops and be like, 'You’re all wrong!' And she said, ‘They can just keep talking.’ And the song started. I wanted it to feel like two girls talking about something they had in common. Chris Martin, who is an absolute legend, helped take this song to another level. He put that Chris Martin dust on it.”

Soul Survivor
“‘Soul Survivor’ is, for me, the most honest I’ve ever been with myself, let alone my fans. I’m good at pretending things haven’t happened, at compartmentalizing things. This was the moment I said, 'I want to talk about being a survivor.' Because I don’t think anybody went through what I went through, with such powerful individuals in the industry, sacrificing maybe being blacklisted forever because of the moves I had to make to survive. I felt like that was an inspiring story. ‘It’s been seven long years/Fighting for your attention/Manipulated by fear and misdirection.’ That’s just the opening line. It isn’t about anyone in specific, but the demons I had to face to get here. Without this song, I probably would never have believed in myself.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Rita Ora is resilient. The seven years between her debut album and this powerful follow-up were, by all accounts, tough, with record label legal entanglements, high-profile relationship drama, and unseemly rumors. “I was like, ‘I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m frustrated, I’m alone, I’m single, I’m sexless,’” she told curator Arjan Timmermans on Beats 1’s The A-List Pop. “Not anymore.” Armed with renewed self-confidence and a good-vibes-only outlook, she started fresh. Phoenix, of course, is a nod to rebirth. The album is adventurous, triumphant, and unflinchingly honest. “My fans deserve to know exactly how I feel, exactly what I went through, and exactly why they had to wait so bloody long for a Rita Ora album,” she said. Here are the stories behind a few of the album’s standout songs.

Falling to Pieces
“‘Falling to Pieces’ was the first time [many of the album’s writers] had come to London. They asked me, ‘What is this city about?’ And I said, ‘Let’s start off with that, because this is where I’m from.’ It became incredibly emotional. London was rainy and dark that day, which is what we had mood-wise, but the song has this sense of empowerment to it. It feels like London—incredible people of all different personalities, cultures, races. It’s one of my favorites on the album.”

Keep Talking
“Julia Michaels and I were in the studio, both pissed off about something, and I was like, ‘Don’t you just hate it when people just keep talking about you, and they don’t know you, and you just want to scream from the rooftops and be like, 'You’re all wrong!' And she said, ‘They can just keep talking.’ And the song started. I wanted it to feel like two girls talking about something they had in common. Chris Martin, who is an absolute legend, helped take this song to another level. He put that Chris Martin dust on it.”

Soul Survivor
“‘Soul Survivor’ is, for me, the most honest I’ve ever been with myself, let alone my fans. I’m good at pretending things haven’t happened, at compartmentalizing things. This was the moment I said, 'I want to talk about being a survivor.' Because I don’t think anybody went through what I went through, with such powerful individuals in the industry, sacrificing maybe being blacklisted forever because of the moves I had to make to survive. I felt like that was an inspiring story. ‘It’s been seven long years/Fighting for your attention/Manipulated by fear and misdirection.’ That’s just the opening line. It isn’t about anyone in specific, but the demons I had to face to get here. Without this song, I probably would never have believed in myself.”

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About Rita Ora

Born in Pristina, Kosovo but raised in London, pop singer Rita Ora made her first official appearance in 2007 when she guested on Craig David's single "Awkward." A year later she joined Tinchy Stryder on his single "Where's Your Love," but her big break came in 2009 when an open-mike performance attended by one of Jay-Z's A&R men landed her a deal with the rapper's label, Roc Nation. In 2012, she provided the vocals for DJ Fresh's drum'n'bass hit "Hot Right Now," which topped the charts in the U.K. She returned to the number one spot that same year with her debut solo single, "R.I.P." Ora also released her debut album, simply titled Ora, which went straight to the number one spot on the U.K. album charts. ~ David Jeffries

HOMETOWN
Pristina, Kosovo
GENRE
Pop
BORN
November 26, 1990

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