Monday, July 15, 2024

Rita Ora Shares Her Favorite Party Tracks and Love Songs

Must read

press play logo

Press Play is a recurring column that looks at (and listens to) the songs that have shaped the life and work of beloved musical artists.


A lot has happened in Rita Ora’s life since her last album came out in 2018. The professional news: She left her old record label and signed a new deal with BMG that grants her ownership of all future master recordings. The personal news: She fell in love.

“There was a lot of emotional rebuilding,” Ora says of the past five years, settling into a couch in a New York hotel room in late April, while Team Rita packs up lights and clothing racks from an earlier shoot and surreptitiously drops off mini bottles of Diet Coke. Ora’s in town to attend the Met Gala, perform at the Prince’s Trust Gala, and do press for her new album, You & I, which came out last week.

“It’s very normal to change deals and get in and out of labels. A lot of artists are doing it right now—Halsey, Grimes, Anitta—and it’s a lot of females, which I find interesting,” she adds. “But I liked the idea of rebuilding my musical identity, and I loved the idea of this new modern structure where I’m teaming up with a label rather than having them be my boss. It all started to fall into place naturally along with my life changing.”

More From ELLE

preview for Watch Our Newest Videos

Last summer, Ora married New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi in a small ceremony, about a year after the couple made their red carpet debut at the L.A. premiere of The Suicide Squad. They worked together on her videos for the album’s singles, and she has not ruled out working with him on a larger project. “I’d love to do more acting. I always have been dabbling, but it would be great to do something more substantial, and amazing to do it with him, because obviously I trust him. So fingers crossed that it works out, but it would have to be something really special,” she says with a smile. “Because if we’re doing it together, it can’t be shit.”

This content is imported from youTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

All joking aside, the creative and romantic partnership they share was one of the main inspirations behind You & I. “I’ve always been a romantic and a dreamer—maybe it’s because I’ve seen my parents in love for over 25 years—so I was ready to grab and hold onto that moment where I fell in love,” she says of the album’s overall theme. “But not every song is about love with a specific partner. It’s also about friendships and self-reflection and loving myself again.”

And of course it’s not just a love fest. We are talking about Rita Ora, who has been making club-ready hits for a little over a decade. You & I’s reimagining of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” will no doubt find its way onto the dance floor this summer, and “That Girl,” with its “Party all the Time” refrain recalls Eddie Murphy’s ’80s smash. Of the latter, she admits with a laugh that “everyone still knows me as someone who likes to have a good time. I’m a good party partner, and I wanted to embrace that character because it’s never gonna die.”

Read on for more about the songs that have made Ora the performer, party partner, and person she is today.

MY FIRST ALBUM:

Spice by the Spice Girls. Growing up in London, that was all we were allowed to listen to [laughs]. It was my first album and my first concert. They were so important for us. Every girl felt like they could be a Spice Girl, and I jumped around between them. In my mind, I was Baby Spice, but I wasn’t as nice as Baby Spice so I thought maybe I was Scary Spice or Ginger, because she was super curvy. But I also was the tomboy of my class and played football and volleyball, so maybe I was Sporty Spice.”

SONG THAT DEFINES MY YOUTH:

“‘Praise You’ by Fatboy Slim. And I’m not just saying that because he’s featured on my song. It came out when I was eight, but it was still being played in the clubs in my teens. It made me fall in love with dance music. I’d close my eyes and get sweaty and not care what I looked like.”

This content is imported from youTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

SONG THAT DEFINES MY EARLY ADULTHOOD:

“I fell in love with Lana Del Rey again while working on this album. She’s one of the best songwriters of all time in my opinion. I was just listening to Did You Know There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, and there are so many good songs—‘Fishtail’ and ‘Peppers’ are fantastic, but I’m going to go with ‘Fingertips.’ Though, of course, Born to Die is my favorite album of hers. I’m English, but she really made me love America, and that album made me want to be from L.A. She’s so graceful but also badass.”

SONG THAT ALWAYS MAKES ME CRY:

“Bonnie Raitt’s ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me.’ I remember being at Glastonbury and listening to it in my tent. That song really gets to me. George Michael did a great cover of it, too.”

SONG THAT MAKES ME DANCE:

“‘PYT’ by Michael Jackson. It’s a perfect pop song.”

SONG THAT’S GOTTEN YOU THROUGH THE PAST THREE YEARS:

“‘Thinking Bout You’ by Frank Ocean. Or ‘Nights,’ or ‘Novacaine.’ I mean, any of his songs, really. He is amazing.”

FAVORITE MUSIC VIDEO OF ALL TIME:

“‘Dangerous’ by Busta Rhymes.” He had some of the best videos—and that one really captures the vibe back then, with that fisheye lens.

SONG THAT REMINDS ME OF THE EARLY DAYS WITH TAIKA:

“Aw. Honestly, it would be a lot of Bruce Springsteen. Probably ‘Atlantic City.’ It’s such a romantic song and feels so, like, helpless, like you’re baring it all. And we just love Bruce’s songwriting. After a couple of drinks, that would be our sing-along song.”

FAVORITE SONG I’VE RECORDED:

“My wedding song, ‘You & I,’ which I wrote the day after I got married. I was really hungover. But you know how with hangovers, you’re either like dead and vomiting every second, or you’re just like, ‘I don’t give a fuck,’ and you get this weird energy. So there was no filter, and the words were just vomiting out. It really worked, and it feels really special. It’s on the new album.

This content is imported from youTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

ESTABLISHED MUSICIAN I MOST ADMIRE:

“Tina Turner. Her story is just amazing and crazy and inspiring, and we have the same birthday.”

NEW ARTIST I HAVE MY EYE ON:

“I would say Raye. She’s a British artist, and she’s like my little sister. I’m really proud of her and going to stan her forever.”

This content is imported from Third party. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Headshot of Melissa Giannini

More articles

Latest article