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Album Review: ORA – Rita Ora

Since its release late last month, Rita Ora’s debut album ‘ORA’ managed to grab a number one chart position in the UK Albums Chart. Not too shabby for the Roc Nation star who, just a few years ago, was auditioning to represent the United Kingdom at Eurovision.

Sadly, it seems that hype and publicity, rather than music, has put paid to her meteoric rise. It’s no secret that after being seen at the Eurovision auditions she was promptly signed by Jay-Z to his Roc Nation label, but since then Miss Ora has done little. Over two years the production company have crafted her into a pop-star behind the scenes, getting songs penned and produced by the best in the business. It’s resulted in great, energetic pop tunes, but sadly not much in the way of any material value.

The references and comparisons with Rihanna have plagued the 21-year-old British singer ever since she launched onto the UK music scene earlier this year with ‘R.I.P’. It’s easy to understand why when she has been fashioned as a younger, British version of the ‘Love The Way You Lie’ singer. ‘R.I.P’ was originally written as a single for Rihanna, until it was handed to Rita Ora to sing instead.

The comparisons and the label’s influence have meant that while the album is enjoyable to listen to and certainly on the playlist for party tunes, it lacks the substance, panache and identity that you would hope would shine through on a debut outing. Due to meddling and profit-seeking, Miss Ora fails to leave a distinct personality on the album. Her collaborators list features massive names like will.i.am, Tinie Tempah and J. Cole, and are their styles and personality are far more prevalent than Rita’s.  ORA could easily be a compilation album from the largest names in hip-hop, linked by the fact that Rita Ora sings on each track, rather than an album around her music.

You could argue that as a debut album, Rita Ora is more finding a stable base to build upon, and you’d be well within your rights to say it. The album certainly isn’t unlikeable and with 3 number one singles in 2012 (which no other artist or band has achieved) the future looks bright.

The slower, ballad tracks like ‘Love & War’ and ‘Hello, Hi, Goodbye’ show a far more R&B side to her talents than her more ‘poppy’ tracks. It’s led some to speculate that it’s probably Beyonce more than Rihanna that should be watching her crown.

Overall, the album is likeable and energetic, but doesn’t really go deeper than a pop production. However, it’s solid groundwork for Rita Ora to move forward and define a real personality for herself. We’ll have to hope that her next work announces to the world who this artist truly is.

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