On her enigmatic new single “Houdini,” Dua Lipa is a slippery illusionist who is hard to catch and quick to leave. It’s reflective of her approach to the latest era of her career as she preps the release of her third studio album, which marks a departure from the disco dream that defined 2020’s Future Nostalgia. But before Lipa performed her grand vanishing act and disappeared into her new psychedelic soundscape, Barbie the Album executive producer Mark Ronson caught her at just the right moment.
Ronson connected with Lipa for the ambitious Barbie soundtrack via Instagram DMs, pitching her on crafting one of the film’s two most pivotal musical numbers. “These [songs] have to be the ones that paint the picture of the movie,” he told her, according to the Los Angeles Times. And the film’s director and co-writer, Greta Gerwig, had one particular non-negotiable: the song needed to be a disco record.
“I was like, ‘Oh, fuck, I’m moving away from [disco] for my new album,’” Lipa remembered thinking. “I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I’ve got one more in me.’”
From that, “Dance the Night” was born, serving as the soundtrack to Barbie’s existential spiral about whether the other Barbies have also been thinking about dying lately. “I’m so used to going into the studio and talking about myself and my feelings and what’s happening in my life,” Lipa added. “Trying to embody a character that’s [in] somebody else’s world, how do I go in and tell that story? [This was] an assignment, which I hadn’t really done before.”
“Dance the Night” is up for Song of the Year at the 2024 Grammy Awards. The category is presented to songwriters, which include Lipa, Ronson, Carolina Ailin, and Andrew Wyatt. It’s a fitting end to an era that began with the singer keeping the sweaty spirit of the club alive even when everyone was trapped inside at the start of the pandemic.
“The amount of time I’ve spent in the studio, worked with different people, honed in on my craft, and written so many songs, I’ve also come into a place where I feel really confident in who I am and what I want,” Lipa recently told Rolling Stone. “I felt like my voice got stronger because of touring, and there are so many different layers to the way I’ve progressed as an artist. It was very easy for me to not be deviated by all these other incredible artists.”