“I was completely covered in egg. It went into places I can’t even fucking say in this interview!” Rita Ora exclaims down the phone during corona-induced self-isolation. We’re talking half an hour after the release of her music video for new single ‘How To Be Lonely’, which features a scene in which Rita writhes atop hundreds of eggs. “I had to Google it to see if it was good for you,” she says. “Apparently it is. It was nice. It was like a skin treatment!”
The cinematic, less-than-subtle video deals in metaphors: Rita falls from cloud nine, gets bugged by ants crawling on her face and walks (well, rolls) on egg shells. The song was largely written by man-of-the-moment Lewis Capaldi (Ora the added finishing touches), no stranger himself to having a laugh. And no wonder Rita’s in the mood for mucking about: she started 2020 as a panellist on cult game show The Masked Singer, in which a celebrity croons away under the guise of a daft costume, with the audience left to guess who they are. Scissor Sisters‘ Jake Shears appeared as a unicorn belting out ‘Babooshka’.
Anyway, NME caught up with Ora to talk releasing the new video from isolation, her upcoming third album and the chaos of being a judge on that game show.
Hey Rita! How does it feel drop a new song from self-isolation?
“You’re literally the first person I’ve spoken to since the video’s come out! I’m in a very confused, weird place. I’m excited, but at the same time there are just so many other things to worry about. But it’s is amazing for people to watch this and to be a part of it.”
Tell us about ‘How To Be Lonely’…
“It’s about the moment where you’re like, ‘I am breaking the mould. I’m OK with being on my own. I don’t have a desire to fine happiness through other people’. It’s something that people don’t really speak of and it just touched me. I think it’s a bit of break-up song, too, because I was also going through a break-up. For some reason people are very interested in my personal life so I just thought, ‘Might as well make the most of it and sing about it!'”
How’s album three coming on?
“People have been coming to studio sessions from all over the world. I’ve been working on this now for the past two year on and off. I have plans for this third album to be something I’ve never done before and I really want to experiment and come face-to-face with a bit of a bit of a challenge. So there are writers I’ve never worked with before and live instrumentation.”
You signed your first deal at 18. How’s the industry changed since then?
“When I started it was deals, and then development deals, and then you wait to see what happens. The difference now is that people don’t have the patience to wait to see what happens because of the internet and the streaming. Everything moves so fast that if you don’t catch the wave, then you sort of missed a chance. It’s definitely more pressure. That’s the reality because you have people putting out songs in their living rooms in the middle of nowhere. It’s more independent than it used to be.”
You stood up for Bebe Rexha when she spoke out against ageism in the music industry. Is that an issue close to your heart?
“The problem is that insecurity gets put onto you through comments that you read over the years. You start to think, ‘I’m not as young as I used to be. I’m not the fresh girl on the scene I once was’. I can proudly say, ‘Yeah – I use my looks because I’m very comfortable in my skin and I like my body’, but that gives people an opportunity to say: ‘Oh, well – you’re getting older’. I stand up for these girls because age really doesn’t matter – J. Lo had her first hit in her thirties. And men don’t get asked how old they are all the time!”
You were a judge on The Masked Singer, which broke the internet. Did its success take you by surprise?
“I had no idea [it would get so big]. I was in America when The Masked Singer was huge. I was watching it on TV thinking: ‘This is the most bonkers show I’ve ever seen.” When they asked to me to do it, I said yes because I’ve done all the competition shows [The Voice UK, The X Factor] where you’re in charge of somebody’s destiny and giving them an opportunity to change their lives, whereas The Masked Singer is just fun and games. I would look at it on TV and think, ‘I can’t believe I’m judging an octopus!’.”
– Rita Ora’s new single ‘How To Be Lonely’ is out now.