As far as breakout artists go, Dua Lipa is still relatively new on the scene. Two years after the debut of her self-titled debut solo album, Lipa is preparing to release her sophomore effort. And she’s giving her fans a peek at what to expect with her latest track, “Don’t Start Now.”
Much like Lipa’s previous hit “New Rules,” this disco-tinged song is all about moving on, post-breakup. But this time, rather than doling out sage advice to women in similar situations, she aims her main message at an ex who keeps trying to manipulate her.
And that message is crystal clear: Just don’t.
Many breakup songs focus on the reasons behind a breakup (or at least provide some information about the relationship to give listeners insight into what went wrong). Dua Lipa doesn’t waste time on those petty details. The minute she starts singing, it’s obvious this guy’s already in her rearview mirror: “Did a full 180, crazy/Thinking ’bout the way I was.” And this thought echoes throughout the song: “I’m all good already/So moved on, it’s scary.”
Lipa has no regrets about the end of this relationship: “Did the heartbreak change me? Maybe/But look at where I ended up.” Now, lines like those could be heard as a blasé disregard for what this person used to mean to her. But it wasn’t as if she bounced back immediately: “Though it took some time to survive you/I’m better on the other side.” She makes it very clear that he did hurt her: “Aren’t you the guy who tried to/Hurt me with the word ‘goodbye’?”
Now that Lipa has moved on, she wants him to know it: “I’m not where you left me at all.” But more than that, she warns him against coming back around just to tear her down: “If you don’t wanna see me dancing with somebody/If you wanna believe that anything could stop me/Don’t show up, don’t come out.” The balance of the chorus drives that point home: “Don’t start caring about me now/Walk away, you know how/Don’t start caring about me now.”
In the accompanying music video, Lipa (wearing baggy jeans and a neon-colored, bra-like top) is stalked by her ex through a series of nightclubs. She rolls her eyes at him, has her friend tell him off, attempts to change venues and even hides in a bathroom until she is forced to (quite literally) kick him to the curb.
But even as Lipa repeatedly chants how much better off she is now, she keeps making some potentially unwise choices. She and her friends down champagne while dancing together at a masquerade ball, for instance. And in a dimly lit club, she dances sensually with a new guy (her arms around his neck), while people all around touch her body as they bounce to the beat.
Many have praised Lipa for penning another breakup anthem that female fans everywhere can relate to as they move on, especially if they’re walking away from emotionally abusive relationships like the one we see here. In that sense, “Don’t Start Now” includes some positive messages for listeners.
Still, when empowerment also means walking back into the club environment where she may well have connected with her previous beau, I can’t help but wonder whether she’s really taking her own lessons to heart.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.