Bebe Rexha Is Throwing a ’70s Eurodance Party With Guests Dolly Parton, Snoop Dogg
The 1970s — synonymous with great female singer-songwriters and the precursor to Eurodance – represent everything Bebe Rexha had envisioned herself proclaiming to the world with her third and self-titled studio album that arrives today via Warner Records.
“It’s about feeling empowered even while feeling uncertain — of change, growing up, self-reflecting,” Rexha tells Variety. “I’ve always been open in my lyrics — and with life in general — when it comes to talking about what I’ve been through…this album is about expression and tells a story about having a change of heart.”
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Add a healthy dose of dance-pop melodies, guest verses from Dolly Parton and a song with Snoop Dogg about getting “higher than a satellite,” and you’ve got “Bebe” — a 12-song set that paints a vibrant tribute to the glitter of the ’70s.
The follow-up to 2021’s “Better Mistakes,” “Bebe” came attached to Rexha’s first tour announcement in six years (she last hit cities across the U.S., Europe and Asia in 2017 for her first headlining tour).
“There’s nothing like playing songs live — especially songs like these,” she says, adding that the pumping grooves of “I’m Not High, I’m In Love” would make for a great tour opener. “When you’re there and you’re feeling the energy that radiates off the fans, it’s a special kind of connection … and because it’s been six years, I feel like that’s going to be so important for me and my fan base.”
The setlist is looking to be a career-spanning take of her most beloved hits, catering to her day-one fans who lovingly call themselves the Rexhars. “There’s going to be a lot of fun segments… a lot of like older music from my old EPs like ‘All Your Fault: Pt. 1’ and ‘Expectations.’ There’s going to be medleys and moments dedicated to bringing the fans back to build up to the new stuff,” she says.
That “new stuff” will likely include floor-fillers like “Blue Moon” and “Call on Me,” and of course, “I’m Good (Blue)” — the already-award-winning track that sits at the heart of the record. To grasp the full scope of the album’s timeline, you’d have to know how long of a shelf-life “I’m Good (Blue)” truly had. As an unreleased single, the track — a flip of Eiffel 65’s 1998 smash “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” — racked up millions of views on YouTube where several of Rexha’s fans regularly upload numerous of her unreleased songs. Audiences practically demanded for the song to be officially released just as Rexha, producer Ido Zmishlany (Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello, Demi Lovato) and singer-songwriter Sarah Solovay had their heads and hearts wrapped up in crafting a ’70s-inspired set.
When the song was officially released as a single in August, it topped the charts in more than a dozen countries including the U.K., Australia, and Canada, and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“The song was such a big moment, and it needed to be on the album but we needed to see where it would fit within the music that had more of a 70s flavor,” she says. “‘I’m Good (Blue)’ is followed by ‘Call on Me’ on the track list for that reason.”
“Call on Me” is produced by Burns (Lady Gaga, Ava Max), who is behind the song’s addictive dance hook. He also produced Rexha’s first solo dance hit, “Sacrifice,” off her last album. “We were both aiming for like Stevie Nicks ‘Edge of Seventeen’ in the verses but tied together with that classic dance hook. It kind of put a bow on the whole project.”
Maintaining ownership of her femininity and identity as an artist, “Bebe” has scattered moments of powerful and honest lyricism. In “I Am,” a track inspired by the plight of anti-abortion legislation, Rexha chants about being a woman, a rebel and most importantly: being enough. “No matter what, I’m going to do whatever the fuck I’m feeling – especially when it comes to songwriting. I just love to write,” she says.
“I lie awake inside a dream and I run away from me / the seasons change right under my feet,” Rexha sings in “Seasons,” as Parton’s layered harmonies fill the sonic space. “I was in the studio, and we recorded the guitar and my vocals at the same time and didn’t edit much — just sang through a straight take. Then Dolly added her vocals and the result was just perfect.”
Parton’s participation had long been a dream for Rexha who grew up with the country icon’s songs on repeat at the hands of her grandmother. Still, the road to winning over a feature from Parton wasn’t easy as she had previously “declined nicely” to Rexha’s collaboration requests.
“She wrote me a thoughtful, handwritten note once just to say she was grateful for the request but the song I had submitted was about heaven and hell, and well, she didn’t have any interest in singing about hell that way,” she explains. “I understood completely, and the gesture was so thoughtful. I knew one day there would be a perfect song for us to share and ‘Seasons’ was it. She sent me her verse and her harmonies, and we got to film this really fun video together.”
The music video for “Seasons” was shot in Parton’s Nashville compound, and was a “laugh-fest,” as Rexha describes. “Dolly is so funny — one of the funniest people I’ve met. I was in awe of her, wowed by her six-inch heels. I just [have] such strong admiration for her, not just as an artist, but as a songwriter. I started my career as a songwriter and would look up to Dolly because she’s able to write songs for other people, while also having success for herself.”
These days, Rexha has been hard at work alongside a robust group of DJs – “I’ve never stopped writing,” she says, “I’ve already started writing again for like the new project and I’ve definitely been very inspired by EDM music. I love it.”
She’s set to debut a collaboration PNAU and Ozuna called “Stars” in May, followed by the official release of “If Only I,” a single she previewed during her guest slot with DJ duo Two Friends at Coachella. In the meantime, she’s working on drumming up the deluxe issue of “Bebe,” which will see the inclusion of an unreleased track titled “Now You Don’t Exist.”
“Fans kept asking for it and they tell me that they think I’m crazy for leaving it out of the main album,” she says. “They’re very opinionated — which I love… If I post a snippet of something and they want it, they’re going to keep writing to me until they get it. I love the dynamic we have… seeing how involved they are and how passionate they are about my music means everything.”
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