Queen of the Clouds

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Queen of the Clouds
Tove Lo - Queen of the Clouds.png
Studio album by Tove Lo
Released 24 September 2014 (2014-09-24)
Recorded Early 2013 – Spring 2014
Studio
Genre Electropop[1]
Length 51:17
Label Island
Producer
Tove Lo chronology
Truth Serum
(2014)Truth Serum2014
Queen of the Clouds
(2014)
Lady Wood
(2016)Lady Wood2016
Singles from Queen of the Clouds
  1. "Habits (Stay High)"
    Released: 6 December 2013
  2. "Talking Body"
    Released: 13 January 2015
  3. "Timebomb"
    Released: 12 August 2015
  4. "Moments"
    Released: 27 October 2015

Queen of the Clouds is the debut studio album by Swedish singer Tove Lo. It was released on 24 September 2014 by Island Records. The album follows her first extended play Truth Serum (2014) and includes the successful singles "Habits (Stay High)" and "Talking Body". Lo worked with several writers and producers such as The Struts, Klas Åhlund, Alexander Kronlund, Alx Reuterskiöld, and Captain Cuts. Lyrically, the album's themes center on the stages of a relationship, including passion, love and break-ups.

The album garnered generally positive reviews from music critics who praised its production and lyrical content. On 25 September 2015, a Blueprint edition of the album was announced, including tracks from Truth Serum, a new version of "Moments", as well as the song "Not Made for This World" originally a Spotify only bonus track, and an explicit version of the song "Scream My Name" from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.

Thematic background and development[edit]

Queen of the Clouds is the follow-up to Lo's debut extended play Truth Serum. The album is divided into three sections: "The Sex", "The Love" and "The Pain". Similar to theme of a poisoned relationship in Truth Serum, the album centers on a breakup and provides a complete story of her romantic struggles. She described her music as like a therapist where she could sing about things she would not normally dare to speak about.[2] The title for the album came from her song "Not on Drugs" and describes her new lifestyle touring the world after the success of her first EP. Lo said that it represented the feeling of "floating on top of the world" and that it was important that the album title represented her.[3]

Composition[edit]

Heavily influenced by electropop musical styles, Queen of the Clouds is predominantly a concept album which divides the record into three sections: "The Sex", "The Love" and "The Pain".[2][4] Similar to the theme of poisoned relationships explored on Lo's debut extended play, Truth Serum (2014), the album centers on a breakup and provides a complete narration of her romantic struggles. She described her music as "like a therapist" where Lo could sing about things she would not normally feel comfortable speaking about.[2] Queen of the Clouds blends multiple styles of music into a "monogenre" sound, containing heavy influences of EDM, hip hop, dance-pop, new wave, rock, and R&B, combining them into a "seamless compendium".[4]

The musical styles explored on "The Sex" section of Queen of the Clouds have drawn comparisons to the works of early Madonna (pictured).[5]

The first section, "The Sex", opens the record with four songs about the "lecherous and reckless" beginning of a relationship, and are composed in a "infectious and tongue-in-cheek stampede of uptempo pop."[6] Album opener, "My Gun", has been described as an urban-influenced pop song textured with elements of dancehall. It begins with a "mournful"-sounding choir before building to an upbeat pop groove. Lo’s vocals are low and seductive, before gliding into her higher range. The track explores the "flirty" stage before delving into more sexual themes, found later on "Talking Body", and has been compared to the works of Rihanna.[7] Lyrically, Lo compares her lover to "her gun" and sings of feeling a release of pleasure: "Boy, if you're gonna shoot me down/Do it gently".[6] The next track, "Like Em' Young", is driven by a tribal-influenced rhythm "coated" with a "parade" of dub-bass. Its lyrics are satirical in nature, as she criticizes other women for judging her taste in younger men: "Hey girl, why you judging me/When your, your guy is turning 53?/ I don't know what really gets you more/Is it that my guy's gonna live out yours?"[6] "Talking Body" is a heavily sexual song described as "salivating with carnal lust", and according to Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe, evokes "the rush of early Madonna."[5] Lyrically, the verses see Lo in a state of idée fixe towards her partner, as she finds herself revolving her life around him. The chorus is musically armed with heavy propulsion combined with rising, subdued synths and sees her "objectifying" his model physique. Rounding out the first section is "Timebomb", a frantic electronic dance piano ballad hybrid described as a "sonic bombardment" of "euphoric" chords, drums, and psychedelic synths, and features an "explosive" chorus containing crashing cymbals and pounding bass. Lo's vocals in the track are sung out of time to the beat, rushing her lyrics into a single phrase.[6][7]

The second section, "The Love", has been described as "a thunderous yearning through gigantic mid tempo, electronic balladry".[6] It opens with the "volcanic" ballad "Moments", which boasts atmospherics and influences of "trippy" samba. Lyrically, it sees Lo confessing her flaws before declaring "On good days, I am charming as fuck!".[6] "The Way That I Am" is a dubstep song filled with "pain and passion" as Lo sings in a soulful rasp and lyrically cries out to her partner to love her as she is; including flaws.[6] "Got Love" is one of the albums "pure" pop moments, and contains an unwaveringly positive attitude. Lyrically, she rejoices exultant feelings of first falling in love as she sings "Good enough to make the ocean look like it's a pond/Good enough to turn the valleys into mountain tops", and discusses the theme of immortality "We live like legends now, know that would never die/Oh, we Got Love".[6] Closing out the section is the power pop song "Not on Drugs". Primarily a guitar-driven song that explores the topic of a feeling of love so bewildering and overpowering that it affects your behavior, as if you were on drugs.[6]

The final section is "The Pain" which explores the difficulty piecing together one's life after the destruction and demise of a relationship through "distraught" lyricism and melancholic pop. The section opens with the "thunderous" electropop power-ballad "Thousand Miles", which lyrically depicts Lo's obsession with reuniting with her lost love at all costs, even if it means running "a thousand miles".[6] Musically, the mid-tempo track tells a story of a girl "struggling to forget a rocky relationship with an ex," and is sonically amped up by the singer’s "emotionally distraught" vocals and "thundering" drum rhythms.[8] The following song, "Habits (Stay High)" sees her emotionally unravel even more, as she talks about self-medicating by smoking marijuana to cope to live without her lover. It's "snappy" verses are filled with "quietly distinct, often strange imagery", including Lo eating her dinner in the bathtub, getting drunken munchies, and seducing dads on the playground.[9] Musically, it is a Purity Ring-inspired song, and creates a calming atmosphere compared to that of morphine.[6] "This Time Around" is a dark Charli XCX-inspired track which reflects on the lessons learned from a heartbreak. Lo's vocal performance on the song has been described as particularly yearning and broken.[6] The final song of the section and album is "Run on Love", an "easy-going" reworked nu-disco dance collaboration with EDM producer Lucas Nord. Lyrically, Lo sings of picking up her heart and choosing to no longer be a victim by living in the moment enjoy time with her lover before it runs out.[5][6]

Release and promotion[edit]

Lo announced the release of Queen of the Clouds in an interview with Rolling Stone on 19 August 2014.[10] Shortly after, on 9 September 2014, the album was made available to pre-order online through iTunes.[11] On 16 September 2014, the album tracks "Moments", "Timebomb" and "Thousand Miles" were also made available to download alongside the iTunes pre-order.[12] On 24 September 2014, Lo performed "Habits" on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote her album.[13]

Singles[edit]

The lead single, "Habits (Stay High)", was originally released as "Habits" on 25 March 2013 prior to the release of Truth Serum in March 2014. It was later re-released as "Habits (Stay High)" on 6 December 2013. "Habits (Stay High)" peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 2014.[14] A remix of "Habits" by record production duo Hippie Sabotage, alternatively titled "Stay High", was released on 3 March 2014 and peaked at number 13 on the Swedish Singles Chart.[15] It performed even more successfully elsewhere, peaking within the top 10 of the charts in Norway, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. .

"Not on Drugs" was originally revealed as the album's second single with its lyric video of the premiering in June 2014[16] and its music video premiering in August of the same year,[17] but a different single, "Talking Body", was chosen to replace it, impacting pop radio on 20 January 2015.[18] "Talking Body" has since peaked at number 12 on the Hot 100 as of 20 May 2015.

On May 23, 2015 at the Boston Calling Music Festival, Tove Lo announced that "Timebomb" will serve as the third single.[19] It was digitally released on 12 August 2015.[20] However, Republic Records, which handles Lo's American radio promotions, opted not to push "Timebomb" to radio. Therefore, "Moments" impacted pop radio on October 13, 2015,[21] as the fourth single from the album.[22]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[23]
Cuepoint (3-star Honorable Mention)[24]
The Daily Telegraph 3/5 stars[25]
Digital Spy 3/5 stars[26]
Gaffa (SWE) 3/6 stars[27]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[28]
The Irish Times 4/5 stars[29]
The Observer 4/5 stars[30]
Pitchfork Media 7.2/10[9]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[31]

Upon release, Queen of the Clouds received positive reviews from music critics. According to Metacritic, the album received an average score of 73/100 based on 4 reviews.[32] Sam Lansky from TIME praised the lyrical content of the album, stating that "the tracks all have a satisfying stomp and crash, but it’s her lyrics that shine brightest, trading in pop clichés but flipping them in the same breath." He described the hooks of the tracks as commercial enough to give Lo a "fighting chance at stateside stardom".[1] Carrie Battan from Pitchfork gave the album a 7.2 out of 10 and described her music as "bruised, brightly arranged pop songs that feel grand but not excessive". She also noted that her "disarming honesty" and "well-phrased lyrics" are what sticks to the brain.[9] Evan Ross from andPOP gave the album 3.5 out of 5 stars described Queen of the Clouds as "a really enjoyable album that pretty accurately describes what it’s like to be young and in love" and particularly liked that the album was an entire concept instead of randomly thrown in tracks. He praised the production and enjoyable filler songs. He also noted that Lo's "EDM-inspired album" had more substance than other similar albums.[33] Maxie Molotov-Smith from Fortitude Magazine gave the album 4.5 out of 5 stars, praising the "stark heart-on-sleeve" honesty in Lo's lyrics and described the music as "expertly-crafted electronic pop music" with infectious hooks.[34]

Jon O'Brien from Music Is My Oxygen gave the album 4 out of 5 stars and praised Lo's standing out from the crowd, describing her album as a "refreshingly raw debut which casts Tove Lo as pop’s premier hot mess".[35] Kathy Iandoli from Idolator gave the album 3.5 out of 5 and praised the honesty of the lyrics and noted that Lo "has become masterfully adept at jamming thoughtful words into dancey songs through her past songwriting, but she takes it a step further with Queen Of The Clouds".[36] A reviewer from PressPLAY gave the album a 4 out of 5 and praised the album's lyrical content and that Lo "goes into the dark places that modern pop tends to avoid", although they also wrote that there was a "slight need for variety and a tighter edit of the tracklist". The critic also described Lo as having a "frantic, drunken energy [...] that keeps you hooked on her songs unlike any of her peers"[37]

Commercial performance[edit]

In Lo's native Sweden, Queen of the Clouds debuted at number six on the Sverigetopplistan charts. In the United States, the album entered the Billboard 200 at number 14 with first-week sales of 19,000 copies.[38] As of August 2016, Queen of the Clouds had sold 190,000 copies in the US.[39] The album also peaked within the top 50 in Australia, Finland, New Zealand and Norway.

Track listing[edit]

Queen of the Clouds — Standard version
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "The Sex (Intro)" Tove Lo   0:06
2. "My Gun"
  • Lo
  • Daniel Ledinsky
  • Jakob Jerlström
  • Ludvig Söderberg
  • The Struts
  • Ledinsky[a]
3:36
3. "Like Em Young"
  • Lo
  • Jerlström
  • Söderberg
The Struts 3:39
4. "Talking Body"
  • Lo
  • Jerlström
  • Söderberg
3:58
5. "Timebomb" Åhlund 3:34
6. "The Love (Interlude)" Lo   0:05
7. "Moments" Lo Mattman & Robin 3:22
8. "The Way That I Am"
  • Lo
  • Ali Payami
Payami 3:07
9. "Got Love"
  • Lo
  • Alx Reuterskiöld
  • Jerlström
  • Söderberg
The Struts 3:48
10. "Not on Drugs"
  • Lo
  • Reuterskiöld
  • Söderberg
  • Jerlström
  • The Struts
  • Reuterskiöld[b]
3:02
11. "The Pain (Interlude)" Lo   0:05
12. "Thousand Miles"
  • Lo
  • Mike "Scribz" Riley
  • Scribz Riley
  • The Struts
3:34
13. "Habits (Stay High)"
  • Lo
  • Söderberg
  • Jerlström
The Struts 3:29
14. "This Time Around"
  • Lo
  • Nate Campany
  • Kyle Shearer
Shearer 4:04
15. "Run On Love" (Lucas Nord featuring Tove Lo) (QOTC Edit)
  • Lucas Nordqvist
  • Lo
Nord 4:00
16. "Love Ballad" (Bonus track)
  • Lo
  • Söderberg
  • Jerlström
The Struts 3:30
17. "Habits (Stay High) (Hippie Sabotage Remix)" (Bonus track)
  • Lo
  • Jerlström
  • Söderberg
  • The Struts
  • Hippie Sabotage[a][c]
4:18
Total length: 51:17
Notes
  • ^a signifies an additional producer.
  • ^b signifies a co-producer.
  • ^c signifies a remixer.

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Queen of the Clouds.[41]

  • Tove Lo – vocals (tracks 2–5, 7–10, 12–17); backing vocals (track 2); cover design, hand lettering titles
  • Daniel Åberg – art direction, cover design, design
  • Klas Åhlund – instruments, production, programming (track 5)
  • Tony Ciulla – management
  • Björn Engelmann – mastering
  • Serban Ghenea – mixing (track 4)
  • Laura Haber – management
  • John Hanes – engineering for mix (track 4)
  • Peter Hart – A&R
  • Johannes Helje – cover design, photo editing, photography
  • Hippie Sabotage – additional production, remix (track 17)
  • Michael Illbert – mixing (track 5)
  • Daniel Ledinsky – additional production, backing vocals, strings (track 2)
  • Spyke Lee – assistant engineering (track 2)
  • Robert Marvin – additional engineering (track 14)
  • Mattman & Robin – all instruments, production, programming (track 7)
  • Lucas Nord – mixing, production (track 15)
  • Lars Norgren – mixing (tracks 2, 3, 7–10, 12–14)
  • David Nyström – piano (track 5)
  • Ali Payami – all instruments, production, programming (track 8)
  • Julius Petersson – A&R
  • Alx Reuterskiöld – co-production, keyboards (track 10)
  • Scribz Riley – all instruments, production, programming (track 12)
  • Filip Runesson – strings (tracks 9, 13)
  • Jeffrey Saurer – musical arrangement (track 17)
  • Kevin Saurer – musical arrangement (track 17)
  • Andy Selby – vocal editing (track 14)
  • Kyle Shearer – all instruments, production (track 14)
  • Shellback – additional programming, keyboards, production (track 4)
  • The Struts – bass, engineering (track 2); production, programming (tracks 2, 3, 9, 10, 12, 13); guitar, keyboards (tracks 2, 10); all instruments (tracks 3, 9, 12); all keyboards (track 13)
  • Clara Tägtström – cover design
  • Oskar Wettergren – hand lettering titles

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[62] Platinum 40,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[63] Gold 30,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[64] Platinum 20,000*
Sweden (GLF)[65] Platinum 40,000^
United States (RIAA)[66] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Edition
Australia[67] 24 September 2014
  • Standard
  • deluxe
Norway[68]
Sweden[69]
Canada[70] 30 September 2014
United States[71]
Italy[72] 11 November 2014
United Kingdom[73][74] 11 May 2015
25 September 2015 CD Blueprint
Canada[75] 2 October 2015
  • CD
  • digital download
United States[76]
Australia[77] 30 October 2015
Sweden[78]
United Kingdom[79]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c Lipshutz, Jason (22 September 2014). "Tove Lo Falls Into Fame: On 'Habits,' Opening for Katy Perry & Using Music as Therapy". Billboard. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
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