It’s a time of transition for many of our most established Pop Queens.
Lady Gaga‘s turning into Liza Minelli (which, if #LG5 sounds anything like Results, it’ll be the greatest album of 2016), Rihanna‘s telling her pop career to phuck off with her $25 million indie mixtape ANTi, Taylor Swift will see you all in court, Katy Perry is at the dentist or something, Beyoncé‘s slaying all day as pop culture’s premiere disruptor and Red Lobster enthusiast, Miley‘s doing God only knows what on Instagram, Madonna‘s singing never-before-sung in concert songs in Asia, and Britney‘s remixing, reimagining and still iconic-ing her Vegas residency while sippin’ on some motherfucking tea.
As a result, there’s some downtime for up-and-comers to have their come up — and Dua Lipa might just be our next great Pop Star To Believe In.
Granted, the London-bred Albanian 20-year-old singer-songwriter already has lots of support going into the New Year: She was longlisted on the highly coveted BBC Sound of 2016 poll, and became a certifiable #blogbuzzdarling by the end of last year. (I’m only just now adding to the buzzing, yes. I miss being able to update more frequently more than you could even imagine…but anyway.)
Dua got it right straight out of the gate late last summer with her debut single “New Love,” produced by Emile Haynie (of Lana Del Rey fame, among many others), and Miike Snow‘s Andrew Wyatt.
The stomping, shimmering production doesn’t really feel like the stuff of any one act, but her husky vocal styling feels familiar — something that sits nicely between Jessie Ware, Lana Del Rey, Loreen and Amy Winehouse. (That cut-and-splice home video visual aesthetic, of course, is all sorts of LDR.)
She one-upped herself with “Be The One” in December, produced by London’s Digital Farm Animals. That shimmery, hand-clappy and HAIM-y chorus is immediate all at once, and the lyrics — straightforward and repetitive — are convincing in all their insistence. “I could be the one / Be the one / Be the one…” She could, she could.
This week, to quote a certain Living Legend, she did it again.
“Last Dance,” Lipa’s latest (out March 25), produced by Stephen Kozmeniuk (Koz) and written alongside Talay Riley, feels fresh too, but in a different way — the dark, brooding verses and soaring choruses of Loreen or Tove Lo vaguely come to mind. “We were built to last, we were built like that / Baby take my hand, tighten this romance,” she mightily declares before diving into finger-snaps and a cool, “We Found Love”-lite pulsations. Hey, Lord knows I love a good-us-against-the-world anthem.
Also, she just appeared on BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge at the end of January, where she performed “Be The One” and covered The Weeknd in a room with her name behind her in giant bright neon letters. (If that set-up isn’t the stuff of a pop star in the making, I don’t know what is.)
It’s hard to say where Dua fits within the pop spectrum, but then, that’s the reason she’s exciting: Better not to know quite what to do with her yet than to have her narrative fit into a pre-written blog post.
Let’s see where this new love takes us.