Dua Lipa is an artist who is part of the US pop conversation right now, but more on its periphery rather than its center. While her career has taken off in the UK and Europe, her ascendancy in the US has been more of a slow climb (there is even a whole Buzzfeed article from an upset American staff writer about how America needs to start appreciating her).
The discrepancy between her success here in the US and abroad is clear on the charts. Her debut album Dua Lipa peaked at number 5 in the UK, and made the top 20 in another 12 countries. However it only reached number 57 on the Billboard 200 stateside. She is currently the number 6 artist in the world on Spotify and has the number 3 song on its “Global Top 50” chart, but you wouldn’t think that given that the same song sits at number 23 on the US “Top 50” chart.
That song is “New Rules,” which has become a post-break-up anthem with its three tenets of what not to do with an ex. However, it is the song’s music video that has truly attracted the attention of US pop culture, with its lush visuals portraying sisterhood and empowerment (as well as a really aesthetically pleasing hotel in Miami). The video hit 700 million views on YouTube in under 5 months, and, finally, after 16 weeks on the chart, the song has cracked the top 20 of Billboard’s Hot 100. You would think that such a successful song would have to be the lead single off her eponymous debut album, but that’s not the case. It’s actually the sixth single off the album, which goes to show that you should never write off any song as a potential hit.
A short documentary by the FADER on YouTube details the rise of Dua. She is a Londoner, but of Albanian descent and her mother and father (a musician) are from Kosovo. She lived there for a portion of her childhood, but persuaded her parents to let her move back to London at 15 to pursue music. She started posting covers on YouTube and contacting people in the industry. Eventually “Hotter Than Hell”– a fiery, confident, and thumping song– caught the attention of record labels and she went on to sign her deal.
Dua’s distinctive lower register is noticeable from the first line in “New Rules” and it is something that distinguishes her from others in the genre. She has the potential to be another princess of pop here the in states and the vocals to back it all up.
However if you think that Top 40 pop is all she has to offer, think again. Her duet “Lost in Your Light” with Miguel is an upbeat yet sultry jam that showcases her deep and soulful voice, while her cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Tears Dry on Their Own” with Gallant on his “In the Room” series reveals a jazzy, rich sound that does the song justice.
A testament to the musicality and talent of Dua is the beauty of the stripped down versions of her songs. She told The FADER about her songs: “…If you take away all the production it’s just the bones of a proper song, it can be just on piano and it will sound exactly the same and I feel like it’s really about authenticity.” I am excited to see what arrangements she has in store for each song during the tour.
Dua just finished supporting Coldplay on the Latin America leg of their stadium tour, before which she had opened for Bruno Mars’ tour in the US in September and completed the first leg of her own tour in Europe in October. Now she is bringing her cleverly named The Self-Titled Tour to Silver Spring on Tuesday, November 28th at the Fillmore with opener Marteen. This is her second time headlining in the Washington area, after playing the Rock and Roll Hotel earlier this year.
“New Rules,” may be her first US hit, but I wouldn’t count her as a one-hit-wonder here. Watch out as she looks to expand her US fan base on this tour, and I’m sure she’ll be back “hotter than hell” for album number two.
The show is technically sold-out, but you can get verified resale tickets through LiveNation here.