English pop singer Dua Lipa showcases a throwback vibe and a knack for catchy pop with soulful grit, much like Sia, Jessie J, or P!nk, and a slyly rebellious air like Charli XCX or Marina & the Diamonds. After a steady rise in the U.K., she broke onto the U.S. charts with a series of collaborations with Sean Paul, Martin Garrix, and Calvin Harris, as well as multi-platinum singles “New Rules” and “IDGAF” from her 2017 debut, Dua Lipa. Still riding the high from her breakthrough, she won 2019 Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Dance Recording for her collaboration with Silk City, “Electricity.” The following year, she hit new highs with her chart-topping, Grammy-winning sophomore album, the club-inspired Future Nostalgia.
Born and raised in London to Kosovar-Albanian parents, Lipa attended the Sylvia Young Theater School (Rita Ora, Amy Winehouse) until the age of 13, when she relocated to Kosovo with her family. However, the move wouldn’t last very long, and she was back in London by age 15, living on her own and pursuing a singing career. Her first demos were released in 2012, attracting the attention of Lana Del Rey’s management team, who signed her and linked her up with Emile Haynie (Lana Del Rey, Bruno Mars). Lipa’s shimmery debut single, “New Love,” was followed by the soulful “Be the One.” Long-listed for the prestigious BBC’s Sound of 2016, she released “Hotter Than Hell” and “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” in 2016, coinciding with a tour throughout the spring and summer. While “Hotter Than Hell” went on to break into the Top 20 in the U.K., in 2017 Lipa earned the distinction of having three simultaneously charting singles in the U.K. Top 15 with “Be the One,” “Scared to Be Lonely” with Martin Garrix, and “No Lie” with Sean Paul.
Dua Lipa, her debut full-length, arrived that summer. In addition to her previously released singles, the album included “Lost in Your Light” (a duet with Miguel) and “Homesick” (with Coldplay’s Chris Martin). Since a handful of singles had already been in international rotation since 2015, the album’s revived international promotional effort focused on the single “New Rules,” which became another multi-platinum hit, not only rising into the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100 but also landing on European and Australian Top Ten lists. Eighth album single “IDGAF” followed in 2018, extending her chart presence. That summer, she teamed with Calvin Harris for the ’90s club-inspired “One Kiss,” which helped land Lipa another number one. Closing out the whirlwind success of this breakthrough era, she collected all these collaborative singles and bundled them with the deluxe version of her debut album as Dua Lipa: Complete Edition, which was promoted with the single “Kiss and Make Up” with K-pop girl group BlackPink.
In early 2019, Lipa won Best New Artist at the 61st Grammy Awards, also taking the prize for Best Dance Recording for “Electricity,” her collaborative hit single with Diplo and Mark Ronson’s Silk City project. By January 2020, she had released two songs, “Don’t Start Now” and “Physical,” as the leadoff tracks to her sophomore full-length album, Future Nostalgia. The funky set arrived a week earlier than expected that March, a gift to fans quarantined at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finding inspiration from OutKast, Prince, Gwen Stefani, and INXS, the effort focused on dancefloor-friendly fare, drawing upon ’70s disco, ’80s pop, and ’90s club music. The critically acclaimed LP was short-listed for the 2020 Mercury Prize and reached number one in the U.K., Australia, and across Europe. Later that summer, Lipa recruited electronic artist the Blessed Madonna for a remix album dubbed Club Future Nostalgia. Playing like a DJ-styled mixtape, the reimagining featured guests Madonna, Missy Elliott, Gwen Stefani, Yaeji, and Blackpink. The Future Nostalgia era was further extended into 2021 with the deluxe repackaging dubbed The Moonlight Edition, which included lead single “We’re Good” as well as collaborative tracks with Belgian singer Angele (“Fever”), Miley Cyrus (“Prisoner”), JID (“Not My Problem”), DaBaby (“Levitating” remix), and J Balvin, Bad Bunny, and Tainy (“Un Dia”). Capping this triumphant period for the artist, Lipa took home her third Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. ~ Neil Z. Yeung