In our article titled “Could Dua Lipa be the emerging ray of hope for pop music in 2016?” a couple of months ago, we gushed with an optimism that we rarely ever feel about the new crop of artists/bands in the international pop music landscape. Our fascination with Dua Lipa and with her music stems, to an extent, from the inherent dichotomy that she seems to represent in our minds. First, she is all of 20 years old, but vocally commandeers songs such as “Be The One” and “New Love” with the confidence of a veteran artist. Second, her image represents someone on the cusp of adulthood but with a lingering innocence from her teenage years. Nothing exemplifies this better than a scene from her music video for “New Love” (her debut single) in which she lights her cigarette with the candles on her birthday cake. Third, and the one that is most baffling to us, is that the acts that inspire her barely make the playlists on our global music radio broadcast. In a recent Australian interview, she stated that her aspiration for the sound for she was going for with her music was a sonic mid-point between Kendrick Lamar and Nelly Furtado. With only four singles (the fourth single “Hotter than hell” releases on May 6, 2016), she sounds far better than both Kendrick Lamar and Nelly Furtado put together. She is also doing something most debutante musicians miss – which is establish characteristic brand attributes through both her vocals and her image. Her defining of a distinct sound and image before the release of her debut album this summer is exemplary.
In the months leading up to the release of her album, she is cultivating a following through a series of live gigs across the globe. Her performance at the McKittrick Hotel on May 5 was her second ever performance in New York City.
McKittrick hotel is known as the venue for popular show “Sleep No More” – a production that involves the audience wearing masks and exploring many rooms while costumed performers enact pivotal scenes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The dingy maze-like pathway that led from the entrance of the hotel to the Manderley Bar (which is where the stage for the concert was) felt like something that was very likely a part of the “Sleep no more” production. The audience was quite a “mixed bag” demographically speaking – but there was a noticeably large Albanian contingent. Based on conversations with a few folks in the line outside the venue, it was brought to my attention that Dua Lipa has been covered by the Albanian media quite a while back and may of the media outlets went as far as touting her as the new “Rita Ora“.
To say the Manderley Bar was an intimate venue would be quite the understatement. It made the evening special – and I think I can speak for everyone in the audience when I say people walked out feeling privileged knowing that they were part of the beginning of a popstar story that is going to be “larger than life” in the foreseeable future.
One of the best surprises for this show is that it started ten minutes early – definitely a first experience! Dua Lipa looked radiant as she made her way onto the stage and dived right into the first song titled “Bad together“. I have always had an appreciation for her vocal chops but witnessing it in a live environment was awe-inspiring. The setlist served as a great showcase for her debut album (which is slated for released towards the end of the summer). The songs represented invigorating cocktail of uptempos and downtempos suggesting a versatility that is becoming almost a pre-requisite for pop stardom these days. Despite the variation between the tracks, there is a cohesion that stems her soulful delivery and smoky voice.
The obvious highlights of the show were “Hotter than hell” (her newest single), “New Love” (her achingly beautiful debut single), the Adele-lite “Thinkin ’bout you” and the addictive “Be The One” ( the song that is assaulting the singles charts across Europe right now) – which, rather unsurprisingly was the final song of the performance . There was not a dull moment in the show. That being said, the noteworthy omission from the setlist was her rendition of “Good Times” (originally recorded by Jamie XX). Its inclusion is the only thing that could have made this concert even more perfect than it already was – especially since this song eclipses the original on almost every sonic dimension.
Music connoisseurs often look to the past when they talk of pop music’s “glory years” but they finally have a future to look forward to – one that brims with optimism. Dua Lipa is the seed for that optimism. Blending a soulful delivery with a hip-hop sensitivity, developing her own brand, and benefiting from an inherent “star factor”, she is poised for a greatness that most modern starlets do not even aspire for. We see a promising future ahead for Dua Lipa and I consider myself honored and privilege to be a part of the audience for this intimate concert. It just might be the last. The next time is most likely going to be in an arena.
1. Bad together
2. Want to
3. Blow your mind (Mwah)
4. Hotter than hell
5. New Love
6. Thinkin ’bout you
8. Last Dance
9. Be The One
STAR RATING: 5 out of 5 stars
Currently, “Hotter Than Hell” and “Be The One” by Dua Lipa are getting 5 plays each per day on our internet radio station and you can listen to us from ANYWHERE in the world on ANY device. In case you did not pick up on this earlier, the blog you are reading is affiliated with Radio Creme Brulee – an online radio station that features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades.
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