Photo: Hugo Comte
'Future Nostalgia': How Dua Lipa Rose From Best New Artist To Massive Pop Star
Nominated for six GRAMMYs at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show, Dua Lipa leaped into powerhouse territory with her 2020 sophomore album, 'Future Nostalgia,' becoming pop's newest reigning queen in the process
For Women's History Month 2021, GRAMMY.com is celebrating some of the women artists nominated at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show. Today, we honor Dua Lipa, who's currently nominated for six GRAMMYs.
There was so much to mourn in 2020: The last time we hugged our families, traveled to new places and swayed among sweaty strangers on a dance floor. But that didn't stop Dua Lipa.
Since last March, the English pop star has released not one, but three albums. The first of the trilogy, her defiant dance pop sophomore record, Future Nostalgia, released last March just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to take hold over the world, quickly became a nu-disco-tinged masterpiece. It was a bold move for Lipa to release a record in a pandemic, with the major-label pop album rollout upended and international touring put on pause.
The risk paid off: Future Nostalgia became her first album to enter the Top 5 on Billboard's Hot 200 chart. And if Future Nostalgia was any indication, the thrill of taking risks was far from over.
Last August, the singer released Club Future Nostalgia, an adrenaline-filled remix album for the digital dance floor, made with DJ/producer the Blessed Madonna. For the album, she enlisted collaborators Blackpink, Mark Ronson, Madonna, Missy Elliott and Gwen Stefani.
But she still wasn't done expanding the Future Nostalgia universe. Just last month, she shared another version of the album, The Moonlight Edition, which included three new singles as well as Lipa's "Prisoner" collaboration with Miley Cyrus; "Un Día" with J Balvin, Bad Bunny and Tainy, for which she's currently nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance; and "Not My Problem" with J.I.D.
It's clear Lipa put in the work to get here. With the release of her 2017 self-titled debut album, the singer became crystallized as a feminist force in the pop world. Singles like the beguiling synth-pop anthem "Be the One" and the club-ready "Blow Your Mind (Mwah)" captivated listeners. But it was the empowering smash "New Rules" that ignited a viral craze for its infectious lyrics and GIF-able music video, which is filled with women holding and uplifting each other while dancing sleepover-themed choreography.
Dua Lipa and the subsequent success of "New Rules" helped Lipa nab a Best New Artist GRAMMY in 2019—plus an internet nickname ("Dula Peep")—and primed her for pop superstardom. While her self-titled album established her as a headlining pop contender, Lipa continued to push herself.
Part of challenging herself came in the fallout of the pandemic. The pop album release cycle is generally highly orchestrated, teeming with the careful planning of single releases, music videos and tour dates. But one cannot prepare for unprecedented times: Per The New York Times, as Lipa's 85-date arena tour was pushed back, there were talks in her camp of postponing the drop of Future Nostalgia—then days before her livestream of the album leaked—and an imminent release became necessary. This was all happening in parallel with the collective trauma and grief the world was facing with COVID.
Future Nostalgia delivered exactly the escapism people around the world sought.
The anthemic single "Don't Start Now," currently nominated for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show, was the kind of carefree, disco-inflected number you'd hear while skating backward at a '70s roller rink. What followed was the candy-coated, dance pop track "Physical," which delivered '80s aerobics touchstones, and "Break My Heart," a glittery, disco funk jaunt with swaggering guitar riffs. (The album's retro-futuristic slant touched everything: from the songs themselves to the neon leotards in the music videos.)
Lipa saw how cathartic the music had become for her fans. The album hailed quarantine anthems and received the meme treatment: "Don't Start Now" for its refrain ("Don't show up/Don't come out") and "Break My Heart" for its very timely chorus ("I should have stayed home").
As fans found new ways to connect with Future Nostalgia, so did Lipa—and innovation took the lead. Doing late-night TV performances required a newfound sense of creativity.
Then there was the idea of trying to recreate concerts. While a garden variety of livestreams had been sprinkled throughout 2020, the absence of flashy arena performances was an obvious void. But despite live shows being canceled indefinitely, Lipa led the charge behind one of the year's most highly anticipated—and polished—virtual concerts with Studio 2054, which paid homage to the Future Nostalgia universe. Filmed in a sprawling London warehouse, the livestream concert saw Lipa command the stage of custom-built sets with sleek choreography, glitter, glam, raves and roller discos, along with special appearances from Elton John, FKA twigs, Kylie Minogue, Bad Bunny and more.
Future Nostalgia was indeed a game-changer for Lipa's musical arc and aesthetic; it was a transformation for her career, too. She didn't just create an album—she created an era. "Her voice changes a song the same way her presence lights up a room," Future Nostalgia producer Ian Kirkpatrick tells GRAMMY.com.
Future Nostalgia took Lipa into powerhouse territory, with the singer making the massive leap from Best New Artist to pop's newest reigning queen. Most of all, it showed that Lipa could seamlessly redefine herself. Sarah Hudson, who co-wrote songs on her debut album as well as "Levitating" and "Physical" off Future Nostalgia, had "no doubt" that Lipa "would take over the world." "[Dua] had a very specific vision for Future Nostalgia, and she executed it flawlessly," she tells GRAMMY.com. "It comes genuinely from her heart, and you can feel that in every single song."
It also helped that Lipa had a top-tier team behind her. Chris Gehringer, who mastered Future Nostalgia, says that the album's success stemmed from the fact that Lipa enlisted producers and engineers who all "worked on a No. 1 song and album before." "I mastered three songs from her debut album, 'Lost In Your Light,' 'Blow Your Mind' and 'New Rules,' so I knew this new album was going to be big," he tells GRAMMY.com. Ali Tamposi, who co-wrote "Break My Heart," describes Lipa as a "force to be reckoned with." "We're lucky to have someone like her at the forefront of music who [continuously] raises the bar."
Following this year's GRAMMYs, it'll be interesting to watch how Dua Lipa continues to evolve as an artist. Future Nostalgia was such a sonic departure from her first album—how will she push the boundaries of pop next?
Photo: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images
On New Album 'Sentimiento, Elegancia y Más Maldad,' Arcángel Proves He's One Of Reggaetón’s Wittiest Innovators
"You become dexterous at building a reality with words," the reggaetón star says of his inventive flow. Those skills are on full display on Arcángel's brand new album, 'Sentimiento, Elegancia y Más Maldad.'
Earlier this year, rapper and reggaetón star Arcángel collaborated with Bizarrap on one of the Argentine producer’s infamous sessions. A huge global hit, the track — "Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 54" — reminded us all of Arcángel’s devilish sense of humor and the brilliant specificity of his flow: languid, sweetly melodic, loaded with inventive wordplay.
At 37, Austin Agustín Santos is a revered veteran of the urbano genre. Born in New York City, he eventually moved to Puerto Rico and experienced his first brush with fame as part of the reggaetón duo Arcángel & De la Ghetto. His first solo effort, 2008’s El Fenómeno, included the smash "Pa’Que La Pases Bien," heralding his affinity for cutting-edge EDM soundscapes.
Arcángel never lost his Midas touch for generating memorable songs. Last year’s Sr. Santos included "La Jumpa," a kinetic duet with Bad Bunny, and the slick majesty of "PortoBello." Released Nov. 17, his new album, Sentimiento, Elegancia y Más Maldad, boasts high-profile collaborations with Peso Pluma (lead single "La Chamba"), Rauw Alejandro (the EDM-heavy “FP”), Grupo Frontera, Spanish rapper Quevedo, and Feid, among others.
At the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, Arcángel's "La Jumpa" received nods in the Best Urban Fusion/Performance and Best Urban Song categories; his Bizarrap session and their collaboration, "Bottas" were submitted were submitted as part of BZRP's Producer Of The Year nomination package.
Ahead of the release of his new album, Arcángel spoke with GRAMMY.com about his sophisticated rhymes, the trappings of fame, and the occasional bouts of self-doubt.
The rhymes on your Bizarrap session reference the Tower of Pisa, the shields of the gladiators in the Roman empire, Argentine soccer and luxury cars. How do you come up with this stuff?
It’s something that I’ve been developing since I was a kid. Here in Puerto Rico, we’re big fans of what we call palabreo (non-stop talk.) It’s also my Dominican blood, because people in the Dominican Republic are always making up things.
When I was growing up, my mother fostered a love for reading in me, so I have a lot of information in my head that I can draw from. For instance, no one had referenced the Tower of Pisa in reggaetón before. I’d say a good 80 percent of reggaetoneros may not even know what the Tower of Pisa is. My mother worked hard so that I could get a good education.
Would you say the uniqueness of your style stems from those early years?
I grew up in a highly competitive environment. In the barrio, it was normal for us to improvise and mock each other in a friendly way. If you showed up with dirty sneakers, someone would rap about it. With so many years of practicing, it became a skill. There was a time when I wouldn’t come up to the barrio if I wasn’t well dressed, because I knew what I had to face.
You become dexterous at building a reality with words — like an architect. I like everything to make sense in my rhymes. I become obsessive about it. The words don’t necessarily have to rhyme — as long as they have flow, style, and they make sense.
On the video of the Bizarrap session, we also get to witness your hilarious sense of humor. How did that part of your artistic identity develop?
I was raised in an environment marked by poverty, but there was also a lot of joy. We had nothing except for each other. Incredibly, I was happier then. I grew up feeling comfortable in uncomfortable situations, and that’s where my sense of humor comes from. I saw my Mom working two or three jobs so that she could put some food on the table. The only recourse I had to escape that reality was to make jokes and try to have a good time.
When fortune and fame arrived, they provided a better lifestyle. But they also took away many things that I now miss — things that will never come back.
The last two albums contain some of your best material yet. Would it be fair to say that you’re enjoying a creative high?
The process of making music has become extremely hard for me during the past couple of years. I’m experiencing great success, but it also works as a kind of emotional torture, because my mental health is not the best. My own mind is the most formidable rival. I’m overwhelmed by the fear of not fulfilling the expectations that my fans may have. I’ve felt self-doubt, something that is entirely new to me.
With all the experience I’ve amassed, I’m now at my most vulnerable. The act of creating felt so easy to me. Now, when the muse departs, it’s difficult to bring her back. Also, I’ve always preferred quality over quantity. Some of my peers are releasing three albums per year. I need to do some living in order to write new songs.
On the new album, the track with Rauw Alejandro (“FP”) is incredibly lush, seeped in atmosphere and EDM texture.
I sing about love because I’m a romantic. And I sing about partying because I definitely did a lot of that — too much, perhaps. [Laughs.] I used to be the kind of person who couldn’t stay home more than three hours. I harbor fond memories of that time — spending days away from home, the ambiance of it all, having a great time.
When I write songs, I can definitely convince people that I’ve enjoyed all of that. In reality, these days I’m even a bit boring when it comes to partying.
Photo: Courtesy of The Latin Recording Academy/Borja B. Hojas, Getty Images © 2023
2023 Latin GRAMMYs: Karol G Wins Album Of The Year For 'Mañana Será Bonito'
Karol G won the Latin GRAMMY for Album Of The Year for 'Mañana Será Bonito' at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs.
Pablo Alborán's La Cu4rta Hoja, Paula Arenas' A Ciegas, Camilo's De Adentro Pa Afuera, Andrés Cepeda's Décimo Cuarto, Juanes' Vida Cotidiana, Natalia Lafourcade's De Todas Las Flores, Ricky Martin's Play, Fito Paez's Eadda9223, and Carlos Vives' Escalona Nunca Se Había Grabado Así were the other nominees in the category.
Karol G first made a splash by cross-pollinating reggaeton and Latin trap; these days, she has eyes on an entire country: her native Colombia.
Musical powerhouse, reggaetonera and general bichota, Karol G is one major reason why all eyes are on Colombia. After establishing herself as a hit-making star in the adjoining worlds of reggaeton and Latin trap, she is clearly enjoying her success and savoring the moment.
As its sunshine-and-rainbows-festooned cover suggests, Mañana Será Bonito was one of 2023's most irresistible albums — it radiates verve, panache and sexuality. Not only that: it’s filled with inspired features by the likes of Romeo Santos, Shakira, Carla Morrison, and Sean Paul. Mañana Será Bonito debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 200, making it the first all-Spanish language album by a female artist to hold that impressive distinction.
Check out the complete list of winners and nominees at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs.
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Latin Recording Academy
Watch: Camilo, IZA, Manuel Carrasco & Edgar Barrera Link For An International Celebration At The 2023 Latin GRAMMYs
The collaborative performance featured talent from Colombia, Brazil, Spain and the U.S. Beginning with an acoustic duet and ending with Carnival vibes, Camilo, IZA, Manuel Carrasco, and Edgar Barrera showcased a breadth of musical expression.
Some of the brightest talents in the Latin music world — from all around the world — met on stage at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs.
The performance began with Camilo and Manuel Carrasco in a sweet acoustic duet on their recent single "Salitre," their voices and guitars blending together smoothly. The mood shifted quickly when rising Brazilian singer IZA made her entrance and joined the pair for Camilo’s "Pegao," with Texas-born producer and songwriter Edgar Barrera providing backup on keytar. A festive, Carnivalesque energy filled the room, bolstered by dancers twirling parasols.
"Pegao" is a single from Camilo’s 2022 album De Adentro Pa Afuera, which was nominated for Album Of The Year. The lively cumbia joyfully celebrates his love for his young daughter, Indigo. The mononymous Colombian singer/songwriter penned the song with Barrera and Andres Castro.
Camilo and Barrera were among the most-nominated artists at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, and worked together on De Adentro Pa Afuera. Barrera, has 13 nominations — thanks to his work with the likes of Bad Bunny, Maluma and Marc Anthony, and Marshmello and Manuel Turizo — and took home the golden gramophone for Producer Of The Year. He also now shares in the Latin GRAMMY for Best Regional Song as a songwriter on "un x100to," the chart-topping collaboration between Bad Bunny and Grupo Frontera. Camilo earned seven nominations this year.
Their fellow performers were nominees, too. Spanish singer Manuel Carrasco was up for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for his 2022 full-length Corazón y Flecha, and IZA was nominated for Best Portuguese Language Urban Performance for her 2022 single "Fé."
Photo: Courtesy of The Latin Recording Academy/Rodrigo Varela, Getty Images © 2023
2023 Latin GRAMMYs: Shakira & Bizarrap Win Latin GRAMMY For Song Of The Year For "Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53"
Shakira & Bizarrap won the Latin GRAMMY for Song Of The Year at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs.
Shakira's "Acróstico," Pablo Alborán & Maria Becerra's "Amigos," Natalia Lafourcade's "De Todas Las Flores," Eslabon Armado & Peso Pluma's "Ella Baila Sola," Camilo & Alejandro Sanz's "NASA," Lasso's "Ojos Marrones," Fonseca & Juan Luis Guerra's "Si Tú Me Quieres," Karol G feat. Shakira's "Tqg," and Grupo Frontera feat. Bad Bunny's "Un X100to" were the other nominees in the category.
By any stretch of the imagination, Shakira has had a pivotal year. Despite undergoing a highly conspicuous separation — and tabloids worldwide honed in on her every move and social media post — she proved yet again she's a pop phenom of the highest order.
Shakira kicked off her 2023 with the viral "Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53," a synth-popping clap-back at her ex. In just 24 hours, "Vol. 53" accrued more than 15 million streams on Spotify, thereby topping the straming platform's Top 50 global list. On top of that, the video garnered over 55 million views on YouTube — which broke a record for a Spanish-language track.
On "Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53," the singer makes her power known, cutting through the tabloids and BS and speaking her truth. "A she-wolf like me/ isn't for guys like you," the she declares. "I was out of your league/ That's why you're/ With someone just like you.” The fiery diss track arose from session with Argentinan DJ and producer Bizarrap.; they co-wrote the track with Keityn and Santiago Alvarado.
Check out the complete list of winners and nominees at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs.