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?
Photos Courtesy of the Artists
2023 GRAMMYs Performers Announced: Bad Bunny, Lizzo, Sam Smith, Steve Lacy, Mary J. Blige & More Confirmed
The first wave of 2023 GRAMMYs performers has been announced: Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Lizzo, Kim Petras, and Sam Smith. Catch them all on Sunday, Feb. 5, on CBS, Paramount+, and live.GRAMMY.com!
We all knew Music's Biggest Night would be explosive this year. Now, GRAMMY night just got bigger! The first round of performers for the 2023 GRAMMYs has been announced. Taking the GRAMMY stage will be current nominees Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Lizzo, Kim Petras, and Sam Smith.
Live from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles and hosted by Trevor Noah, the 2023 GRAMMYs will be broadcast live on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on the CBS Television Network and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
Prior to the Telecast, the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony will be broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater at 12:30 p.m. PT and will be streamed live on live.GRAMMY.com. Additional performers will be announced in the coming days.
On GRAMMY Sunday, fans can access exclusive, behind-the-scenes GRAMMYs content, including performances, acceptance speeches, interviews from the GRAMMY Live red-carpet special, and more via the Recording Academy's digital experience on live.GRAMMY.com.
Learn more about the 2023 GRAMMYs performers and host here and below:
Two-time GRAMMY winner Bad Bunny is up for three GRAMMY nominations: Album Of The Year (Un Verano Sin Ti), Best Pop Solo Performance ("Moscow Mule") and Best Música Urbana Album (Un Verano Sin Ti).
Nine-time GRAMMY winner Mary J. Blige is nominated for six GRAMMY Awards: Record Of The Year ("Good Morning Gorgeous"), Album Of The Year (Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)), Best R&B Performance ("Here With Me"), Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Good Morning Gorgeous"), Best R&B Song ("Good Morning Gorgeous"), and Best R&B Album (Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)).
Six-time GRAMMY winner Brandi Carlile is nominated for seven GRAMMY Awards this year: Record Of The Year ("You And Me On The Rock"), Album Of The Year (In These Silent Days), Best Rock Performance ("Broken Horses"), Best Rock Song ("Broken Horses"), Best Americana Performance ("You And Me On The Rock"), Best American Roots Song ("You And Me On The Rock"), and Best Americana Album (In These Silent Days).
Luke Combs is up for three GRAMMY nominations: Best Country Duo/Group Performance ("Outrunnin' Your Memory"), Best Country Song ("Doin' This") and Best Country Album (Growin' Up).
Steve Lacy is up for four GRAMMY nominations: Record Of The Year ("Bad Habit"), Song Of The Year ("Bad Habit"), Best Pop Solo Performance ("Bad Habit"), and Best Progressive R&B Album (Gemini Rights).
Three-time GRAMMY winner Lizzo is nominated for five GRAMMY Awards: Record Of The Year ("About Damn Time"), Album Of The Year (Special), Song Of The Year ("About Damn Time"), Best Pop Solo Performance ("About Damn Time"), and Best Pop Vocal Album (Special).
First-time nominee Kim Petras is up for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance ("Unholy").
Four-time GRAMMY winner Sam Smith is nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance ("Unholy").
Keep checking back here on GRAMMY.com for more details on the 2023 GRAMMYs — and tune in on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT to watch who takes home GRAMMY gold. And head to live.GRAMMY.com for a dynamic and expansive online experience where you can explore Music's Biggest Night in full.
Photo: Travis Bailey
Babyface Reflects On Collaborating With Whitney, Toni, Ella Mai & More: How The Legendary Hitmaker Learned To "Speak In Their Voices"
Babyface has enough Top 10 singles to keep a playlist bumping for hours. The songwriter and producer discusses his most memorable productions, many of which tell compelling stories from a woman's perspective.
You didn't have to live through the '90s to know that 11-time GRAMMY winner Babyface is the mastermind behind so many of the decade's biggest R&B hits. Whitney Houston's "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," Boyz II Men's "End of the Road," and Toni Braxton's "You're Makin' Me High" are just a few No. 1 singles penned by the Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee.
Babyface's legendary status is driven home by 125 Top 10 writer/producer credits, top-tier collaborations with Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, Beyoncé, and Eric Clapton, plus his own iconic hits, such as "Whip Appeal," "When Can I See You," and "Every Time I Close My Eyes." But telling compelling stories — especially from the female perspective — is arguably one of his greatest strengths, as evidenced most recently on Girls' Night Out.
The 13-track collaboration project champions some of today's brightest female R&B stars, including Ari Lennox, Kehlani, and Queen Naija. Lead single "Keeps on Fallin'" with Ella Mai is nominated for Best Traditional R&B Performance at the 2023 GRAMMYs, which means he's now surpassed 50 GRAMMY nominations. "It was a nice surprise," Babyface tells GRAMMY.com. "It inspires you to keep doing the work."
A master of his craft, Babyface did his homework before getting in the studio with each artist on Girls' Night Out. "I needed to learn how people spoke and how melodies are different. Otherwise, I don't know if I would've been able to speak in their voices," he shares. "I have a much clearer understanding of today's R&B because there is a difference, and it's not necessarily a difference that's any better or any worse. It's just a difference in terms of time, and that's what made the process enjoyable to me."
Though Babyface took more of a mentoring approach with Girls' Night Out, he's no stranger to fostering talented female singers, particularly on the soundtrack for the 1995 movie Waiting to Exhale — which exclusively features Black women. The OST boasts a string of No. 1 and Top 10 hits penned entirely by Babyface himself, including beloved classics like Braxton's "Let It Flow" and Brandy's "Sittin' Up in My Room."
Yet "Not Gon' Cry" by Mary J. Blige — who is nominated in six categories at the 65th GRAMMY Awards — remains among Babyface's most memorable productions for Waiting To Exhale. The timeless ballad, written from character Bernadine’s point of view after her husband of 11 years leaves her for another woman, emerged as the Black woman's anthem for showing resilience in the face of romantic heartbreak and betrayal, but the song almost didn't happen.
"The opening lyrics, 'While all the time that I was loving you, you were busy loving yourself,' just sounded like a real-life conversation, and it sounded like something Mary could say," Babyface explains. "I played it for Andre Harrell, and he said, 'It's okay, but I don't think it's the record for her… Mary's too young for this. She's not 47 years old and she ain't been married and all that.'"
He continues, "My answer to him was, 'Mary's singing for everyone else… and she ultimately became a voice for other women.' It wasn't her personal story, but her voice could deliver that."
Babyface's musical legacy developed further with the formation of LaFace Records in 1989 with music executive L.A. Reid. In the label’s glory days, LaFace launched the careers of Braxton, TLC, OutKast, Pink, Usher, Ciara, Goodie Mob, and Donell Jones. But one of his most impressive feats isn't talked about enough: that Whitney Houston selected Babyface to help usher in the more R&B-oriented sound of her third studio album, 1990's I'm Your Baby Tonight.
"They came to LaFace because they wanted a Blacker record, but when I was writing 'I'm Your Baby Tonight,' I wasn't thinking R&B… I was just writing a Whitney record," he says. "There's an urban flavor to it, but the truth is it wasn't that R&B, but everything is R&B if a Black artist touches it… the idea was to run away from songs like 'How Will I Know' and 'I Wanna Dance with Somebody' that were big records for her that they said weren't Black enough."
Babyface and Houston proved to be a winning musical duo, and "I'm Your Baby Tonight" was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female at the 33rd GRAMMY Awards. The collaboration also gave Houston her eighth No. 1 hit, tying with Madonna for the female artist with most No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time.
The success with divas like Houston and Braxton allowed Babyface to explore his versatility as a hitmaker for superstars outside of the R&B realm. For the lush sounds heard on Madonna's sixth studio album, Bedtime Stories, the pop icon teamed up with Dallas Austin, Dave Hall, and of course Babyface, who co-wrote "Forbidden Love" and "Take a Bow." The latter song became her longest running No. 1 hit.
"The track was already laid down and when we brought in the live strings, which was Madonna's suggestion, it became a whole other thing. I think it was the combination of my background vocals behind Madonna's that just made for a very unique song in that sense for her," Babyface recalls. "She was nervous because she just wasn't used to singing that controlled and being that vulnerable. I remember how we sat there and wrote the song together [at the Hit Factory Studios in New York City], so that's a really cool memory."
As the 64-year-old musician enters the next stage of his four-decade career, he has plenty to look forward to: Touring with eight-time GRAMMY winner Anita Baker, a possible deluxe version of Girls' Night Out, and the upcoming 30th anniversary of his third studio album, For the Cool in You, which spawned the top 5 hit "When Can I See You." (The acoustic tune earned Babyface his first GRAMMY for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.)
For all his success, Babyface has remained humble and his greatest joy comes from being able to hear a talented vocalist bring a song he wrote to life. "The best part is when you get into the studio with this idea, this little demo and then, when someone like Whitney, Aretha, or Boyz II Men sings your song, it becomes a hit before your eyes," he says. "They take it to a place I never imagined it could go."
Photos (L-R): Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Harry Styles, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy, LUFRÉ, Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
The Official 2023 GRAMMYs Playlist Is Here: Listen To 115 Songs By Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar & More
Get to know this year's nominees with the official 2023 GRAMMYs playlist, presented in partnership with Amazon Music, which features 115 GRAMMY-nominated songs across pop, rap, country, and beyond from today's stars.
With the 2023 GRAMMYs less than a month away, excitement is bubbling over in the music community.
Whether you're rooting for innovative newcomers like Wet Leg and Omar Apollo or beloved legends like Beyoncé and ABBA, there is an abundance of spectacular talent to be celebrated this year. And the 2023 GRAMMY nominees are not only leading music, but they’re creatively transforming genres, from rap to alternative to reggae — and beyond.
To let the music speak for itself, stream the official 2023 GRAMMYs playlist, presented in partnership with Amazon Music, which features 115 GRAMMY-nominated songs across pop, rap, country, and beyond from today's stars, including BTS, Harry Styles, Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, and many, many more.
Get to know this year's nominees by listening to their biggest hits and GRAMMY-nominated works on this immersive Amazon Music playlist — and tune in to CBS and Paramount+ on Sunday, Feb. 5 to experience Music's Biggest Night live.
Graphic: The Recording Academy
Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne, And Sylvia Rhone To Be Honored At The Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective Event During GRAMMY Week 2023
Recording Academy Honors will celebrate honorees during the GRAMMY Week event presented by the Black Music Collective at the Hollywood Palladium on Feb. 2, 2023.
Just days before the 2023 GRAMMYs, revered GRAMMY Award-winning artists Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, and Lil Wayne and music executive Sylvia Rhone will be honored at the Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective event during GRAMMY Week 2023. All four honorees will receive the Recording Academy Global Impact Award for their personal and professional achievements in the music industry.
The second annual Black Music Collective event and official GRAMMY Week event, which takes place Thursday, Feb. 2, at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles and is sponsored by Amazon Music and Google Pixel Phone, will once again feature first-time GRAMMY nominee Adam Blackstone as the musical director of the evening; Recording Academy Board of Trustees Vice Chair Rico Love will also return to Chair the event.
"I am so thrilled to honor and celebrate these four giants in the music industry," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said. "Last year’s inaugural event was such a highlight during GRAMMY Week and now with Dre, Missy, Wayne and Sylvia there to pay tribute to this year, it's definitely going to be another night to remember. I continue to be proud of the work of our Black Music Collective as it's a vital part of what we do here at the Academy."
Dr. Dre is a seven-time GRAMMY Award-winning artist, producer, founder, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. Dr. Dre began his career as a member of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru. Shortly after, he co-founded the revolutionary group N.W.A. The Compton, California, native embarked on his solo career in 1992 when he released his solo debut album The Chronic, which has been certified triple platinum by the RIAA, reached the top 10 on the Billboard 200 and won a GRAMMY for Best Rap Solo Performance ("Let Me Ride"). Dre launched Aftermath Entertainment in 1996, where over the years, he discovered hip-hop superstars such as 50 Cent, The Game, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson Paak, and Eminem. Jimmy Iovine and Dre established Beats Electronics in 2008 and later launched Beats Music, which were both acquired by Apple in 2014. Among many other accolades, Dre won a GRAMMY and an Emmy for the HBO docuseries The Defiant Ones, and the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show Starring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent took home three Emmys. In 2013, the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation was funded and established. In 2022, they expanded their efforts to the Los Angeles Unified School District by opening the Iovine and Young Center (IYC) Integrated Design, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (IDTE) Magnet, a new high school that will offer students grounding in the same cutting-edge curriculum.
Missy 'Misdemeanor' Elliott has remained relevant as a true visionary and pioneer for women in hip-hop for over 25 years. Her experimental sound and groundbreaking music videos changed the music landscape and challenged artists not to conform to the norm. The multi-GRAMMY-Award-winning rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer made an immediate impact on the music industry with her critically acclaimed debut album Supa Dupa Fly – produced by her longtime production partner Timbaland – which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and went on to achieve platinum certification by the RIAA. The Virginia native has produced for and collaborated with artists such as Aaliyah, Beyoncé, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Ciara, Lil' Kim, J. Cole, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Chris Brown, and Lil Wayne. Among other awards and accolades, Elliott became the first woman rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has received honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music and, most recently, Norfolk State University. In 2022, Elliott was honored in her hometown of Portsmouth with her own street name “Missy Elliott Blvd,” furthermore declaring October 17 to be Missy Elliott Day by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Missy is now the latest addition to the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, where her figure is a recreation of her 2019 MTV Video Music Awards appearance. In 2021, Elliott received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Lil Wayne has left a lasting impact on the culture as a five-time GRAMMY Award-winning, multiplatinum rap icon, Young Money Entertainment founder and CEO, Young Money APAA Sports founder, acclaimed author, pro skater, and philanthropist. By 2020, he cemented his legacy forever as "one of the best-selling artists of all time," tallying sales in excess of 100 million records worldwide with 25 million albums and 90 million digital tracks sold in the United States alone. In 2022, Wayne earned his first diamond certification from the RIAA with his generational smash hit “Lollipop” featuring Static Major. Among many milestones, he emerged as "the first male artist to surpass Elvis Presley with the most entries on the Billboard Hot 100," logging a staggering 183 entries – the third most of all time. Simultaneously, Wayne owns and operates Young Money Entertainment, the company that ignited the careers of Drake, Nicki Minaj, Tyga, and many more. The committed philanthropist founded the One Family Foundation, with the mission of giving power to the youth by providing them with opportunities to practice their talents and skills and inspiring them to dream beyond their circumstances.
Sylvia Rhone has set the pace for the music industry as one of the most impactful, influential, and important executives in history. She has devoted her professional life to music, she broke a glass ceiling for the first time, and changed the landscape forever as the “only African American and first woman ever” to be named Chairwoman and CEO of Elektra Entertainment Group in 1994. She made history once more in 2019 when Sony Music Entertainment selected her as Chairwoman and C.E.O of Epic Records, enshrining her as "the first woman CEO of a major record label owned by a Fortune 500 company and the first Black woman to attain such a title." Along the way, Rhone has impressively left an indelible imprint on pop, hip-hop, rock, heavy metal, R&B, soul, and electronic music with an impeccable track record. She has shepherded the success of everyone from Missy Elliott, Anita Baker, the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Jason Mraz, Busta Rhymes, Pantera, and Metallica to Lil Wayne, Kelly Rowland, Akon, Kid Cudi, Nicki Minaj, A Tribe Called Quest, Fabolous, Tamia, and Gerald Levert, just to name a few. Currently, she is at the helm of Epic Records where she has overseen historic releases from Future, Travis Scott, 21 Savage, DJ Khaled, Camila Cabello, and many more. A music industry trailblazer for four decades, Rhone has catalyzed the careers of artists who have changed music and the world at large — and she will continue to do so.