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6 Ways Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia Tour Proves She's The Pop Star We've Been Waiting For
Nearly two years after Dua Lipa invited the world to dance with her GRAMMY-winning album, 'Future Nostalgia,' she's finally bringing it to stages around the world. But the concert isn’t just a dance party — it's the declaration of a true superstar.
When Dua Lipa won the GRAMMY for Best New Artist in 2019, she began her speech by acknowledging the "incredible" female artists she was nominated alongside (which included H.E.R. and Bebe Rexha). "I guess this year we've really stepped up," she said.
In the years since — despite a global pandemic causing some unexpected roadblocks — Lipa has certainly stepped up herself. Releasing her second album, Future Nostalgia, just weeks after the COVID-19 quarantine began in 2020, Lipa helped the locked-down world escape to an alternate club-like universe. And now that she's been able to bring that to life, Dua Lipa's star is shining brighter than ever.
The Future Nostalgia Tour, which kicked off in February and will circle the globe until mid-November, puts Lipa's power on full display. The 26-year-old singer carries herself with tangible confidence throughout the 90-minute show, showcasing the work she has put to become one of the most revered acts of her generation.
With artists like Billie Eilish introducing a darker side of pop and Olivia Rodrigo reinventing punk-inspired pop, the term "pop star" can be tricky to define. But Lipa has taken the traditional pop star tour formula — choreography, costume changes, engineered elements — and made it her own with the Future Nostalgia Tour. Dua Lipa's reign is seemingly just beginning.
Below, take a look at some of the ways Lipa's tour proved her pop prowess.
From one scan of the crowd, it was apparent that Lipa isn't the kind of female pop star that only young girls idolize. Sure, there were plenty of moms with their sequin-clad daughters, but there were also dads and sons donning Lipa's likeness on their shirts.
It seems Dua Lipa appeals to parents regardless of if their kids are in tow. Groups of women and men of all ages were in attendance, some even donning some bedazzled glasses a la Lipa's "Cold Heart" collaborator, Elton John.
She's As Humble As She Is Badass
Though her stage commentary never really extended beyond "thank you so much for being here," Lipa's expressions of gratitude were nothing but sincere. "Thank you for listening to the music, it means the absolute world to me," she added, "and I'm so honored that I get to be here tonight, sharing this evening with you, and with all these incredible people on the stage as well."
She made sure her touring troupe got the attention they deserved, even using the show's opening to introduce her dancers before herself.
She Makes Simplicity Cool
Okay, "simple" isn't exactly the word to describe Lipa's show. Every detail was clearly thought-out, from the multifaceted staging to the dance breaks during a costume change.
Yet, there was a simplicity to everything. Each production element — whether it was an illusionary set of twinkling lights during "Be The One" or a basket that (appropriately) ascended Lipa over the crowd for "Levitating" — created a spectacle that was more mesmerizing than overwhelming. (In very '90s pop star fashion, Lipa even incorporated a chair-dance routine for "Hallucinate.")
And while most of Lipa's choreography involved hip sways and toe taps, she makes them effortlessly cool. Frankly, she didn't even need to dance — her powerful strut was enough to carry the show.
Her Sex Appeal Isn't Polarizing
As her new single with Megan Thee Stallion, "Sweetest Pie," suggests, Lipa is a master at sexual innuendos and metaphors. They're sprinkled across Future Nostalgia, but never get too carried away — and that's exactly how she presents them in person.
Even when she was grinding on her dancers or sliding down the mic stand, every move Lipa made was more playful than hypersexualized. And even the most forward song of the entire album, "Good In Bed," featured a metaphorical visual — a bowl of cherries — that brought both an innocence for her younger fans and a fun little tease for the older crowd.
She Obviously Loves What She Does
For a show that is so clearly thought out, it was evident that Lipa enjoys every single second. There was hardly a moment when she wasn’t smiling.
Her star power truly shines when she performs "Future Nostalgia" solo, serving up Prince vibes with mic stand tricks and making heads spin with furious hair flips.
Whether she's backed by dancers or on her own, Lipa not only knows how to run the stage, but loves it. And she’s damn good at it, too.
She’s Created Her Own Universe
Lipa already proved this point in 2020, with her remix album Club Future Nostalgia and her livestream concert, Studio 2054. Even so, an arena stage brings her nightclub-inspired, futuristic world to another level.
Her dance hits (Silk City collab "Electricity" and Calvin Harris team-up "One Kiss") turned the place into a rave, complete with a balloon drop. And, of course, there were plenty of space elements, from a moon-shaped backdrop for "Boys Will Be Boys" to stars protruding from the ceiling before the encore.
If there’s one statement the Future Nostalgia Tour makes, it’s that Dua Lipa has paved her own pop star lane — and she’s ready for everyone to join her universe.
Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Dua Lipa Teases New Album, 'Future Nostalgia,' Announces 2020 Tour Dates
The 2019 Best New Artist shared the first details of her highly anticipated sophomore LP by getting the album title tattooed on her arm
GRAMMY-winning dance-pop queen Dua Lipa is poised to bring us boldly into the new decade. On Dec. 1, the 2019 Best New Artist shared the first details of her highly anticipated sophomore LP by getting the album title, Future Nostalgia, tattooed on her arm and posting it on social media.
The "Electricity" artist followed up the album reveal with another exciting announcement: a 24-date European tour, which she will kick off on April 26 in Madrid. The Future Nostalgia EU Tour 2020 will see the Londoner playing massive venues across Europe, two nights at London's 20,000-capacity The 02 and Berlin's Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Lipa has not announced the release date for the new album yet, although her most recent bop, the vibrant nu-disco-tinged "Don't Start Now," was confirmed to be the lead single. She dropped the "boy bye" anthem on Halloween, followed by a fun new video (where you can peek that new tattoo!) the next day, Nov. 1.
She also spoke about the forthcoming project in a recent press release:
"What I wanted to do with this album was to break out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to make music that felt like it could sit alongside some of my favorite classic pop songs, whilst still feeling fresh and uniquely mine. I was inspired by so many artists on the new record from Gwen Stefani to Madonna to Moloko to Blondie and OutKast, to name just a few.
Because of the time that I'd spent on the road touring with my band I wanted Future Nostalgia to have a lot more of a live element, but mixed together with modern electronic production. My sound has naturally matured a bit as I've grown up but I wanted to keep the same pop sensibility as I had on the first record. I remember that I was on my way to a radio show in Las Vegas thinking about the direction for this new record and I realized that what I wanted to make was something that felt nostalgic but had something fresh and futuristic about it too."
Sounds like exactly what we need in pop music in 2020!
Last October, at her powerful acoustic performance and intimate conversation at the GRAMMY Museum, the "New Rules" singer noted the personal-feeling early albums of P!nk and Nelly Furtado, two of her childhood favorites, as points of reference for her 2017 self-titled debut album. We also caught up with her before the event to chat about working with Calvin Harris, who's on her collab wish list (Rosalía and Frank Ocean are two!), what the viral success of "New Rules" felt like for her and more.
Tickets for the Future Nostalgia EU Tour go on sale this Friday, Dec. 6 at 9 a.m. local time, except for Spain, whose tickets will go on sale on Dec. 5 at 9 a.m.—more details can be found on dualipa.com.
Photo: Luc Coiffait | Design: F Inomata
Dua Lipa On Calvin Harris, Other Dream Collabs, "New Rules," & More
We go behind-the-scenes to hear what it was like for the pop star to work with Harris on his throwback-inspired "One Kiss," her gratitude for "New Rules" giving her "so many opportunities," and more
Dua Lipa has been on fire lately and she's ready for more. Following the viral success of her catchy girl-power anthem "New Rules," released last summer from her debut self-titled album, she's brought more hits in the form of big-time collabs. In April, dance music powerhouse Calvin Harris dropped the summer-ready jam "One Kiss" featuring Lipa, and in September Silk City, the new Diplo and Mark Ronson production duo, gave us another dance-floor gem from the pop star with "Electricity."
She visited the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles on Sept. 28 to give fans an intimate conversation and performance, and we caught up with her beforehand to learn more about what it was like working with Harris, who else she would love to collab with (Frank Ocean is on her list), what song she currently has on repeat, the success of "New Rules," and more.
The star is humble about her success and grateful for the positive reception she has gotten so far. She reflects on her breakout hit single "New Rules" with gratitude for what it's allowed her to do since then.
"It was something that I wanted, but never something that I expected. It really took me by surprise," Lipa shares. "I feel like it definitely took ten steps bigger and it just gave me so many opportunities."
GRAMMY Rewind: Dua Lipa Champions Individuality As She Accepts Her Best New Artist GRAMMY In 2019
In her galvanizing 2019 acceptance speech, Dua Lipa celebrated women in music and reminded her fans and fellow artists to stay true to themselves.
In 2019, Dua Lipa won her first-ever GRAMMYs: one in the Best Dance Recording category, for her song “Electricity,” and a second in the all-genre Best New Artist category.
In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the singer’s inspiring Best New Artist acceptance speech, which she used as a platform to celebrate the strides women creators have made.
She was particularly emotional as she took the stage to claim the latter trophy, admitting that she was “nervous” and didn’t quite know what to say. It was easy to see why: For Lipa, the win was a major personal accomplishment, but it also represented a victory for female musical artists as well as anyone who hopes to find stardom without sacrificing their individuality.
“Where I want to begin is by saying how honored I am to be nominated alongside so many incredible female artists,” she said from the podium. “I guess this year we’ve really stepped up.”
Women made up the bulk of the Best New Artist nominees at the 61st GRAMMY Awards; Luke Combs and Greta Van Fleet were the only two male contenders in the category. Plus, the nominees also represented a wide range of genres, backgrounds and identities.
From the sunglass-sporting R&B powerhouse H.E.R. to the Americana mainstay Margo Price to the genre-blending pop phenom Bebe Rexha, each contender brought a well-developed, unique sense of self to their music.
After offering her emotional gratitude to her fans, family and team, Lipa remarked on how the category — and her win — should provide inspiration for anyone making a run at success without letting go of who they are.
“For anyone that hasn’t realized how special they are — to have a different story, a different background, a name that honors their roots — because they just wanna be normal, whatever the hell that means,” Lipa said. “Just know that no matter where you’re from, or your background, or what you believe in, never let that get in the way of you and your dreams, because you deserve it.”
“I’m proof that you can do whatever you put your mind to,” she added. “However hard you work, I really believe in it, and I believe in you.”
The singer’s belief in pursuing dreams and individuality in tandem would continue to serve her well in the years ahead. At the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, she was a GRAMMY winner again — this time for Best Pop Vocal Album for Future Nostalgia.
Watch the video above to see Lipa’s full Best New Artist acceptance speech, and check back for more episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.
Photo: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
2021 In Review: 8 Trends That Defined Pop
Pop's reach became even wider this year, with newcomers, superstars and global acts all delivering some of the year's biggest hits and memorable moments
It seems there's never a dull moment in pop music. But in 2021, the genre's rising stars and longtime greats all came out swinging, always giving fans something to be excited about.
Taylor Swift and her unofficial protege, Olivia Rodrigo, made for two of the biggest stories of the year: Swift began releasing her rerecorded albums, and Rodrigo had the world listening after she dropped her global phenomenon "driver's license."
Pop expanded its palette this year, too, with K-pop experiencing its biggest year yet and Nigeria proving that its Afropop stars have some serious promise.
On top of all of that, fans finally received some of pop's most-anticipated albums in 2021, making for a year that was truly monumental and memorable. Take a look at eight of the genre's most prominent trends below.
Teenage Angst Took Over
From the moment 2021 began, there was no denying it was going to be the year of Olivia Rodrigo. With the runaway chart and streaming successes of her two biggest hits so far — the teenage heartbreak ballad "driver's license" and the angsty, Paramore-sampling "good 4 u," which both debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 — the 18-year-old was at the helm of young stars who weren't afraid to get raw and real in 2021.
A sense of vulnerability was the through-line of pop's new wave this year, and it clearly resonated. In addition to Rodrigo's triumphs, Australian breakout The Kid LAROI landed a Top 10 hit with the gut-wrenching acoustic track "Without You" as well as a Hot 100 and pop radio No. 1 with the Justin Bieber-assisted bop "Stay." And if the honest lyrics of his hit singles aren't enough indication, just look at the title of its parent album: F--- Love.
Tate McRae, another 18-year-old, also hit a sweet spot with her peers with her anti-sympathetic breakup song, "you broke me first." The song has amassed more than one billion streams worldwide, also reaching No. 1 on pop radio.
Of course, Gen Z first got in their feelings thanks to Billie Eilish, and she continued to carry her torch in 2021 with the release of her second album, Happier Than Ever. Though the album's jazz-influenced, downtempo nature was a departure from the trap-led sound of her debut, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, it lyrically stayed right in line with the trenchant honesty that made her a star — and, seemingly, opened the floodgates for her teen successors.
"Taylor's Versions" Caused a Frenzy
Nearly two years after Taylor Swift announced that she'd be re-recording her first six albums in order to regain artistic and financial control, the first two albums arrived in 2021. And boy, did Swifties have a field day.
The country starlet turned pop superstar knew exactly what her loyal legion of followers would want, releasing remakes of fan favorites Fearless and Red this year. Upon the April release of Fearless (Taylor's Version), the album had the biggest opening day for an album on Spotify in 2021, garnering 50 million global streams on its first day and subsequently debuting atop the Billboard 200.
Yet, it was Red (Taylor's Version) that became a phenomenon, becoming the most-streamed album in a day from a female artist on Spotify with nearly 91 million global first-day streams (breaking the record she previously set with 2020's Folklore). The album's immediate draw owed partial thanks to a 10-minute version of her beloved power ballad "All Too Well," which took on a life of its own. Along with becoming a short film that Swift debuted in New York City and earning the singer her eighth No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, it also blew up the Twittersphere with scathing (yet amusing) tweets about the song's supposed subject, actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
Among Red (Taylor's Version)'s many other feats, the 10-minute, 13-second version of "All Too Well" also became the longest song to top the Hot 100. With four re-records still left to release, who knows what kind of records Swift will break next?
Black Women Took The Genre By Storm
While 2021 wasn't necessarily a breakout year for Doja Cat or Normani, it was the year that both stars came into their own — and, ultimately, reinvented the pop star ideal.
After teasing her pop sensibility with her 2020 smash "Say So," Doja Cat struck pop gold again with the SZA-featuring "Kiss Me More." The disco-tinged hit was just one of the many A-list collaborations on Doja's hailed album Planet Her, which has accumulated more than 3 billion streams since its June release and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
On the opposite end, Normani — who got her start in pop girl group Fifth Harmony and saw her first two solo hits (2018's "Love Lies" and 2019's "Dancing With a Stranger") take over pop radio — reminded listeners of her versatility in 2021. Following an empowered team-up with Megan Thee Stallion for the Birds of Prey soundtrack, Normani recruited Cardi B to help bring out her R&B side on the sexy slow jam "Wild Side," which earned the 25-year-old singer her first hit on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (in the top 5, no less).
Two artists who did have breakout years were Beyoncé protegee Chloë and German singer/songwriter Zoe Wees. Chloë, one half of R&B duo Chloe x Halle, released her debut solo single "Have Mercy" to critical acclaim, putting on showstopping performances of the song at the MTV Video Music Awards and the American Music Awards. Wees closed out the AMAs with a powerful rendition of her poignant song, "Girls Like Us," the follow-up to her viral hit "Control."
Artists Loudly Proclaimed Their Sexuality
As acceptance becomes more prominent within mainstream music, stars are latching on to the new era of being open about however they identify.
Though Lil Nas X came out as gay in 2019, his sonic proclamation came in controversial form with "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)." The video for the flamenco-dripped track — whose title references the 2017 gay romance film Call Me By Your Name — depicted biblical and Satanic scenes in racy fashion. Despite resulting in backlash from religious groups, the song and video's bold statement served as an impactful one for the LGBTQ+ community — as Lil Nas put it himself, pushing for "more acceptance, more open-mindedness amongst humanity as a whole."
Demi Lovato (who announced they are non-binary in May) featured a song about their sexual fluidity on their seventh album, Dancing With the Devil, released in April. The wavy "The Kind of Lover I Am" declares "Doesn't matter, you're a woman or a man/ That's the kind of lover I am" on its rolling chorus.
Bringing back one of pop's first sexual fluidity anthems, Fletcher interpolated Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" for her own single "Girls Girls Girls," which marked "the freedom and the celebration I've been craving my whole life," she said in a press release. One month later, she teamed up with Hayley Kiyoko (who has been dubbed "Lesbian Jesus" by her fans) for "Cherry," a flirty sapphic jam.
K-Pop's English Infusion Blew Up
Thanks to the likes of BTS and BLACKPINK — and now countless other groups — K-pop has made its way into the U.S. pop market in a major way in recent years. As it has continued to boom, more and more artists are releasing songs that are completely in English — and the genre is arguably bigger than ever.
Less than a year after BTS first dabbled in English-language singles with 2020's smash "Dynamite," they delivered the biggest hit of their career with the smooth sensation "Butter." The song debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for 10 non-consecutive weeks — a streak initially broken up by their third English-language hit, "Permission to Dance."
BLACKPINK saw two of its members go solo in 2021, Lisa and Rosé, who each issued English-language singles of their own. Lisa's "Money" and Rosé's "On The Ground" both landed on the Hot 100, respectively garnering more than 375 million and 255 million YouTube views alone.
Several other acts released notable English-language tracks, with SEVENTEEN and TWICE each putting out their first: "2 MINUS 1" features SEVENTEEN members Joshua and Vernon, and "The Feels" became TWICE's first top 20 hit on the Billboard Global 200, where it reached No. 12.
Pop Became More Global Than Ever Before
South Korea isn't the only far-flung country having a moment. In fact, Nigeria is arguably one of the most fruitful geographical founts of music — particularly thanks to the recent Afropop explosion.
Wizkid — who first saw global success with his Drake collaboration, "One Dance," in 2016 — earned his first Billboard Hot 100 hit as a lead artist with the R&B-tinged single "Essence." The song features fellow Nigerian singer Tems, making history as the first Nigerian song to break the Hot 100 top 10. The sultry track caught the attention of Justin Bieber, who hopped on a remix and declared it the "song of the summer."
Two other rising Nigerian acts, Joeboy and Fireboy DML, saw their Afropop takes resonate this year, too. Joeboy's "Alcohol" inspired a viral TikTok craze, and the success of Fireboy's "Peru" landed a remix with Ed Sheeran in December.
Elsewhere, Latin still proves to have a profound impact in the pop world. Puerto Rican newcomer Rauw Alejandro's irresistibly catchy "Todo De Ti" made its way to mainstream radio, as did Maluma's global hit "Hawái," the latter thanks to a remix with The Weeknd. And Pop queens Christina Aguilera and Selena Gomez also honored their Latin roots: Aguilera dropped two singles, "Pas Mis Muchachas" and "Somos Nada"; Gomez released her first Spanish-language project, Revelación.
In the streaming world, Bad Bunny — Spotify's most-streamed artist for the second year in a row — and BTS (No. 3 on Spotify's year-end tally) proved that Latin and K-pop are equal contenders to pop powerhouses like Taylor Swift and Bieber, who were No. 2 and 5, respectively.
Superstars Joined Forces
Sure, every year sees star-studded collaborations. But with artists having unprecedented downtime in 2020 and into 2021, some iconic pairings were born.
Ariana Grande and The Weeknd — no strangers to working together — scored their first Hot 100 No. 1 with a remix of The Weeknd's "Save Your Tears." Another Grande collaborator, Lizzo, teamed up with Cardi B for her latest single, "Rumors."
One of the most unexpected (and brilliant) partnerships came from Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, who joined forces for the '70s funk-inspired duo Silk Sonic. The pair dropped their silky debut single, "Leave the Door Open," just one week after announcing their joint project in February, and unveiled An Evening With Silk Sonic in November.
Veterans recruited some of pop's newer voices, too. Australian icon Kylie Minogue dueted with British electropop star Years & Years on "A Second to Midnight," a track from her reissue album, Disco: Guest List Edition. She also featured Dua Lipa on the album on a song titled "Real Groove."
Lipa co-starred with another legend, Elton John, on the chart-topping (and "Rocket Man"-sampling) hit "Cold Heart (PNAU Remix)." The single was part of John's jam-packed collaborative album, The Lockdown Sessions, which also featured Charlie Puth, Stevie Nicks and Stevie Wonder, among many others.
Long-Awaited Albums Arrived
Silk Sonic appeased those eagerly waiting for Bruno Mars to follow up his 2016 Album Of The Year-winning LP, 24K Magic, as the duo’s material featured plenty of signature Bruno power hooks and slinky melodies. But those still longing for a solo Bruno Mars record may have at least been satisfied by the other 2021 arrivals.
Six years in the making, Adele’s 30 finally landed in November — and, unsurprisingly, became the top-selling album of the year in just its first three days. The LP has now sold more than 1 million copies, and spawned the singer’s fifth Hot 100 No. 1 with the poignant lead single, “Easy on Me.” Beyond accolades, 30 sees Adele at her most vulnerable — as she's said herself, it centers around her divorce from entrepreneur Simon Konecki — which resulted in her most raw and powerful work yet.
Considering Ed Sheeran’s extensive touring schedule that had the singer/songwriter on the road until the end of August 2019, it was almost hard to believe it had been four years since his last album. Surely some Sheerios felt the agony, but it was worth the wait: =, Sheeran's fourth studio album, offered 14 new tracks that expand on the star's signature talents, from heartfelt falsetto to boot-stomping melodies.
In what felt like the day that may never come, Kanye West delivered his tenth album, Donda, in August. The project had seen multiple postponements since its originally scheduled release of July 2020, but perhaps that's because the final product has a whopping 27 songs. While the album leans more into West's hip-hop roots, its impressive roster of guest stars — from The Weeknd to Watch the Throne cohort JAY-Z — offered any kind of Kanye fan something to enjoy.
After such a whirlwind year, one big question stands out as we enter 2022: what's next?