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Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa 

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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Dua Lipa Wins Best New Artist | 2019 GRAMMYs

The popstar takes home Best New Artist at the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 09:27 am

British popstar Dua Lipa just won Best New Artist at the 61st GRAMMY Awards. It is her second win of the night, after "Electricity" won Best Dance Recording, her track with Silk City aka Diplo and Mark Ronson.

"I want to say thank you to my fans who have allowed me to be the best version of myself," Lipa said in her speech.

She bestest her class of fellow talented Best New Artist nominees: Chloe x Halle, Luke Combs, Greta Van Fleet, H.E.R., Margo Price, Bebe Rexha and Jorja Smith.

As a first-time nominee she had a great night, taking home wins for both of her nods. She also made her GRAMMY stage performance debut, offering a sultry duet with fellow GRAMMY winner St. Vincent.

More: Dua Lipa Reflects On Her Journey To Pop Stardom: "Absolutely Mental"

23-year-old Lipa was born in London to Albanian parents. Her viral hit "New Rules," from her 2017 self-titled debut album, with its catchy and empowering lyrics put her firmly on the pop culture map.

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards

Billie Eilish performs at Lollapalooza Chile 2023.
Billie Eilish performs at Lollapalooza Chile 2023

Photo: Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images

feature

The Environmental Impact Of Touring: How Scientists, Musicians & Nonprofits Are Trying To Shrink Concerts' Carbon Footprint

"It’s not just [about] a single tour, it’s every tour," singer Brittany Howard says of efforts to make concerts more sustainable. From the nonprofit that partnered with Billie Eilish, to an MIT initiative, the music industry aims to curb climate change.

GRAMMYs/Jun 10, 2024 - 01:30 pm

Beloved by fans around the globe, yet increasingly unaffordable for many artists, concert tours are central to the world of entertainment and local economies. After the pandemic-era global shuttering of concert venues large and small, tours are back, and bigger than ever.  

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is smashing records, selling more than four million tickets and earning more than $1 billion. But that tour made headlines for another reason: as reported in Business Insider and other outlets, for a six-month period in 2023, Swift’s two jets spent a combined 166 hours in the air between concerts, shuttling at most a total of 28 passengers. 

Against that backdrop, heightened concerns about the global environmental cost of concert touring have led a number of prominent artists to launch initiatives. Those efforts seek both to mitigate the negative effects of touring and communicate messages about sustainability to concertgoers. 

A 2023 study sponsored by Texas-based electricity provider Payless Power found that the carbon footprint of many touring bands was massive. In 2022, concert tours in five genres — country, classic rock, hip-hop/rap, metal and pop — were responsible for CO2 emissions totaling nearly 45,000 metric tons. A so-called greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide contributes to climate change by radiative forcing; increased levels of CO2 also contribute to health problems.  

No serious discussion of climate issues suggests a worldwide halt to live music touring, but there exists much room for improvement. Both on their own and with the help of dedicated nonprofit organizations, many artists are taking positive steps toward mitigating the deleterious effects that touring exerts upon the environment.  

Smart tour planning is one way to lessen an artist’s carbon footprint. Ed Sheeran’s 2022 European run minimized flights between concert venues, making that leg of his tour the year's most environmentally efficient. Total carbon dioxide emissions (from flights and driving) on Sheeran’s tour came to less than 150 metric tons. In contrast, Dua Lipa’s tour during the same period generated 12 times as much — more than 1800 metric tons — of CO2 

In July, singer/songwriter and four-time GRAMMY nominee Jewel will embark on her first major tour in several years, alongside GRAMMY winner Melissa Etheridge. During the planning stage for the 28-city tour, Jewel suggested an idea that could reduce the tour’s carbon footprint.

"I always thought it was so silly and so wasteful — and so carbon footprint-negative — to have separate trucks, separate lighting, separate crews, separate hotel rooms, separate costs," Jewel says. She pitched the idea of sharing a backing band with Etheridge. "I’ve been trying to do this for 25 years," Jewel says with a laugh. "Melissa is the first person who took me up on it!" 

The changes will not only reduce the tour’s carbon footprint, but they’ll also lessen the cost of taking the shows on the road. Acknowledging that there are many opportunities to meet the challenges of touring’s negative impact upon the environment, Jewel emphasizes that “you have to find [solutions] that work for you.”

Sheeran and Jewel aren’t the only popular artists trying to make a difference. A number of high profile artists have become actively involved in creating the momentum for positive change. Those artists believe that their work on sustainability issues goes hand in hand with their role as public figures. Their efforts take two primary forms: making changes themselves, andadvocating for action among their fans.  

The Climate Machine 

Norhan Bayomi is an Egypt-born environmental scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a key member of the Environmental Solutions Initiative, a program launched to address sustainable climate action. She’s also a recording artist in the trance genre, working under the name Nourey 

The ESI collaborates with industry heavyweights Live Nation, Warner Music Group and others as well with touring/recording acts like Coldplay to examine the carbon footprint of the music industry. A key component of the ESI is the Climate Machine, a collaborative research group that seeks to help the live music industry reduce carbon emissions. "As a research institution, we bring technologies and analytics to understand, in the best way possible, the actual impact of the music industry upon climate change," says John Fernández, Director of the ESI.  

"I’m very interested in exploring ways that we can bridge between environmental science, climate change and music fans," Bayomi says. She explains that the tools at the ESI’s disposal include "virtual reality, augmented reality and generative AI," media forms that can communicate messages to music fans and concertgoers. Fernández says that those endeavors are aimed at "enlisting, enabling and inspiring people to get engaged in climate change." 

The Environmental Solutions Initiative cites Coldplay as a high-profile success. The band and its management issued an "Emissions Update" document in June 2024, outlining its success at achieving their goal of reducing direct carbon emissions from show production, freight, band and crew travel. The established target was a 50 percent cut in emissions compared to Coldplay’s previous tour; the final result was a 59 percent reduction between their 2022-23 tour and 2016-17 tour.  

A significant part of that reduction came as a result of a renewable-energy based battery system that powers audio and lights. The emissions data in the update was reviewed and independently validated by MIT’s Fernández.  

Change Is Reverberating 

Guitarist Adam Gardner is a founding member of Massachusetts-based indie rockers Guster, but he's more than just a singer in a rock band. Gardner is also the co-founder of REVERB, one of the organizations at the forefront of developing and implementing climate-focused sustainability initiatives.  

Founded in 2004 by Gardner and his wife, environmental activist Lauren Sullivan, REVERB  began with a goal of making touring more sustainable; over the years its focus has expanded to promote industry-wide changes. Today, the organization promotes sustainability throughout the industry  in partnership with music artists, concert venues and festivals.  

REVERB initiatives have included efforts to eliminate single-use plastics at the California Roots Music & Arts Festival, clean energy projects in cooperation with Willie Nelson and Billie Eilish, and efforts with other major artists. Gardner has seen sustainability efforts grow over two decades 

"It’s really amazing to see the [change] with artists, with venues, with fans," Gardner says. "Today, people are not just giving lip service to sustainable efforts; they really want to do things that are real and measurable."  

The Music Decarbonization Project is one tangible example of REVERB’s successes. "Diesel power is one of the dirtiest sources of power," Gardner explains. "And it’s an industry standard to power festival stages with diesel generators." Working with Willie Nelson, the organization helped switch the power sources at his annual Luck Reunion to clean energy. At last year’s festival, Nelson’s headlining stage drew 100 percent of its power from solar-powered batteries. "We set up a temporary solar farm," Gardner says, "and the main stage didn’t have to use any diesel power."  

Billie Eilish was another early supporter of the initiative. "She helped us launch the program," Gardner says. Eilish’s set at Lollapallooza 2023 drew power from solar batteries, too.  

With such high-profile successes as a backdrop, Gardner believes that REVERB is poised to do even more to foster sustainable concerts and touring. "Our role now," he says, "isn’t just, ‘Hey, think about this stuff.’ It’s more how do we push farther, faster?"  

Adam Gardner believes that musicians are uniquely positioned to help make a difference where issues of sustainability are concerned. "When you’re a musician, you’re connecting with fans heart-to-heart. That’s what moves people. And that’s where the good stuff happens."  

Small-scale, individual changes can make a difference — especially when they’re coordinated and amplified among other concertgoers. Gardner provides real-world examples. "Instead of buying a plastic bottle, I brought my reusable and filled it up. Maybe I carpooled to the show." Conceding that such steps might seem like drops of water in a giant pool, he emphasizes the power of scale. "When you actually multiply [those things for] just one summer tour, it adds up," he says. "And it reminds people, ‘You’re not alone in this; you’re part of a community that’s taking action."  

Gardner understands that REVERB’s arguments have to be framed the right way to reach concertgoers. "Look," he admits, "It’s a concert. We’re not here to be a buzzkill. Our [aim] now is making sure people don’t lose hope." He says that REVERB and its partners seek to demonstrate that, with collective action and cultural change, there is reason for optimism.  

"There’s a wonderful feedback loop between hope and action," Gardner says with a smile. "You can’t really have one without the other."  

Sustainable Partnerships 

Tanner Watt is Director of Partnerships at REVERB; he works directly with touring artists to develop, coordinate and implement initiatives that bring together his organization’s objectives and the specific personal concerns of the artists. "I get to come up with all the fun, big ideas," he says with a wide smile.  

Watt acknowledges that like every concertgoer, each touring artist has a certain level of responsibility where sustainability is concerned. "And everyone can be doing something," he says, noting a number of straightforward actions that artists can put in place while on tour. "They can eliminate single-use waste. They can donate hotel toiletries that [would otherwise] hit the landfill."  

Watt stresses that artists can lead by example. "Nobody wants to listen to an artist telling them what to do if they’re not doing it themselves," he says. "But we believe that everybody cares about something." He suggests that if an artist has cultivated a following, "Why not use [that platform] to be that change you want to see in the world?"  

Each artist has his or her own specific areas of concern, but Watt says that there’s a base level of "greening" that takes place on every REVERB-affiliated tour. Where things go from there is up to the artist, in coordination with REVERB. Watt mentions Billie Eilish and her tour’s sustainability commitment. "The Venn diagram of food security, community health, access to healthy food, and the impact on the planet is a big cause for her," he says. "So there’s plant-based catering for her entire crew, across the entire tour." 

Speaking to Billboard, Eilish's mother Maggie Baird said championing sustainability starts with artists. "If artists are interested, it does really start with them telling their teams that they care and that it’s foremost in their thoughts." In the same conversation, Eilish called the battle for sustainability "a never-ending f–king fight."  

Watt acknowledges that with so many challenges, it’s important for a concerned artist to focus on the issues that move them the most, and where they can make the biggest difference. "Jack Johnson is a great example," he says. While Johnson is a vocal advocate for many environmental issues, on tour he focuses on two (in Watt’s words) "cause umbrellas": single-use plastics solutions and sustainable community food systems. Each show on the tour hosts tables representing local nonprofit organizations, presenting concertgoers with real-world, human-scale solutions to those specific challenges.  

Four-time GRAMMY winner Brittany Howard is another passionate REVERB partner. "Knowing that I wanted to make my tours more sustainable was a start," she tells GRAMMY.com, "but working with REVERB really helped me bring it to life on the road. REVERB has helped us with guidelines and a green rider to keep our stage, greenrooms and buses more sustainable." 

After listing several other specific ways that her tour supports sustainability, Howard notes, "By supporting these efforts, I am helping ensure future generations have access to clean water, fish, and all that I love about the outdoors." A dollar from every ticket sold to a Brittany Howard concert goes toward support of REVERB’s Music Decarbonization project. "I’m also excited to see industry-wide efforts that are reducing the carbon pollution of live music," Howard continues. "Because it’s not just [about] a single tour, it’s every tour." 

There’s a popular aphorism: "You can’t manage what you can’t measure." From its start, REVERB has sought not only to promote change, but to measure its success. "As long as I’ve been at REVERB, we’ve issued impact reports," says Tanner Watt. "We include data points, and give the report to the artists so they understand what we’ve done together." He admits that some successes are more tangible than others, but that it’s helpful to focus on the ones that can be quantified. "We’re very excited that our artists share those with their fans."  

Watt is clear-eyed at the challenges that remain. "Even the word ‘sustainable’ can be misleading," he concedes, suggesting that the only truly sustainable tour is the one that doesn’t happen. "But if folks don’t step it up and change the way we do business in every industry — not just ours — we’re going to get to a place where we’re forced to make sacrifices that aren’t painless." Getting that message across is REVERB’s aim. "We can’t stop the world," Watt says. "So we find ways to approach these things positively."  

Watt says that the fans at concerts featuring Jack Johnson and the Dave Matthews Band — both longtime REVERB partners — are already on board with many of the sustainability-focused initiatives which those artists promote. "But there are lots of artists — and lots of fan bases — out there that aren’t messaged to, or have been mis-messaged to," he says. "I’m really excited to find more ways to expand our reach to them, beyond mainstream pop music. Because these are conversations that are meaningful for everyone, regardless of political affiliation or other beliefs."  

Reimagining The Planet’s Future 

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Met does more than front AJR, the indie pop trio he founded in 2005 with brothers Jack and Ryan. Met has a PhD in sustainable development and is a climate activist; he's also the founder/Executive Director of Planet Reimagined, a nonprofit that promotes sustainability and activism through its work with businesses, other organizations and musicians.  

"I’ve spent years traveling around the world, seeing the direct impact of climate change," Met says. He cites two recent and stark examples. "When we pulled up to a venue in San Francisco, the band had to wear gas masks going from the bus into the venue, because of forest fires," he says. AJR’s road crew had to contend with a flash flood in Athens, Greece that washed out their hotel. "And in Rome, some of our crew members fainted because of the heat."  

Encouraged by representatives from the United Nations, Met launched Planet Reimagined. Met’s approach focuses on tailored, city-specific actions to empower fans and amplify diverse voices in the climate movement. Through social media and live shows, Met strives to galvanize climate activism among AJR fans. And the methods he has developed can be implemented by other touring artists.  

Met points out that one of the most climate-unfriendly parts of the entire concert tour enterprise is fans traveling to and from the concerts. And that’s something over which the artist has little or no control. What they can do, he says, is try to educate and influence. Working closely with Ticketmaster and other stakeholders, Met’s nonprofit initiated a study — conducted from July to December 2023, with results published in April 2024 — to explore the energy that happens at concerts. "In sociology," he explains, "that energy is called collective effervescence." The study’s goal is to find ways to channel that energy toward advocacy and action.  

Polling a quarter million concertgoers across musical genres, the study collected data on attitudes about climate change. "Seventy-three percent of fans who attend concerts believe that climate change is real, and that we need to be doing more about it," Met says. "Seventy-eight percent have already taken some sort of action in their lives." He believes that if his organization can activate even a fraction of the estimated 250 million people annually who attend concerts around the globe, "that’s the ballgame."  

Met’s goal is to do more than, say, get concertgoers to switch from plastic to paper drinking straws. "At scale those things make a difference. But people want to see actions where there’s a track record," he says; a return on investment.  

AJR will be putting a plan into action on the second half of their upcoming arena tour. Part of the initiative is encouraging concertgoers to register to vote, and then actually vote. Beyond that, Met has specific actions in mind. "At every single stop, we’re putting together materials around specific policies that are being debated at the local level," he explains. "We give people a script right there, so they can call their elected representative and say, ‘I want you to vote [a certain way on this issue].’"  

He believes the initiative will lead to thousands of people contacting – and hopefully influencing – their representatives. With regard to sustainability issues, Met is convinced that "the most impact that you can have as an artist is when you give fans ways to pick up the mantle themselves." 

Artists Who Are Going On Tour In 2024: The Rolling Stones, Drake, Olivia Rodrigo & More 

 

Danny L Harle attends Last Days Opera After Party at Chateau Marmont on February 06, 2024 in Los Angeles
Danny L Harle

Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Photonia

interview

Danny L Harle's Quest For Pop Euphoria: How Working With Dua Lipa Led To A New Level Of Creative Joy

The songwriter and producer talks about crafting Dua Lipa’s ‘Radical Optimism’ and the UK’s Eurovision entry for 2024. "It was all about making space for the great emotion of the song," Harle says.

GRAMMYs/May 6, 2024 - 01:51 pm

**"I’ve got an obsessive mind," admits producer Danny L Harle. "I often can't sleep at night because I've got melodies circling in my head. I get haunted by melodies, and I think that's why some people trust me, because they know that I will not let it go unless I think it's absolutely perfect."

That dedication to crafting powerful pop melodies has resulted in a treasure trove of earworms on Dua Lipa’s new album Radical Optimism. Harle was recruited by Lipa as one of the album’s co-producers, alongside Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and songwriters Tobias Jesso Jr and Caroline Ailin.

It's no surprise that Harle was recruited to craft a record that seeks to find light and happiness where darkness prevails. Since his 2015 debut EP Broken Flowers, Harle has created dance-pop that examined the relationship between melancholia and euphoria, as well as the grandeur and escapism of a rave. 

After releasing a string of singles via PC Music, Harle dropped his first album, Harlecore, in 2021 with Mad Decent. The ecstatic spirit of Harlecore, which is centered around a virtual rave headed by four imaginary DJs, echoes in Harle’s latest collaboration as co-writer and producer of the UK’s Eurovision song, "Dizzy" by Olly Alexander. 

"There is good pop music and more algorithmic pop music, pop music which is more guaranteed to work and is less interesting," Harle says. "I just really like good pop music, and that, for me, always seems to start from my research with people."

It was Harle’s naturally synergistic approach to collaboration that led to his work with Lipa. He has also worked with yeule on their album Glitch Princess, and the likes of Charli XCX. But it was his production and writing on  singer Caroline Polachek's  debut solo album that caught Dua Lipa's ear. "She appreciated the spirit of collaboration with that album and wanted me to make her album."

Read below to get a taste of how Danny Harle made Radical Optimism and other earwormy, dancefloor hits.  

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Hey Danny! What’s that cool instrument behind you?

It’s an electric double bass, which is my main instrument: bass guitar and double bass. I use that on some of the Caroline Polachek stuff. There's certain artists who come into the room and see that and they're like, "We have to use that." And some people try to pretend it doesn't exist.

It’s fascinating; I used to play that instrument when I was younger, and then gave it up. There was a 10 year gap, and then I found a place much later in my life where it could fit in. I stopped playing bass guitar at one point as well. 

Then I found myself in a session with NAO, and she was like, "Can you play bass guitar?" There was one literally on display outside, the Squire bass, so I picked it up and we made a track together. She was in a session with Nile Rodgers the next day playing it to him, and he loved it, and then it was on the Chic album [It’s About Time]! At that point I lost any preconceptions I had about needing good gear to make a great sounding music.

Did you do a lot of the bass work on Dua’s album?

I did a fair amount of it, but a lot of it is a collaboration with me and Kevin Parker. All that time he's spent touring and playing the bass live is time that I've spent in front of a computer. So it's hard to compare bass skills, as much as it's my instrument. 

Alongside being a great live player, Kevin has a particular skill for making an instrument sound great when it is recorded, which is a completely different thing. There were some times where I was like, "I prefer the way that it sounds when you do it." And then sometimes he would ask me to do it as well. It was a really nice, trusting partnership. 

The process of the album was very trusting; a sense of being able to say when you think something could be better, but also understanding that trusting someone else is good at what they're doing. It was a very rare environment, but the atmosphere of respect and trust was quite an incredible thing to experience. If you hear what anybody says involved in that process, they'll say those are some of the best sessions they’ve ever had in that respect. 

We were talking about this key Motown idea, which is that happy songs go best over a sad melody. It doesn’t have to be the melody, it can be the music sounding sad; "Tears Of A Clown" by Smokey Robinson is a good example. There's something very resonant in that combination. 

"Houdini," "Training Season" and "Illusion" are all in minor keys, aren’t they? It makes for such melodically rich stuff that’s different from your average four chord pop progression.

Yup. It’s not as simple as happy song, happy chords. It adds richness to the emotional landscape of the song, and that was a key element in that. 

It was a room full of people who are excited by hearing new melodies and approaches and structures. That’s why you don’t really hear the same melodic patterns that music’s fallen into these days on the album. I find that particularly inspiring. 

You’ve written with stars like Charli XCX and Rina Sawayama before, but this is your first extended project with a pop star. You first made pop music to engage people as a virtually unknown musician, but now that attention is guaranteed. Did that change the way you think about pop?

Not at all. My approach to this stuff, especially these days, is that I can just do my thing. I'm very honored to work with the people I've been working with. Very early on in my career when I was trying to make pop music in that way, it would always go horribly wrong. Whereas now I just try to make good music. 

Some people can just make a pop song and I can't do that. I'm like, "Let's make a good song." I personally believe that there is good pop music and more algorithmic pop music, pop music which is more guaranteed to work and is less interesting. I just really like good pop music, and that, for me, always seems to start from my research with people just trying to make the best music. 

How did you make this record more personal to Dua in terms of influences and not just lyrically?

It all stems from her at the center of it; so much stuff happens to her. It’s insane, the amount she’d have to say before every session — [like] "These tracks are actually making points." 

Then it would be a case of finding an instrumental with a certain emotion, and out of natural conversation, there’d be a sense of connection [from] a phrase someone would hit on. [But] it would always stem from her as the center of the whole thing. It was just a very organic way of writing and we were very privileged with the rich life Dua leads to draw from. 

This record was a tight songwriting team — where did you fit into it?

I was contributing to all of the tracks in all factors: lyric ideas most rarely, but also melodic ideas, songwriting ideas, mainly from a production standpoint.  

I would be in the corner on my computer, and I would constantly be in conversation with everybody. We might have Kevin on a guitar, and then I’d be making some electronic arpeggios to go with that. I’d be constantly AirDropping stuff to Cam Gower, the greatest vocal engineer in the world, and he would be stacking what we had in ProTools. Sometimes I would take Cam’s session and put it into my computer — like with ‘Illusion’, because there’s stuff that goes on that affects the whole track in a way that I needed to do to get that dancey feel. 

It's quite a global, almost old-fashioned producer role I was taking. I think that was a valuable thing for Dua in certain cases, because I would know about every song on the album. If we were writing with new writers, I'd be like, ‘we already said this idea in that song.’ I would have an eye on the whole thing and be a soundboard for the overall project. 

Let’s start with the opening track, "End Of An Era" is unexpectedly calming and gentle. What prompted you guys to make this the opener?

I just love the idea of starting an album with the track called "End Of An Era"; it is quite an alarming thing to see. I love the tone of the track, the joy of it, but also the fairy-godmother-style commentary going over it as well. 

It's about that heart-eyes emoji feeling of knowing you're irrationally in love in the moment where you rethink everything about your life. I just thought the emotion fit really well. The album has a story to it, and it's a great opener for that story.  

The track "These Walls" expands Dua’s voice in a way I haven’t heard her sing before. Could you walk me through the production of that song?

With that song, I didn't want to get in the way of the purity of the message. It’s very important to understand when a track does not need to be a production showcase, you are in service of the storytelling. 

It was all about making space for the great emotion of the song and having occasional moments of departure, and always being relevant to what is being said. When she says "Did you really mean it when you said forever?", the track disappears into a strange fantasy synth moment. That idea is [that] your mind might get taken away by the thought of forever, just for a moment, as a sort of impossible idea. That's what the music's doing — it takes you out and it lands you straight back into the track.

There’s also a moment of self-deprecating humor: "If these walls could talk / they’d say you’re f—ed.". Was that humor fostered by the close relationship all the songwriters had?

Absolutely. That kind of thing is often the most memorable bit of a song, if placed correctly in the most tasteful area. There’s a track on the yeule album Glitch Princess, where it’s these big Charles Ives chords I wrote. It sounds like it’s gonna be a nice piano ballad, but the first line is "feels like s—." [Laughs.] It takes you by surprise, but it fits with the mood of the track. 

With Dua, it’s tastefully placing it where it fits in the story, and that point in the chorus, it felt perfect. It also reminds me of this idea in the [software] engineering world: the rubber duck principle. They have a rubber duck there because engineers will want to ask a question, but often when you’re asking the question, you’ll realize the answer to it. The rubber duck is there so you can ask the question and it’ll tell you the answer because you already knew it. ‘These Walls’ reminds me of that; if these walls are saying I’m f—ed, you know you’re f—ed. 

The climax of the album is "Falling Forever." It’s super ballsy, and the drums are mixed so loudly. Tell me about how this track came to be.

It’s a beautiful one, that one. A great thinker said it sounds like a thousand galloping horses. That one came about in the sessions with [producer and songwriter] Ian Kirkpatrick. He came in with the chords you hear at the beginning, and I really enjoyed the idea of having a galloping rhythm. You don’t hear the gallop very often, I can’t think of one other song that’s done that in recent history. 

I also thought up the "how long" thing — I thought it would be fun to make the word ‘long’ really long. Those were my key contributions to the song. Ian Kirkpatrick, his drums are so fantastic. You’ve gotta let him get on with it. 

The vocals are also so close there’s subtler production going on earlier in the album, but this song punches you right in the face.

It’s so great. It’s very much an approach that I have with singers where I want them to do a thing that makes their voice sound f—ing amazing. The first time I thought I achieved that with Caroline was with "Parachute," using everything her voice can do: the runs, the high register, the emotional low register. This is a showcase. "Falling Forever" does that with Dua. "These Walls" is an interesting comparison as well, it shows a real range of emotion that Dua is capable of in a way I find really exciting. 

It’s indescribable to hear her sing in the room. I had the privilege of having her recording demo vocals on an SM-7 [microphone] like this sitting in front of her. It is unbelievable to hear that: just a human making that sound in front of you, it’s like nothing else. It’s like witnessing a wonder of the world. Also to use the specific, occasionally metallic sound she can make with her voice, to use it when necessary as part of an expression of something, the way she phrases things is incredible as well. 

Does the message of Radical Optimism — of finding grace in the chaos — match the euphoria you want to explore in music?

There is a sense of melancholic euphoria as well, the Elizabethan side of things. I would say there's a Venn diagram of euphoria that fits with Dua. 

On the track "Happy For You," there are certain ravey things going on where Dua was like, "What’s that sound?" It’s these chords Kevin wrote, and I start stuttering them. 

Also the flute mellotron in the song "Maria," she was immediately like, "Yep: I love it." I was so happy because it’s so my thing, that cyclical melody. Also, the bit in "Illusions" before the chorus where it goes to a major chord before the chorus, I love the sound of the unexpected major chord. Having repeated moments like that, I think, was the reason why I was asked to stay on the project; we clearly had chemistry, but it was interesting how macro it was. 

That unexpected major chord moment also appears in your Eurovision song with Olly Alexander, doesn’t it?

I've written some more tracks with him that do that. I've really been enjoying that with Olly because his voice is so agile and can really make sense of more complicated chord sequences. 

Another thing I've been enjoying with him is when there's sparseness and letting the vocal melody spell out the harmony and maybe occasionally go minor and major over one bass note, which is something I really, really enjoy. 

I've always been a big fan of Olly Alexander, I’ve wanted to work with him my whole career. I believe I tweeted at him in 2009 saying hi. But I think people who like my stuff could hear that he has the kind of voice that I really like: a very virtuosic, melodic voice. [We] just had immediate chemistry, musically. We've written a fair amount of music and he’s a very exciting artist to be involved with. 

The UK has a pretty shaky track record with Eurovision. Did you feel any of that pressure?

No, there wasn't that thing in my head. I just love Olly’s voice. And collaborating with him is just fantastic. I've had ideas for Olly for years now, and it was a dream to be able to actually enact some of them.

What’s next in store for you?

My own album. I've got another one that I'm finishing up at the minute that I'm very excited about. It was delayed by two and a half years because I got all of my dream projects offered to me at the same time and I wanted to make sure that I did them all properly. But now I can get back to doing my own stuff. 

It feels so good to be back at the grindstone, sitting in my studio writing beautiful things, making beautiful objects to present to the world. It’s the dream, really.

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Dua Lipa at the 2024 GRAMMYs
Dua Lipa at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Dua Lipa Is Confidently In Love On 'Radical Optimism': 4 Takeaways From The New Album

As Dua Lipa continues the dance party she started in 2017, her third studio album sees the pop star more assured — and more starry-eyed — than ever before.

GRAMMYs/May 3, 2024 - 03:13 pm

As someone who has dedicated her life to being a performer, Dua Lipa's recent admission to Apple Music's Zane Lowe seems almost unfathomable: "I never thought of the idea of being famous."

Stardom may not have been on her mind as a kid, but Lipa is now, indeed, one of the most famous pop stars on the planet as she releases her highly anticipated third album, Radical Optimism

In the seven years since her acclaimed 2017 self-titled debut, Lipa has achieved several highs — like three GRAMMY wins, including Best New Artist in 2019 — as well as the subsequent lows that can often come with global stardom. And though the singer also admitted to Lowe that it "took me a while to find my voice," Radical Optimism is her most self-assured album yet — one that hinges on the title being not only the project's name, but also its defining approach to Lipa's present-day vision for her life.

"Radical Optimism and the way that I see it is this idea of rolling with the punches, of not letting anything get you down for too long. Of always seeing the positive side of things. Of being able to grow and move forward and change your perspective regardless of what's happening in your life…I think it's a big part of maturing and growing up."

The entire album was crafted in her native London over the course of a year-and-a-half, with Lipa enlisting a small band of collaborators — including her righthand co-writer Caroline Ailin, Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, Danny L. Harle and Tobias Jesso, Jr. — to create a cohesive, buoyant body of work tinged with disco, funk and bits of psychedelic pop.

Naturally, "radical optimism" is a core thread that runs through all eleven songs as Lipa reflects on falling in and out of love, grapples with her fame and confidently declares that everything that came before Radical Optimism was just a practice run. After all, as she brazenly declares on the LP's second single, "Training season's over." 

As you enter Dua's latest musical world, dive into four major takeaways from Radical Optimism below.

Radical Optimism Isn't Just A New Era — It's A Whole New Perspective

When Lipa accepted her GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Album in 2021, she declared she was officially done with the "sad music" that had fueled her breakout debut album. And if 2020's Future Nostalgia was, in context, a kind of clubby, '80s-driven turning point for the artist, she fully embraces the Radical Optimism promised by its follow-up's title. Lipa's newfound attitude is both clear-eyed and relentlessly positive across the album's 11 tracks, whether she's gushing over a new love on giddy opener "End of an Era," being kept up all night by thoughts of a seductive crush on "Whatcha Doing" or cutting her losses and ditching out early on the spellbinding "French Exit."

Even "These Walls," on which she watches a doomed relationship fade to black, is approached with a sense of inevitability laced with clarity and astute kindness. "But if these walls could talk/ They'd say enough, they'd say give up/ If these walls could talk/ They'd say/ You know you're f—ed/ It's not supposed to hurt this much/ Oh, if these walls could talk/ They tell us to break up," Lipa sings over gossamer production and a piano line by Andrew Wyatt.

You Can Still Find Her On The Dance Floor

The rollout for Radical Optimism was front-loaded with the release of three singles ahead of the full album in the form of "Houdini," "Training Season" and "Illusion." Between the three subsequent music videos and a thrilling live performance at the 2024 GRAMMYs in February, Lipa signaled that her third LP would be filled with her signature style of scintillating dance floor bangers.

The rest of the album more than delivers on that promise, with an overall BPM that rarely falls below what's needed for a full-blown aerobic workout — perfect for over-the-top choreography, of course. And in case the Service95 founder's commitment to the dance floor isn't already apparent, just look at the history-making hat trick she recently pulled off on the Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart: as of press time, "Houdini," "Illusion" and "Training Season" occupied the top three spots, marking a first for any female artist in modern music history.

She's Redefining Love On Her Own Terms

If the litany of love songs on Radical Optimism are any indication, it's safe to say Lipa is head over heels these days (with boyfriend Callum Turner, perhaps?). Opening track "End of an Era" may mark the beginning of a new musical journey for the singer, but it's just as much about the thrill of a new relationship. Later on the track list, she uses album cut "Falling Forever" to grow an initial spark of infatuation into a red-hot love affair as she yearns, "How long, how long/ Can it just keep getting better?/ Can we keep falling forever" on the lovestruck chorus.

Lipa also makes it clear on the shapeshifting highlight "Anything For Love" that she's "not interested in a love that gives up so easily." As she refuses to accept the modern paradigm of ghosting, non-committal situationships and running away when things get hard, the song morphs from a tender piano ballad into danceable, mid-tempo groove, giving the listener just enough breathing room to wrestle with the questions of what kind of love they'll accept before dancing it out.

She's Putting Her Emotional Growth On Full Display

It's been almost seven years since Lipa spelled out her "New Rules" for a generation of pop lovers, and some of the most affecting cuts on Radical Optimism prove the British-Albanian star has accrued even more hard-won wisdom since her early days of "If you're under him, you ain't gettin' over him."

Penultimate track "Maria" finds Lipa thanking the ghost of her current lover's ex-girlfriend for making him a better man: "Never thought I could feel this way/ Grateful for all the love you gave/ Here's to the lovers that make you change/ Maria, Maria, Maria." 

Meanwhile, on album closer "Happy for You," the singer turns her attention not to a lover's ex-girlfriend, but to an ex who's moved on from her and found himself happier than ever. It's a complex, but decidedly mature feeling to realize you're genuinely happy for someone you used to love, but Lipa encapsulates the emotion perfectly. 

"Oh, I must've loved you more than I ever knew/ Didn't know I could ever feel/ 'Cause I'm happy for you," she sings on the chorus. "Now I know everything was real/ I'm not mad, I'm not hurt/ You got everything you deserve/ Oh, I must've loved you more than I ever knew/ I'm happy for you."

The grown-up sentiment finishes the album on a bittersweet emotional high — proving that no matter what life throws at her, Lipa will remain radically and unapologetically optimistic to the end. 

GRAMMY Rewind: Dua Lipa Champions Happiness As She Accepts Her GRAMMY For Best Pop Vocal Album In 2021

Dua Lipa performing at 2024 Time 100 gala
Dua Lipa performs at the 2024 TIME100 Gala in New York City.

Photo: Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

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Dua Lipa's Road To 'Radical Optimism': How Finding The Joy In Every Moment Helped Her Become Pop's Dance Floor Queen

Four years after 'Future Nostalgia,' Dua Lipa's third album is finally upon us. Look back on her journey to 'Radical Optimism,' and how it's the result of the pop megastar's evolving quest for new ways to celebrate each moment.

GRAMMYs/May 2, 2024 - 01:52 pm

Long before Dua Lipa reached pop megastardom, she declared the mantra that would soon become the core of her art: "It has to be fun."

Whether in club-hopping evenings or tear-streaked mornings, Lipa has continuously found a way to bring catharsis and movement into every moment — and, subsequently, every song she's released. So when she announced that her new album would be called Radical Optimism, the second word seemed obvious. But what would radical mean for Dua Lipa, and how did she get there?

Considering her time as a model prior to her music career taking off, many found it easy to write off the London-born singer as by-the-books pop, all-image artist. But even before taking a listen to her self-titled debut, Lipa's upbringing reveals far more complex feelings and inspirations.

The daughter of Kosovo Albanian parents living in London, Lipa took notes from her musician father, digging deep on the likes of the Police, David Bowie and Radiohead, while dancing to Ciara and Missy Elliott with her classmates. After a four-year stint in Kosovo when her family relocated, the then 15-year-old Dua moved back to London to stay with a family friend and build towards an inevitable music-oriented life, which began with clubbing incessantly and posting covers of Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera on YouTube.

Lipa was still working in restaurants when she first made contact with the music industry, burning the candle at both ends — as well as a third end unseen to mortals. "I'd finish work, then go out to whatever nightclub was happening until, like, 3 in the morning," she recently recalled to Elle. "Then I would wake up and go to the studio until I had my shift again at, like, 8 pm."

Warner Bros. Records caught wind of those sessions and signed her in 2014, leading to even more time in the studio (and, likely, less waitressing). Her debut single, 2015's "New Love," showcases everything that would lead to her eventual pop takeover: the resonant, sultry vocals, a propulsive beat, and a video full of effortless cool.

There would be seven more singles to follow from 2017's Dua Lipa, with the budding pop star co-writing a majority of the albums' tracks, alt R&B icon Miguel collaborating on a song, and Coldplay's Chris Martin providing additional vocals on the closer. While there are plenty of hits to take away ("Blow Your Mind (Mwah)" is a particular favorite in its grand and stompy disco sass), the true star here is "New Rules." Detailing the "rules" to avoid a problematic ex, the song could be cloying and twee, but Lipa's chill swagger sells the dance floor intensity and female empowerment in equal doses.

Listeners around the world agreed, as the song marked Lipa's first No. 1 in the UK and several other countries, as well as her first top 10 hit in the U.S. It also earned Lipa spots at festivals, a performance on Later… With Jools Holland, and five nominations at the 2018 Brit Awards — the most of any artist that year. She laid out a pretty clear manifesto after winning British Female Solo Artist: "Here's to more women on these stages, more women winning awards, and more women taking over the world."

As that year went on, Lipa solidified her own role in that mission. She became a hot collaboration commodity, first linking with Calvin Harris for the UK chart-topping "One Kiss"; then teaming with Mark Ronson and Diplo's Silk City for another club hit, "Electricity"; and even being recruited for Andrea Bocelli for "If Only," a track on his 2018 album, . Her breakthrough was cemented in GRAMMY gold at the 2019 ceremony, too, as she won two golden gramophones: Best Dance Recording for "Electricity," and the coveted Best New Artist.

Early word of the Dua Lipa followup, Future Nostalgia, was that Lipa was amping the disco energy. "[The album] feels like a dancercise class," she hinted in July 2019 to the BBC, who also reported that the now full-fledged pop star was working with Pharrell, Nile Rodgers, Tove Lo, and Diplo.

Lead single "Don't Start Now" was co-written with the team behind "New Rules," and the hyper-elastic bass, MIDI strings, and honest-to-goodness cowbell more than lived up to her promise of disco domination. The track went platinum in five countries, a feat that would go on to be topped by multiple tracks on the album, including the smoldering "Physical" and the INXS-interpolating "Break My Heart."

The album's March 2020 release was a thing of anxious beauty. It could've been pure tragedy to release an album designed for sweaty, crowded clubs in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. And when the album leaked a full two weeks prior to its release, even Lipa wasn't sure if her timing was right. "I'm not sure if I'm even doing the right thing, but I think the thing we need the most at the moment is music, and we need joy and we need to be trying to see the light," she said in an Instagram Live days before the album's release.

True to that spirit, Lipa's openhearted enthusiasm and unadulterated fun made the album a staple of lockdown dance parties and wistful dancefloor daydreams. In a bit of chicken-and-egg magic, the album's runaway hit is the inescapable "Levitating." The song's buoyant synth pulse, clap-along disco groove, drippy strings and punchy hook add to something far greater than the sum of its parts. And DaBaby's in-the-cut remix verse helps fulfill Lipa's rap-meets-pop dreams. But it definitely didn't hurt to have the track basically overrun TikTok — and a video produced in partnership with the platform — at a time when we were all stuck at home, looking at our phones as a way to connect with the world.

That was only the beginning of the pop star's effort to make the most of the pandemic era; Lipa continued to find innovative ways to bring fans into her disco-fueled sonic universe for some joy and connection. For one, she evolved Future Nostalgia into a remix album: Club Future Nostalgia, featuring electronic minds like Moodymann and Yaeji, as well as high-profile guests like BLACKPINK, Madonna, and Missy Elliott. And while fans who had grown connected to the album were hungry for an event to attend, she developed Studio 2054. The technicolor, gleeful live-streamed event saw millions of viewers virtually join Lipa in an immaculately choreographed, star-studded dance party — one that further displayed her magnetic personality and in-the-moment attitude.

Through the entire Future Nostalgia era, Lipa's purpose further proved to be more than the music. Yet again, it was about the amount of fun and energy it was able to provide to fans, something that proved to resonate in an even bigger way than her first project.

"[Future Nostalgia] took on its own life. And that in itself showed me that everything is in its own way for its own specific purpose, for its own reason," she told Variety earlier this year. "As long as I'm being of service and the music is there and it's a soundtrack for a moment in time, or in someone's life, then I've done what I was supposed to do."

Before getting to work on her third LP, Lipa kept the dance party going with new and old collaborators. First, she scored another UK No. 1 and U.S. top 10 hit alongside Elton John with "Cold Heart (Pnau remix)"; later, she was enlisted for feel-good singles from Megan Thee Stallion and Calvin Harris' 2022 albums. Then, a reunion with Mark Ronson led to a summer 2023 detour in Barbie land, resulting in another disco-tinged smash, "Dance the Night," for the blockbuster film's soundtrack (as well as her acting debut!).

With the good vibes clearly not fading, Lipa was primed for her next musical venture. In November, she unveiled the lead single to her next project, "Houdini," a swirling track that features a trio of new collaborators — and a brilliant, if seemingly dissimilar, set of co-writers at that: former PC Music electronic experimentalist Danny Harle, Tame Impala frontman (and retro psychedelia mastermind) Kevin Parker, and breezy Canadian singer/songwriter Tobias Jesso Jr. But with her trusty songwriter pal Caroline Ailin also in tow, Lipa retained the same trademark dance pop pulse amid crunchy bass and stomping percussion — putting the Radical into the Optimism.

She kept the same team (and energy) for the album's subsequent singles, "Training Season" and "Illusion." The former thumps and jitters underneath Lipa opting for a willowy falsetto in the chorus, a song that can unite Tame Impala psych addicts and more traditional poptimists at the club. And where earlier Lipa tracks might have been more eager to get to a bright punch, "Illusion" smolders patiently, trusting that the vocalist's charisma can buoy even the subtler moments.

While the album's first three singles carry echoes of the propulsive, dance floor energy of Future Nostalgia, Lipa took more notes from a more modern pop era than the disco days on Radical Optimism. "I think the Britpop element that really came to me was the influences of Oasis and Massive Attack and Portishead and Primal Scream, and the freedom and the energy those records had," she told Variety. "I love the experimentation behind it."

But, she insists, that's not to say that she's produced the next "Wonderwall." This isn't Dua Lipa's Britpop turn, but rather her latest experiment in finding freedom and embracing the moment.

"When I hear 'Teardrop' by Massive Attack and I'm like, 'how did this song even come to be? It feels like it just happened in a moment of real freedom and writing and emotion," she continued in the Variety interview. "And I think that was just the feeling I was trying to convey more than anything."

And in her mind, that freedom needs to remain at the core of everything — whether working through a global pandemic or working on a new project. "I think it's important that we just learn to walk through the fire and not hide away from it, or shy away from it," she added. "That's just optimism. It's probably the most daring thing we can do."

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