When Dua Lipa took home the Grammy Award for Best New Artist last January, I was happy.
And this past week, she came out with “Physical,” a jaw-droppingly good retro-pop banger with a beautiful accompanying music video.
And I can’t stop listening.
The song is phenomenal – it manages to harness the power of ‘80s pop whilst bringing Olivia Newton-John’s original lyric “let’s get physical” into a distinctly 2020 musical landscape. The music video displays a beautiful array of color, choreography and directorial creativity courtesy of Lope Serrano.
I’m currently obsessed with this song. And regardless of whether or not I’m still addicted to its synth lines in a week, I can confirm that it’s really fucking good.
And it’s jarring for me to say that so soon after the song’s release because I’ve never really considered myself to be a Dua Lipa superfan. I laugh along with Twitter memes that call her by the affectionate nickname “Dula Peep,” I’ve frequently joked that her name sounds like the language education app Duolingo and I didn’t really listen much to her self-titled debut album.
I love pop music, but it’s never been my favorite genre. I listen to a lot of artists who’ll receive far fewer Spotify plays on their biggest hits than a little-known Dua deep cut, but I’m still going to advocate for her continued success going forward.
Here’s why: she’s a fantastic example of a celebrity making a positive impact. The English singer-songwriter has rarely shied away from her Kosovo Albanian heritage – for starters, she’s a rare example of a celebrity with eastern European heritage in the western world who hasn’t adopted a stage name.
Lipa started not only a foundation but a music festival dedicated to helping Kosovo prosper – that’s a level of advocacy I don’t see from most popular musicians. As a result, she was the first ever person to receive the keys to Pristina, Kosovo’s capital city. She even called on her fans to donate to relief funds in the wake of November 2019’s Albania earthquake.
That’s a solid amount of advocacy already for someone whose mainstream breakthrough was less than three years ago. And it’s not necessarily a pop star’s responsibility to use their platform or their fame to advance social causes, either. It can be a tricky pitfall – Taylor Swift has been criticized for waiting until a full decade into her career to speak up about politics, but beforehand, she’d been slammed for staying quiet.
Dua Lipa’s only real “scandal” as of late has been her visit to a strip club following the Grammys at an afterparty hosted by Lizzo, but even that felt like a weak trip-up for her successful career. Supporting sex workers shouldn’t be a critiquable offense.
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So I’m all for celebrating the long-awaited arrival of “Don’t Start Now” in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 this week. It’s a sign that Lipa is succeeding – she beat the dreaded “Best New Artist curse” and even came back to present the award at the 2020 Grammys last month.
My Dua hype is now at an all-time high – listening to “Physical” for the first time produced such a reaction that I told my friends I’d be seeing that night that they’d have to listen to the song if they wanted me to hang out with them.
And when “Don’t Start Now” was playing as I walked into Bar 1868 over the weekend, I basically had a mini-meltdown because no one was dancing. And I really, really wanted to dance. (Disclaimer: I still did, just a bit more subtly.)
Point blank, she’s my favorite pop success story of the past five years. I love it when good people thrive. So while I wasn’t a Dua Lipa superfan before the “Future Nostalgia” album cycle began, I might be changing my tune from here on out.