Dua Lipa’s distinctive vocals make up for her lack of showmanship
Last year, on her first visit to Manila, Dua Lipa played at a hotel bar, on a small stage before a dozen or so reporters and a handful of fans. She did three songs—all of which rendered bare-bones to give the audience an unadulterated dose of what she had to offer as an emerging singer who had just released her debut album.
Dua has been on a roll since then. Her eponymous record would go on to sell more than a million copies. She became one of the most streamed music acts.
On YouTube, the video of her hit single, “New Rules,” surpassed 1 billion views. And earlier this year, she won the best female solo artist and breakthrough act at the Brit Awards.
Return to PH
Last week, she returned to the country, no longer as an aspiring talent, but as one of today’s hottest pop artists, with a fan base big enough to fill the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“Tonight is about you. Tonight is about the energy in this room that we bring together. Tonight, I want you to be yourself—your authentic and true self. Lose all your inhibitions,” a voice recording echoed through the venue as red lights flashed, as if issuing an emergency reminder. “Be the most unapologetic you… Never listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Let’s dance the night and take tonight’s feelings everywhere you go.”
From behind a curtain wall that showed her silhouette, she began singing “Blow Your Mind” a cappella. And finally, just before the drop of the punchy club ditty’s chorus, the British singer-songwriter emerged, eliciting ear-splitting shrieks from the fans, many of whom came dressed in their idol’s go-to ensemble—crop tops and track pants.
Sense of deliberateness
As a live performer, the 23-year-old pop star has yet to fully hone her showmanship.
She’s not the most natural of dancers or movers onstage. Her choreography—mostly side-to-side shuffles, head bangs, leg wriggles and high kicks—had a sense of deliberateness.
But compared to her earlier outings, it was apparent in this concert (mounted by MMI Live) that Dua has been putting in more effort to maximize the stage and exude more enthusiasm—at one point even pulling off the viral dance move called “the shoot.”
She was most convincing, though, when she took her time, as in her performance of “High” and “Garden,” which had her doing sultry floor work.
While she doesn’t have an electrifying presence (at least for now), Dua makes up for it with her distinctive vocals.
She may not have the expansive range of some of her contemporaries, but Dua has a unique tone, especially in her lower and middle range, that’s deep and rich.
Her slight huskiness also lent itself well in the bluesy ballad “Thinking ’Bout You,” wherein she projected anguish using evocative vocal breaks.
Dua served a robust, 19-song set composed of slick and catchy midtempo album cuts that delve on love, heartbreak, self-empowerment and defiance, including “Be the One,” “Lost in Your Love,” “Hotter Than Hell” and “IDGAF.”
In her closing song, the electro-pop, house-inflected banger “New Rules,” she sang what may very well be her most cheeky and cutting lyrics: “If you’re under him, you ain’t getting over him.”
And just as her opening spiel implored, the crowd did dance and sing their hearts out.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.