Dua Lipa performing in 2018Flickr / Justin Higuchi (https://flic.kr/p/GXDSzb)

Dua Lipa was born to Kosovan parents in London in the summer of 1995. She spent her youth in the UK dreaming of becoming a pop star, a dream that looked to only remain as such when she and her family moved to Kosovo aged 11, but she managed to convince her parents to let her move back to London alone aged 15 to pursue a career in music. After spending much of her teens covering songs by Christina Aguilera and Destiny’s Child on SoundCloud while juggling four A-Levels, Lipa signed a deal with Warner Music Group in 2014, becoming one of very few of their female pop artists. Such a signing provided both parties with an opportunity to make it big in the pop game, especially given Warner’s need to strengthen on the pop front, with then-president Phil Christie saying: “As a modern major label you have to be operating with the broadest possible range. There were some areas we needed to compete in more strongly, and one was pop.”

The music video for Dua Lipa's debut single, "New Love"YouTube / Dua Lipa (https://youtu.be/Nz-dPOjK1gQ)

A string of singles followed from her sparkly 2015 debut “New Love” with “Be The One” and “Hotter than Hell” making waves the following year, particularly when the former became her first UK top 10 as a solo artist and a sleeper hit across continental Europe. In fact, at the time of its ascent into the top 10 of the UK singles chart, Lipa had two other singles in the chart’s top 15. The rise of Lipa coincided with the increasing dominance of streaming as a metric of musical consumption, therefore making it more difficult for labels to carry out traditional album campaigns (which would usually consist of two or three singles followed by an album) that would be successful if there were no hit single preceding its release – a phenomenon that underpins a period of music that we know today as the “streaming era”. This, combined with Lipa’s determination to make sure she got her first body of work perfect led to the label pushing the album back twice, with initial album releases of September 2016 and February 2017 being scrapped in favour of a June release. Luckily, Lipa tallying four top 15 hits in her career at this stage helped generate buzz come release week, giving the album some much-needed momentum that would boost its sales.

“The stellar album did very much show Lipa as a defiant and confident force”

The stellar album did very much show Lipa as a defiant and confident force while also covering all the bases you’d expect on a debut project. Whether it be anthemic songs such as “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” or “New Rules”, catchy pop hooks in songs such as “Begging”, or moments of vulnerability in the piano ballad “Homesick” and downtempo standout “Thinking ’Bout You” providing a more soulful offering to this pop album – at the age of 21, the 12-track standard edition that was on show exuded a swagger of someone beyond Lipa’s youth.

Her debut self-titled album debuted on the UK charts at #5. This could understandably have been viewed as disappointing for both Lipa and the label, both of whom had worked so hard to conjure up a debut album as excellent and hit-packed as it was. However, the success that would soon follow would only throw Lipa into the realm of pop stardom that both she and Warner had craved. She garnered one of the largest audiences at the 2017 Glastonbury Festival only a few weeks after the album’s release, and “New Rules” became her first UK #1 hit the following month (the first solo song by a British female to hit #1 on the chart since Adele’s “Hello” in 2015) and went on to become one of the biggest songs of the 2010s.

“The era culminated in a double-Grammy win for Lipa in early 2019”

Labels have learnt to play the long game in the streaming world, with Warner not giving up on the album they had worked so hard to get into the world and in 2018 they continued to see the benefits of such an investment. “New Rules” continued to smash, reaching the top 10 of the US Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #6, and following the BRIT Awards that year (at which Lipa was the most awarded artist of the night with Stormzy, taking home two awards for Best British Female and Best British Breakthrough), the album and its eighth single “IDGAF” both rose to new peaks of #3 in the UK singles and album chart.


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Touring all of 2018, the success of singles such as Calvin Harris-assisted “One Kiss”, and “Electricity” coupled with a re-release of the album towards the end of the year only bolstered its success further. The era culminated in a double-Grammy win for Lipa in early 2019 as she won Best New Artist and Best Dance Recording for “Electricity”.

It may have been a long road to success for Dua Lipa, but the slew of platinum plaques and awards justified the multi-year album campaign on which she embarked (to such a point that the album is now the most-streamed female album in Spotify history), and made her well positioned for launching into further pop superstardom in the 2020s with one of the finest pop albums of this decade, Future Nostalgia. Not many would have predicted it at the time of release, but Dua Lipa was an introduction to an artist headed for the very top.