Skip to main content

Enter your email below to be the first to hear about new releases, upcoming events, and more from Dig!

Please enter a valid email address
Please accept the terms
How Dua Lipa’s Debut Album Introduced The Perfect Pop Star
In Depth

How Dua Lipa’s Debut Album Introduced The Perfect Pop Star

A confident mix of R&B, electro-pop, disco and tropical house, Dua Lipa’s self-titled debut album blew minds and made history.

Back

The UK has an impressive track record when it comes to launching female household names. The 90s graced us with the likes of Spice Girls, while the 2000s bought us one of the best female singers of all time in the shape of the late Amy Winehouse. In years to come, when we reflect upon the 2010s, Dua Lipa’s name will roll off the tongue – and it all started here, with her history-making self-titled debut album.

Listen to Dua Lipa’s debut album here.

Refusing to fit the mould

After the frenzy that surrounded the release of her second record, 2020’s Future Nostalgia, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Dua Lipa had made her mark three years earlier. The very definition of a career-defining record, Dua Lipa’s debut album was released on 2 June 2017 and became the most-streamed album by a female artist on Spotify, claiming its place at No.3 in the UK in the process.

Following in the footsteps of other world-dominating pop stars such as Justin Bieber, Lipa kick-started her music career via social media, at the age of 19, while also juggling separate jobs as a waitress and a model. Scouted by Ben Lawson of TAP Management, the future star eventually signed a record deal with Warner Bros, and issued her debut single, New Love, in the summer of 2015. With lyrics that drew upon the trials and tribulations of her previous work life, Lipa quickly made good on her desire to create seductive music that doesn’t sugar-coat what happens in the entertainment industry. Her fifth single, Blow Your Mind (Mwah), took influence from her experience in modelling world, its syncopated electro-pop rhythms slapping with Lipa’s fiery vocals as she expressed her refusal to change herself in order to fit into someone else’s mould.

A national anthem for heartbreak

Ultimately pop in its outlook, Dua Lipa’s debut album was a complicated yet established amalgamation of electro-pop and R&B, fused with elements of disco and tropical house – something she described as “dance-crying”. Maintaining a healthy balance between authentic lovesick ballads and dancefloor-ready anthems, Lipa incorporated themes of relationships and female empowerment into her songs. While Lost In Your Light (featuring a guest turn from US R&B singer Miguel) was rich with breezy melodies that captured the euphoria of the initial stages of a relationship, the career-defining success of the album’s seventh single – of a jaw-dropping eight single releases – New Rules became the national anthem for heartbroken ex-lovers around the world. Earning Lipa her first UK No.1 and reaching the same position in several other countries, the song was met with critical acclaim and became a fundamental part of the success of its parent album.

Intending to create a sound that landed somewhere between J Cole and Nelly Furtado, Lipa’s list of influences expanded way beyond what was expected, with an eclectic mix of guitar-led bands also helping to shape the record as she drew inspiration from groups as disparate as Radiohead and Stereophonics. Lipa’s wide-ranging influences ran clear in the anomalous cut IDGAF, a riff-lead pop song which turned away from the tropical-house style that dominated the album.

A modern twist on the average pop record

A mark of its longevity, the campaign around Dua Lipa’s debut album lasted from the release of its first single, New Love, issued in August 2015, through to IDGAF, released in January 2018, with Be The One, IDGAF and the mammoth New Rules all taking Lipa into the UK Top 10. The enormous success of the album itself (it would enter the Top 10 in 14 different countries, going platinum in the US and double-platinum in the UK) led to Lipa embarking on a headlining tour of the UK and Europe – dubbed The Self-Titled Tour – while also earning support slots with Bruno Mars and Coldplay.

Favourable reviews predicted that Lipa would be the next pop superstar – and they weren’t wrong. Attracting high praise for her rich mezzo-soprano vocals and the record’s quality production, Dua Lipa’s album became a frequent contender on 2017’s end-of-year lists. Moreover, it received a BRIT Award nomination for British Album Of The Year, while the singles New Rules and IDGAF were both nominated for British Single Of The Year, with IDGAF scooping the win.

With Lipa’s popularity growing by the day, a deluxe edition of the record was released in 2018. Featuring a whopping 25 tracks, it included the likes of the Calvin Harris collaboration One Kiss and the Grammy-winning Electricity, the latter helmed by Silk City (Diplo and Mark Ronson).

The perfect pop star

Putting a modern twist on the average pop record, Dua Lipa’s self-titled debut album was an exhilarating listen which allowed her creative authenticity to run wild. While she described her writing sessions as a form of therapy, wearing her heart on her sleeve and being wholeheartedly herself was a power move like no other. Using past rejections and the fury of heartache as fuel for her lyrics allowed Lipa to blossom into a queen of overcoming heartbreak, bringing committed audiences with her.

Within a few years, Lipa would be hailed as the perfect pop star – a Guinness World Record holder who has advanced to commanding solo arena shows and dominating charts around the world. It’s this record which made it all possible.

Looking for the next Dua Lipa? Check out our musicians to watch in 2022.

More Like This

‘Pictures At Eleven’: How Robert Plant Framed His Post-Zeppelin Career
In Depth

‘Pictures At Eleven’: How Robert Plant Framed His Post-Zeppelin Career

With the solo album ‘Pictures At Eleven’, Robert Plant stepped out of the shadows of Led Zeppelin with a new sound and a brand new band.

Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others: Behind The Smiths’ “Hypnotic” Song
In Depth

Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others: Behind The Smiths’ “Hypnotic” Song

Though it was given a limited single release, Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others remains one of The Smiths’ landmark songs.

Sign up to our newsletter

Be the first to hear about new releases, upcoming events, and more from Dig!

Sign Up