This morning, a photo of Dua Lipa, Alma, MØ, Charli XCX, and Zara Larsson all together circulated and pop Twitter had what I will call a minor freak-out.
They were all in the same place because Dua Lipa had enlisted the others to provide backing for her live version of new single "IDGAF" on the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge (see that above). The performance itself is… fine. Dua sounds great, and though I could certainly have gone for a few more vocal harmonies from the four professional singers backing her up, it's OK – it's probable that they had little time to prepare, to be honest – because that's actually not what's important here.
There's a lot going on. The five women here present a pretty accurate spectrum of the sounds coming out of widely-consumed European pop right now – Zara and Dua fall into the more solidly mainstream camp, while Charli, MØ, and Alma represent something a little more experimental. It's also important to note that both Charli and MØ are prolific songwriters, who often make material for other artists. It's smart, therefore, of Dua Lipa, whose persona, thanks to "New Rules," has morphed into Strong Independent Woman Who Doesn't Need a Man and Loves a Girl Gang, to not only surround herself with other woman artists, but also other woman artists who could be seen to be challenging traditional pop stardom; they're well known for their #unfiltered social media personas (Zara Larsson, hello), or their leftfield creativity, for example.
The link-up, therefore, is great commercial positioning from Dua Lipa, but it is also potentially a glimpse at the future of pop, grounded in women (who make up the majority of pop acts) choosing their own directions and working with others who make sense for where they want to go. I'm not saying this entire thing was masterminded by Dua Lipa – maybe it was, maybe management had a hand in it – but either way, it does provide an interesting prospect for something new (as Popjustice's Peter Robinson writes, "This is what girlbands could be like in 2018 if the music industry wasn’t such a bag of shit." I concur).
This video is not significant because it shows five separately famous women singing together. It is significant because of what it could spawn, and how it makes you think about pop music, and what these women could achieve if they put their heads together. As Charli XCX showed on her mixtape Pop 2, well chosen collaborations make for sonic gold. Let's have more of them from now on.
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