Music Critic Natasha Burden reviews a sultry new track from the artist formerly known as Eliza DoolittleWritten by natashaburden on 18th February 2018
Live Review: Zara Larsson
Redbrick's Ben Johns heads down to the O2 Academy to check out pop princess Zara Larsson's show
Anybody thinking that Zara Larsson is a relative newcomer to pop music stands to be mistaken, as Wednesday night’s performance at the O2 Academy proved that she was an industry veteran. After competing and winning Talang, Sweden’s version of the ‘Got Talent’ franchise, at the age of 10, Larsson has become one of music’s biggest names in her home country. In 2015, she branched out with her international breakthrough hit ‘Lush Life’, which gained her further recognition and popularity across the globe. The people of Birmingham were eager for a show, and Zara delivered it.
“Zara stepped out with her envy-inducing hair blowing in the wind to loud screams before she’d even sung the first note of her collaboration with MNEK, ‘Never Forget You’
Zara stepped out with her envy-inducing hair blowing in the wind to loud screams before she’d even sung the first note of her collaboration with MNEK, ‘Never Forget You’. Whilst playback and backing vocalists were there to support, Zara’s voice was impressively strong, especially since she was dancing as well. One of the reasons that people have bought into Zara Larsson is her personality. On social media, she seems affable and self-aware. This was all conveyed in a brief speech about how grateful she was to be on her first solo UK tour, which aptly acted as an interlude into self-empowerment anthem ‘What They Say’.
There have been some comparisons drawn between Zara and a young Rihanna, and this was brought to light with album track ‘Sundown’. Larsson made the best of a bad situation and tried to inject some personality into the otherwise bland pastiche-dancehall number. However, her talents are best suited for big pop numbers rather than something that RiRi would reject.
“Larsson made the best of a bad situation and tried to inject some personality into the otherwise bland pastiche-dancehall number. However, her talents are best suited for big pop numbers rather than something that RiRi would reject
That blip aside, it was back to business for a mash up of ‘Girls Like’, her duet with Tinie Tempah famous for the ‘what’s the code to your WiFi again?’ line which was shouted back by the audience. She combined this with David Guetta’s ‘This One’s For You’ with the chorus of ‘we’re in this together, we’re in this forever’ resonating between her and the crowd for the 80 minutes that she was on stage. Another mashup, this one Ed Sheeran themed, ensued as she mixed up her single ‘Don’t Let Me Be Yours’, which Sheeran helped co-write, with his own ‘Shape Of You’. Whilst the thought was nice, it felt unnecessary, with its only purpose being to perk up the ears of those that didn’t know ‘Don’t Let Me Be Yours’, which failed to scrape in to the UK Top 100.
Larsson’s full potential was shown when she unleashed a canon of her hits. ‘I Would Like’, Zara’s highest charting solo single, started the section with ‘Ain’t My Fault’, ‘So Good’ and her number one collaboration with ‘Clean Bandit, ‘Symphony’ signalling the end of the main show. Rather than choosing to end her show with a selection of her biggest UK hits, Zara instead chose to perform an encore of some of the first hits she had in Sweden. The opening piano keys of ballad ‘Uncover’ was received by huge applause and it was clear that a lot of the audience had followed Zara’s career from the beginning as they sang along to ‘Carry You Home’ and ‘Rooftop’. ‘Lush Life’ ended her performance on a true high, and despite potential health and safety issues, she encouraged the people on the balcony to stand up with the whole venue on their feet dancing.
“Zara chose to perform an encore of some of the first hits she had in Sweden, and the opening piano keys of ballad ‘Uncover’ was received with huge applause
If her show proved anything, it’s that Zara Larsson was born to entertain. It’s evident that she’s studied her trade of how to be a popstar, with her star quality shining through. The future is bright, and with the right career choices, Zara Larsson could become one of the biggest stars of her generation.