To open the virtual ceremony, Dua Lipa made a transition from her usual high-energy, colorful visuals to give us a more stripped-down performance of her song, “Boys Will Be Boys.” The singer stunned in a black gown while performing in front of a blank canvas, repeating the chorus, “boys will be boys...but girls will be women.”
Dua wrote about the performance on Instagram, writing, “Thank you for having us open the show and allowing me to perform a song that means so much to me and that I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to perform like this for any other occasion.”
After kicking off the show with her powerful performance, the pop star went on to accept the evening’s first honor: the Powerhouse Award. Lipa received the award as an act who has dominated streaming, sales and radio throughout 2020.
She was presented the honor by Senator Bernie Sanders, who started off his speech by addressing this “unprecedented year” before diving into his admiration for the way Dua Lipa has adapted to the all of this year’s irregularity. He went on to commend the songstress for how she used her platform and her voice through it all.
“What this year has made clear, more than anything else, is that none of us can go back to business as usual,” Sanders said in his introduction. ”The winner of tonight‘s Powerhouse Award understands that...She has said loudly and clearly with her actions that now is the time to fight for a better future for all. She is fighting for young people, women, refugees, the LGBT community [and] she is using her platform to bring people into the democratic process. She is raising her voice to demand real change.”
As she accepted the award, Lipa called Sanders a “personal hero” of hers. She continued on with her speech, admitting that while every award is special, she’s particularly proud of this one because it represents standing in solidarity with her “fellow female artists and women all over the world.” She went on to emphasize the importance of equality, citing that only 2.6% of producers of Billboard Hot 100 songs are women, with under 1% being women of color.
“We‘ve still got so far to go for real equality,” she demanded. “Let’s keep celebrating the women, and keep encouraging all the young girls out there to be the powerhouses of the future.”