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Five reasons to add Betty Who to your playlist

By Emily Ornberg

Betty Who is colossal. Not only is the Aussie singer a towering 6’1”, but her glistening pop catalog, infectious personality and introspective lyrics similarly rise above the rest.

Who, whose actual name is Jessica Newham, released a few darling EPs the past few years that received a little blog love but went largely unnoticed. But the 23-year-old bottle blonde exploded after her ode to Whitney Houston “Somebody Loves You” soundtracked one of those semi-viral flashmob proposals on YouTube with more than 12 million views, resulting in Who penning a contract with RCA. Her Oct. 7 debut album “Take Me When You Go” offers catchy choruses reminiscent of Robyn or Katy Perry — the latter of which Who will be touring with next month — with smart writing and emotive wordplay that prove it’s Who’s time to shine. On Tuesday night, Betty Who brought her new album to life at the House of Blues, providing a fiery spectacle that upstaged her bubbly performance at Lollapalooza in August.

Betty Who is a remarkable pop star is sure to shape the genre entirely. Not convinced? Here are 5 reasons to think otherwise:

She honors ’90s pop music

Not only are her songs addictively captivating, but she told Billboard her inspiration is drawn from nostalgic hits by her favorite artists — Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Whitney Houston. Last night, during her opening number “High Society,” which already offers a bouncy electronic flitter, Who inserted a few lines from NSync’s “I Want You Back” as she skipped around the stage in her tennis skirt and multicolored crop top, making the concert instead feel a lot more like dancing around your bedroom with your best friend.

Yet she elevates the genre at the same time

Although her ‘80s synth melodies can be traced back to, well, the ‘80s, Who provides a lyrical depth that tinges her glittering harmonies with a hint of despair. Who recently graduated from Berklee College of Music, where she honed her songwriting craft with close friend and producer Peter Thomas. One of the duo’s standout tracks off her new album “Just Like Me” has a dance floor wallop so vibrant it’s easy to miss the one of the most telling lyrics on the album: “I know you kiss me/ And in some fucked up way that’s fine.” Balancing the lyrical depth of a singer-songwriter with sugary Cyndi Lauper-esque melodies provides a refreshingly honest take on an otherwise synthetic genre.

She expresses her emotions unabashedly

Seeing an artist onstage should be a kinetic experience, or at least something different from pulling up their catalogue on Spotify. From the moment she arrived onstage, Who lit up the room. She twirled, twerked and flirted with the crowd and grinded on band donning “Who Crew” jerseys. The whole floor of the House of Blues shook as the crowd moshed along with her as she taught the crowd the lyrics to her songs about drinking cheap champagne, throwing your feet out the window of your friend’s car and the heartbreaking feeling of knowing a relationship is fizzling out.

She can slay a ballad

Her upbeat pop ditties may be her ride to success, but her emotional ballads showcase just how dynamic Ms. Who truly is. “California Rain,” the album’s closing track and darkest moment, which she has said was inspired by that infamous Hilary Duff line in “A Cinderella Story.” Kneeling on the lip of the stage after, a droning bass leads the echoed foundation for her buttery voice to scale up and down like soft cries: “I love it when you’re lonely/ That’s when we feel the same /You come around, you let me down/ Like California rain.”

She has a sense of humor