We’re all used to name-dropping Gaga, Katy and Britney when we talk about pop divas. But isn’t time we added Betty to the list?
Aussie dynamo Betty Who — aka Jessica Newham — staked her claim as a full-body showstopper at South by Southwest on Thursday. Her arms swung, her body dipped, her smile beamed and her glitter-dusted eyes twinkled right from the beginning of the song “Heartbreak Dream.” Though aided heavily by a backing track, Betty’s perpetual whirligig choreography and sparkling voice plugged arena-level energy into a small tent at Bar 96.
Before we go any further, let’s mention that the singer brought along two staggeringly hunky male back-up dancers who were not shy with the body contact. Of their considerable muscular appeal and a penchant for touching their stomachs, she said “I make them have abs instead.” That’s right, Betty. Those men back you up.
INTERVIEW FROM 2014: Betty Who delivers a wallop of exuberant, romantic pop perfection
Not a single moment failed to reflect Betty’s winning personality. “I destroy everything I touch,” Betty said after knocking over he microphone stand. “Did you see that mic stand? Imagine if that was a man.” And also to the audience, on the possibility of her Spanx slipping off after too much friction with her dancers: “Let a sister know. Be on the lookout.”
Easy, breezy and blithe, Betty and her songs mirror each other completely. On “High Society,” the crowd shouted back “Chardonnay through the day/’cause we say so” like it was a Top 40 lyric. Her refreshingly sexy cover of Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever” sparked just one of many singalongs.
"High Society" with @BettyWho made certain chemicals fire in my brain. (The good chemicals!) #sxswpic.twitter.com/za56L4S2iP
— Eric Webb (@webbeditor) March 17, 2017
It’s Betty’s connection with fans, though, that puts on track for mononym fame. At least two received up-close serenades; she tugged on one’s hat playfully and winked at least twice. With charisma like that, you’re happy to keep an eye out for a gal’s slipping Spanx.