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.
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.
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.