Charli XCX: Our New VBF
The trendsetting pop star says she's under-rated. We think so too
Charli XCX: Cambridge-born queen of clubs
With one tweet, pop dominatrix Charli XCX captures how many feel after one or two gins but . . . she’s sort of right. The Cambridge-born singer and songwriter tweeted recently that she was “under-rated”. She could have added underappreciated too. Charli XCX is one of the most interesting pop acts to work her way up the charts, from club kid and featured artist to full-blown star, she somehow does not get enough credit for the music she makes and the trends she sets.
I first heard of Charli XCX in 2008 via a visit to the first wave of friends that packed up and moved to London. In their Camden flat, we necked back cheap vodka as they played a song called Dinosaur Sex! “I like spelling bee, L-I-C-K my ice cream/ I like your ugly face, water fights with boys who chase/ I fancy LaChappelle, photographs, he takes them well/ I love dinosaurs, pterodactyl, watch me roar!” she proclaimed over clicking and bleeping sounds that were perfectly designed to go with cheap vodka.
In the nu-rave wave that dominated the indie scene then, she borrowed sounds from Klaxons and New Young Pony Club but, by adding her own brat-pop element, she created something new that you could only hear on her MySpace page or at the London raves she performed at. And it’s worth mentioning that in 2008, rave queen Charli XCX was only 16 years old.
In da club
Her sound became more polished by the time she released her debut album, True Romance, in 2013 but by looping the minimal techno hook of Gold Panda’s You on her own single You (Ha Ha Ha), she found ways to honour her second home – da club.
While True Romance was an underlying hit, or underrated to use her own words, she hit chart gold by writing I Love It, Icona Pop’s humongous 2013 single and later featuring on Iggy Azalea’s Fancy. Thanks to Fancy, Charli XCX suddenly becoming one of the most sought-after acts to collaborate with in the pop world. While poor old Iggy Azalea hasn’t been able find stability in the charts since, the success of Fancy gave Charli XCX the freedom to do whatever she wants with her music, resulting in some truly experimental and carefree pop music that makes you feel like you’re throwing down in the middle of a sweaty moshpit or strutting down the catwalk.
Pop 2 was released just before Christmas as the follow-up mixtape to last March’s Number 1 Angel, and as her latest generous offering to the world, she brings an incredible selection of collaborators (including pop connoisseurs Tove Lo, Carly Rae Jepsen and rapper Mykki Blanco) and distorted electronic pop songs that speak to those that treat the dancefloor as a holy space.
Charli XCX’s greatest skill is that she can flick the switch from mainstream songs such as Boom Clap, the lead single from the 2014 movie The Fault in Our Stars, and return to brashy ’n’ trashy, mildly underground pop songs such as Dreamer so easily.
This week, we’re unfriending: Oprah debaters
We can’t still be arguing over the hypothetical idea of Oprah running for US president, can we? We can’t. If you see anyone earnestly engaging in this debate online, either for or against Oprah, just mute them because we can’t waste our rage on hypothesis.