Charli XCX & The Future of Pop Music

Photo from pitchfork.com.

“I go hard, I go fast / And I never look back,” chants the now 27-year-old pop sensation on her latest project simply titled “Charli.” It’s a mantra to Charli’s years of mastering the traditional pop song, taking wide turns for the better and opening a large space for more left-field artists to stake their own claim.

Charli has always avoided the gaze of Billboard charts in the past, instead finding herself writing and practically gifting some of the biggest hits of past years to other artists and friends. Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”? She wrote it. Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love”? She wrote it. Shawn Mendes’ “Senorita”? Okay you get it. Songwriting is in her blood — it’s no debate — but when you compare her discography to those songs in question, you’ll start to see why they might not truly “fit” who she is as an artist.

Photo from hypebeast.com.

When asked about the upcoming release, Charli replied, “I need to just own my own f—ing s–t finally.” An assertive and direct tone that fires on all cylinders, she is no longer in need of label approval, or anyone’s approval for that matter. The music she crafts is explicitly Charli, and that is what truly shines through.

Charli has close ties to producer A.G. Cook and the “PC Music” scene that has birthed avant-garde artists such as SOPHIE into the pop realm. Through their help, Charli’s vision can really come alive. When stripped down, the subject matter that Charli writes about can seem quite mundane. Mostly dealing with the topics like relationships and self-approval, the lyrics are meant to be the handlebars that are the productional roller coaster of sound backing her.

Take “Blame It On Your Love” featuring the 2019 breakout Lizzo. As the chorus repeats the title of the track, an all-encompassing marching band begins to play, signaling that autonomous feelings she has about her past relationships. It’s that sort of “actions speak louder than words” mentality, and when something may come off tricky to express through lyrics alone, sound will tell a tale all of its own.

Photo from spin.com.

With so many incredible artists on the pop spectrum these days it can be easy to get overshadowed. Lana Del Rey released an album not too long ago that is still making the rounds, and a star-studded Ariana Grande track dropped on the same day as Charli’s new album. What allows Charli to exist in the space that she does is the longevity that comes from independent creativity. Songs like “1999” are shaping the way we look and think about the future of pop music. It’s the same reason her 2013 debut sounds like it could have been released yesterday and the same reason Charli will continue to be labeled as “your favorite artist’s favorite artist.”

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