Charli XCX is the breakout Britpop sensation rocking the charts, and chances are you’ll be hearing a lot more from her soon.
With catchy choruses and a synth-heavy sound, the 22-year-old’s latest offering could easily skyrocket her into mainstream pop culture consciousness. That sophomore album, Sucker — available Monday — features chart topper “Boom Clap.” The song’svideo has been viewed over 100 million times on YouTube and is on the soundtrack to tear-jerker flick The Fault in Our Stars.
She’s been making music for years
Even if you don’t know her name, you’ve probably heard her voice: The raven-haired singer featured on two hit massive hits in recent years, Icona Pop’s 2012 smash “I Love It” and Iggy Azalea’s 2014 hit “Fancy.” But her career stretches back even further than that. In 2008, at the age of 14, she began recording her debut album, thanks to a loan from her parents. Two years later, she signed a record deal with Atlantic Records.
Her name really is Charli — kind of
Charli XCX is a stage name, but you already knew that. Her real name oozes British charm: Charlotte Emma Aitchison. There’s been lots of speculation about what the “XCX” thing is all about, but the singer actually cleared that up in a 2012 Rolling Stoneinterview. “Well, people have speculated that it means ‘Kiss Kiss,’ but I really just chose the name because I thought it looked cool and sounded catchy,” she said.
It seems lots of rockers have been in the studio collaborating with Charli for her latest album. “Weezer, Rostam from Vampire Weekend, Stargate, John Hill,” she listed off in a June 2014 interview with Pop Justice. You can hear those influences in the album’s pop-rock tracks, like the gritty hooks and driving beat of single “Break the Rules.”
She used to dress like Avril Lavigne
It seems Charli XCX may have taken some of her punk cues from Ontario’s own Avril Lavigne. “I used to want to be Avril. I used to wear the ties,” Charli told Grantland in 2013. She has also said that as a kid, she wanted to be a Spice Girl — and in the ’90s, what girl didn’t? “I always wanted to be Baby, but whenever I was with my friends, I had to be Scary Spice because of my hair,” she told Rolling Stone. Turns out, that wild black hair is now part of her signature look.
She’s got mad respect for Britney Spears
Charli has an unabashed love for pop music, including the often-maligned Britney Spears. In an October interview with Cosmopolitan, she talks about loving Brit’s albums. “They’re so intelligent. The way her songs are crafted is really amazing. I think that music is really interesting and clever,” she says. She even describes two of the pop-star’s later tracks, “Gimme More” and “Piece of Me” as “genius.”
But also takes cues from classic punk
The sound on Sucker definitely echoes back to classic punk rock — complete with a guttural “Oi, oi, oi!” on “London Queen.” Charli told Swide her dad is fond of punk rock, and she’s got a soft spot for it too. “I went to see the Sex Pistols when they reformed, I always was a fan of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren and everything they created together,” she said.
She told off Eminem and stood up for Iggy
Eminem is no stranger to controversy, but Charli shot back at the rapper for going too far on his song “Vegas” with what sounds like a rape threat against Iggy Azalea. Spinreported that Charli defended her “Fancy” collaborator, saying, “It was disgusting, and totally Eminem . . . He has a history of provocative lyrics, so it’s hardly surprising, but still intensely shocking.” Charli added that Iggy is a “classy lady” who rose above it.
She’s growing into a modern feminist
Charli snagged the cover of Nylon magazine’s January issue, and inside she chats about the feminist movement, saying she admires women “like Beyoncé for putting themselves on the line and having visuals that say ‘feminism.’” It’s a big change from a 2012 interview she did with VICE, where she said she never talked about feminism because she felt like she didn’t know enough about it. “I just believe that girls should be able to do what the f–k they want and shouldn’t feel the need to dress conventionally and sexy in mens’ eyes,” she said. “Maybe that’s what the second wave of feminism is, I don’t know, I just know what my own beliefs are.”
Her latest album is already getting buzz
Reviews of Sucker bode well for Charli XCX. “On Sucker, XCX doesn’t just tweak the ear-candy pop template, she blows it up, then pries the shiniest bits from the asphalt,” wrote USA Today. Pitchfork said this is an album “that seeks to bend the mainstream to its will rather than conform to its reigning trend.” And Billboard summed it up like this: “(Sucker) is poised to be the album that makes the 22-year-old Brit a true stand-alone star.”