In light of the release of Charli XCX’s new album Sucker and her brilliant 2014, in which she finally conquered the pop world, we decided to run through her year using the alphabet. Yes, it was hard but also rewarding. Charli XCX, this is your life (for 2014, at least).
A is for All-star producers
You only have to look at the producer credits on Charli XCX’s Sucker to see that she’s been working with the best of the best in 2014. On Sucker she’s worked with Benny Blanco who expertly worked on Jessie Ware’s, Tough Love, Greg Kurstin, who weaved his magic over Lily Allen’s Sheezus and Ariel Rechtshaid who’s worked with everyone from HAIM to Kylie Minogue this year. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find a few left-of-centre choices in the writing credits with Young & Sick, Ariel Pink and Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow all lending a hand.
B is for Bratty
The whole Sucker era has been centred around Charli XCX being a brat. On Break The Rules she sings “I don’t want to go to school, I don’t want to break the rules” and while it’s hilariously cliche she owns it with an unmatched attitude. Sometimes pop thinks it’s being subtle but it never usually is. Charli knows that and she uses its obviousness to her advantage.
C is for Clueless
The Clueless references began in the video for Fancy with Iggy Azealia but she’s carried them with her for the rest of the year. The Break The Rules video also draws upon ‘90s school fashion as its key reference. She told Oyster, “I'm inspired by Clueless and Jawbreaker and lots of 90s cult movies like The Craft, Scream, and also Josie and the Pussycats and stuff like that. I like fashion to be fantastical and fun.”
D is for Dance Moves
Charli XCX is a self-confessed, terrible dancer but it hasn’t stopped her pulling some choice moves this year. When she took to SNL last weekend to perform Break The Rules she thrust like nobody was watching, getting down like a rebellious teen. It’s terribly untechnical but everybody's going to want to dance like Charli XCX.
E is for England
Maybe America has taken to Charli XCX so well because she is a different type of popstar (or anti-popstar, if you like) for them. She represents the alternative vibe of east London expertly, taking the sheen off being a popstar. Instead she turns up with scruffed hair, platform shoes and dark eyes. Brit cool has always been very different to American cool and maybe XCX is proving the Brits win out on this one. And that accent, my goodness.
F is for Fugly
Pop music and fashion go hand in hand and XCX has embraced it head-on this year with some brilliant costumes. I think Regina George would call them fugly?
G is for Goth
Charli XCX’s brilliant, 2013 debut True Romance was a record that dazzled in darkness. There were plenty of brooding, industrial ballads leading her to be labelled a goth. In 2014, she ditched that darkness. Sucker is a much lighter affair, although she’s lost none of the attitude.
H is for Hair
Scruffy and sexy all at once. And it looks like Lorde’s. If you’re interested there’s a whole article on it.
I is for Iggy
Fancy isn’t Charli XCX’s best song but without it she wouldn’t have been able to make her break. Both Iggy and Charli fit together perfectly and Iggy liked her so much she got her to pen her latest single, Beg For It.
J is for Joker
These days if you’re going to be a popstar you have to be #real and part of that is being able to share a joke. One of our favourite #real moments by XCX this year was her introduction at the Billboard Woman Of The Year Awards where she said, “It’s really cool to be at a music industry event where over half the people in the room have vaginas. P—y power!”.
K is for Katy Perry
She opened for Katy Perry on her Prismatic tour this year. I wonder if Katy Perry knows Charli XCX is better than her?
L is for Live Performances
This year’s basically been one neverending prom and here are the videos to prove it. Oh, and at that prom, I Want Candy played.
M is for Money
Apart from the fact she’s probably earnt a shitload this year, we’re going to take this opportunity to talk about Gold Coins. Gold Coins is one of the album’s highlights with a stomping bass-line and crunching guitars that rumble under Charli’s reverb-soaked vocal. It’s got all the ingredients of an indie-rock anthem, with the lyrics of a hip-hop song and the melody of a pop song.
N is for Nineties
Charli XCX is a ‘90s kid through and through. Born in 1992, she lived most of her formative years in the decade and it shows on Sucker. On Doing It, she references early Mariah with a flighty funk and on Hanging Around she channels ‘90s indie rock. In a market where most artists are turning to ‘90s RnB for inspiration, it’s refreshing to hear its other genres appropriated.
O is for Octahate
She wrote this alongside Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos, Benny Blanco and Cashmere Cat. This will probably be a huge hit next year once radio get its act together.
P is for Punk
Sucker is in essence a punk-pop album. In January she shared a track called Allergic To Love which was a runaway punk track and while she’s toned it down a little since then for the album, the punk element is still very much there. Before this release she scrapped a punk album, telling Popjustice, “I was making a punk album! I was over the music industry, I was over all of it. And I went to Sweden and made a punk album.” That release was scrapped and Sucker eventuated. But tell us that the thumping, two minute wonder Breaking Up or the frantic drums of London Queen aren’t punk.
[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/charlixcx/allergic-to-love-charli-xcx[/soundcloud]
Q is for Queen
We’re using queen to talk about Charli XCX, the feminist, because we used F for Fugly, which we don’t regret. Earlier this year she called out a journalist for asking her if she was fingering herself on the radio. She took straight to Twitter and naturally the issue erupted. She’s been criticised for calling herself a feminist and then wearing what she wears. And to that she says, “I still believe in equality, I still run my own shit. I'm not a dumb idiot just because of what I wear.”
R is for Rebellion
A hit song can be a gift and a nightmare. In 2012, Charli XCX wrote I Love It for Swedish duo Icona Pop, which was a huge hit around the world FYI. While it’s obviously been a blessing, it’s also left Charli being heckled by her record company to write a hit. To that she said, “you know what, fuck off” and also turned down a guest spot on a Christina Aguilera record.
S is for Sweden
Charli XCX spent some time in Sweden recording a punk album which hasn’t seen the light of day but she also record Break The Rules after spending a lot of time listening and covering songs by Swedish punk acts like Snuffed By The Yakuza.
T is for Twitter
Charli XCX has had a glorious year on Twitter. Here are some of our favourites:
U is for Underappreciated
By Hilary Duff, at least. Apparently she offered Boom Clap to her but she turned it down. “...her people were like, ‘this is NOT cool enough for Hilary’”, she told Popjustice. Oh, the irony. Apparently this was cool enough though:
V is for Videos
All Charli XCX’s videos have been great this year. Mostly going with the Clueless thing, they’ve been nostalgia-inducing masterpieces that leave plenty of room for her personality to shine through. TBH, the Boom Clap one is a bit of a bore but the song is great, so we’ll leave it at that.
W is for Weezer
It may be a bit of a strange friendship but it seems Charli XCX and River Cuomo of Weezer fame have buddied up to form quite the partnership. He came to the studio to hear her lay down vocals for Boom Clap after she reached out to him and he knew who she was. They did two days in the studio together and he liked the pop tracks more than the tracks that had been inspired by him which is either rude or cool. He only ended up with a writing credit on one of the songs, Hanging Around.
X is for XCX
Just because it’s her name and apart from xylophone (which she doesn’t play) what the hell else does X start with?
Y is for YOLO
While the acronym hasn’t been around for the whole lifespan of pop, pop has always been about YOLO really. The whole of Sucker has a sense of reckless abandon to it. On Die Tonight, she’s singing “til the sun comes up” because she “could die tonight” while on Famous she’s singing “got one night...and we’re gonna come and crash the party”.
Z is for Zero to hero
In an interview with Shazam, Charli XCX described herself before this year as “a songwriter who had a cool album which no one bought”. It’s true too. Her album, True Romance, produced no top ten singles and charted at 85 in the UK. It’s likely that Sucker, out this week, will have much more luck. Boom Clap has already been a top ten hit around much of the world and Break The Rules looks to be doing the same thing.
Charli XCX is touring with Groovin The Moo and doing some sideshows too. Check out the details below:
Metro Theatre, Sydney
Corner Hotel, Melbourne
The Met, Brisbane
Tickets: Frontier Touring