Charlotte Emma Aitchison (born August 2, 1992), better known by her stage name Charli XCX, is a British singer-songwriter of electronic indie pop music.
She's perhaps best known for her single "Boom Clap" (from the The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack), as well as some collaborations with Icona Pop ("I Love It") and Iggy Azalea ("Fancy"), the latter of which went to #1 in the United States for a span of weeks in Summer 2014. Prior to her breakthrough, she recorded two albums: 2008's 14, which was never officially released, and 2013's True Romance, her official debut record.
Following the success of "Fancy," her sophomore effort Sucker was released in 2014, featuring a departure from the electronic pop she became known for to Nineties-inspired riot grrrl. Reception of the album was mixed.
Perhaps in response to lukewarm reaction of Sucker, she eventually returned to her roots with the Vroom Vroom EP in 2016. Produced entirely by electronic musician Sophie, Vroom Vroom is notable for its industrial-tinged sound.
While working on her third studio album in 2017, Charli put out a trio of releases that kept in the vein of Vroom Vroom — the single "Boys", accompanied by a viral music video featuring well-known male artists in varying states of cheeky imagery, and two collaboration-heavy note "mixtapes" titled Number 1 Angel and POP2, heavily featuring production credits from acts associated with the PC Music label.
- 14 (2008) note
- True Romance (2013)
- Sucker (2014)
- Vroom Vroom EP (2016)
- Number 1 Angel (2017)
- POP2 (2017)
- "I Love It" (with Icona Pop)
- "Fancy" (with Iggy Azalea)
- "Boom Clap"
- "1999" (with Troye Sivan)
"I was busy thinkin' bout tropes..."
- The '90s: "1999", a collaboration with Troye Sivan, is a huge nostalgic love letter to the decade, with lyrics referencing Britney Spears, All That, and Eminem, with the music video directly recreating some of its imagery.
- Album Title Drop: Vroom Vroom has a title track of the same name, which is also the name of the record label Charli started around the time of the EP's release.
- Animeland: The video for "SuperLove", in which she and some friends go to some kind of techno dance club in Tokyo with robots and yakuza bikers.
- Bare Your Midriff: All the time.
- Broken Record: The chorus of "I Got It," which lyrically consists of Charli rhythmically saying "I got it I got it I got it I got it I got it I got it..."
- But Not Too Foreign: She's of Mixed Ancestry (her mother is Indian).
- The Cameo:
- She featured in Danny Brown's song "Float On", but her only role was to provide backing vocals in the chorus.
- The video for "Vroom Vroom" features brief appearances by A.G. Cook (founder of PC Music and later a major producer for Number 1 Angel and POP2) and Hannah Diamond (a prominent PC Music act and friend to both Charli and Cook).
- The video for "Boys" contains a ton, listed below in Massive Multiplayer Crossover.
- Child Popstar: She started recording music in her early teens and made her first album when she was 14, which was funded by her own father.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Charli XCX curses all the time in her songs, but "Sucker" takes it to a whole new level. However, her most famous song "Boom Clap" is notably devoid of swearing.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: She has synesthesia (to be more specific, a kind called chromesthesia) which means she sees music as colours. Since she prefers music that's black, purple, pink, and red, she had no problem with letting Icona Pop record "I Love It" instead of her, as it wasn't in a colour she liked."Ive wanted to write good pop music, beautiful pop musicnot just throwaways. Ive always wanted to make it sound luscious, and beautiful and cinematic. I feel like Ive done that with this record. The way that I describe it is purple pop music, its moody, emotional and rich."
- Cool People Rebel Against Authority: Pretty much the basis behind "Break the Rules".
- A Date with Rosie Palms: "Body of My Own", also alluded to in "Grins".
- Fading into the Next Song: Nearly every song on True Romance and the entirety of the Heartbreaks & Earthquakes EP.
- Fangirl: Of Britney Spears. She made special mention of her love of Blackout.
- Female Gaze: The ''Boys'' video has many handsome celebrities posing in scenarios that are usually considered for women.
- Former Teen Rebel: Her high school years included performing at underground rave parties (which her parents even came to) and "rummaging through CD crates for punk CDs and wearing defiant outfits to school — 'five belts instead of one,' she recalls — in order to demonstrate her overall rebelliousness".
- Genre Throwback: 80s Synth-Pop meets 90s girl pop.
- Girl Group: Has an all-female backing band.
- Girls' Night Out Episode: "Girls Night Out" to nobody's surprise, complete with the repeating chorus of "No boys, no boys!"
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: "I Got It" features an entire guest verse by the Brazilian Pabllo Vittar in Portuguese.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: She frequently indulges in this imagery, from "Fancy" to "Break the Rules" to "After the Afterparty".
- Hell-Bent for Leather: She often wears leather jackets, paired with Cool Shades. One of the single cover arts for "1999"◊ features her and Troye Sivan in full Matrix-style getup.
- Identical Stranger: Some believe she looks like Lily Collins, or Sasha Grey. Also bares some resemblance to Lorde.
- Intercourse with You:
- The chorus of "What I Like".
- Also in "Champagne Coast", she says "come into my bedroom" thirty-two times. Not exactly subtle.
- "Lipgloss" featuring CupcakKe is all about girls getting oral sex.
- Lighter and Softer: After the Dark Wave-influenced True Romance, she made a Genre Shift to pop-punk and electroclash on Sucker.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: The video for "Boys" is basically a montage of at least 60 male music celebrities in full Female Gaze-y glory, including, but are not limited to: A.G. Cook, Oli Sykes, Joe Jonas, Max Hershenow, Charlie Puth, G-Eazy, Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Dan Smith, Flume, Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Joey Bada$$, Tinie Tempah, Riz Ahmed (and the rest of the Swet Shop Boys), Taka Moriuchi, Carl Barat, Mac DeMarco, will.i.am, Tommy Cash, Diplo, Laurie Vincent, Tristan Evans and James McVey, and Vance Joy.
- Memetic Hand Gesture: Her very British V-Sign, which she does a lot in photos and when playing live. (Other ones include making a Heart Symbol with her fingers and Flipping the Bird.)
- Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover of True Romance is a picture of her with a white background. Sucker is also a picture of her, except with a pink background. Her singles, on the other hand, are a mix of this and Design Student's Orgasm.
- Money Song: "Gold Coins". She also did a cover of "Money (That's What I Want)".
- Ms. Fanservice: She plays into this with her many appearances in music videos and televised performances. The Tokyo-set Video for "Boom Clap", where a stunningly gorgeous Charli jaunts around the streets of the city in tiny, mostly form-hugging attire (and at one point in what appears to be nothing more than a nightgown).
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Her music is a mix of synthpop, dark wave, pop punk, electronica, witch house, and whatever else she feels like. Taken to an extreme with the Vroom Vroom EP, which can be best described as "experimental pop" — trap, grime, EDM, bubblegum pop, and industrial hip-hop (complete with her rapping for the first time) come together here to create something completely different.
- New Sound Album:
- Sucker incorporates elements of pop-punk, power pop and dance-pop— genres not particularly heard before on True Romance.
- The Vroom Vroom EP, produced by Sophie, is definitely bubblegum bass and pop, but has some influences from trap, grime, and even industrial hip hop. Its follow-ups, including Number 1 Angel and POP2, aren't quite as dark or experimental, but retain the tinge of quirky bubblegum bass.
- Nice Shoes: She has an endless supply of platform heels.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Grins" & "Cloud Aura"; probably more.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: "Need Ur Luv". It sounds like 50s doo-wop, which is completely unlike anything else she's done before.
- Perky Goth: One of her looks (lots of black, dark lipstick).
- Purple Is Powerful: Her live shows have a lot of purple lighting (see Color-Coded for Your Convenience).
- Rearrange the Song:
- As explained in the liner notes, "Lipgloss" started as an unreleased instrumental by PC Music act Life Sim simply titled "Lightning", which then got edited and recycled by several producers including A.G Cook and Sophie before reaching the final version on Number 1 Angel (all three are credited as producers). A few months later, Life Sim released an updated version of his original instrumental, now titled "Lightning Lipgloss Life".
- "Track 10" from POP2 is a twofer: it's stated to be a remix of a previously unreleased track called "Blame It On Your Love", and part of its instrumental (from 2 minutes onwards) is a rearrangement of another track by Life Sim, "IDL". Hilariously enough, a finished version of the original "Blame It On Your Love" demo, now featuring Lizzo, was released as a single later on, meaning there's now two completely different official arrangements of the song.
- Repetitive Audio Glitch: Used to brief but creatively heartbreaking effect in "Lucky", where the vocals briefly skip at the line "You got no reception, you're brea-ea-king up..."
- Robot Girl: "Femmebot" gleefully toys with this imagery, using a ton of playful robot metaphors.Go fuck your prototype
Im an upgrade of your stereotype
Dont come with a guarantee
Ill use you up like youre my battery
I feel the sparks between us, electric shock
Hot-wired if you mess it up, Ill self-destruct
- "Trophy" gets its namedrop from a sample from Pulp Fiction of Uma Thurman saying "I want that trophy."
- "Unlock It" from POP2 borrows a few snippets from A.G. Cook's "Beautiful", including its Title Drop hook.
- "Delicious" from the same album is briefly interrupted in the middle by a ringtone, which is a 3-second long snippet of none other than Charli's own "Boom Clap".
- Sarcastic Title: True Romance is, ironically, mostly full of bitter post-breakup songs. (It's named after a Quentin Tarantino movie.)
- Self-Backing Vocalist: "Grins" most prominently, and other songs.
- Sexy Schoolwoman: She often wears plaid skirts (and not just in the "Fancy" video) despite being in her early 20s. (However, she really did go to an elite boarding school.)
- She's Got Legs: Charli XCX is famous for her thighs.
- To Quentin Tarantino, to The Craft, and most of all to Ginger Spice and Girl Power - even going as far as wearing the same Union Jack dress as her on tour.
- In the video for "Break the Rules", she gets a pail of some kind of pink goop dumped on her by a Sadist Teacher, not unlike the prom scene in Carrie (where it was pig's blood). Unlike that film, she and everyone else finds it to be lots of fun.
- In "Cloud Aura", Brooke Candy says "Time to terminate shit, hasta la vista".
- The lyrics on Sucker mention "The Rolling Stones on my phone" and Lucy in the sky of diamonds.
- CupcakKe's verses in "Lipgloss" features two simultaneously inexplicable yet hilariously fitting references to iCarly and Winnie-the-Pooh.
- "After the Afterparty" has a bridge that repeatedly mentions "RiRi on replay."
- Mykki Blanco's guest verse in "Femmebot" alone references Ghost in the Shell, Ex Machina, The Matrix, Dragon Ball, and "Charlie bit my finger". Even the title might be a reference to the fembots from Austin Powers.
- With the song being a throwback to The '90s, the video to "1999" features Charli and Troye Sivan recreating several iconic pop culture images and icons from that era, including The Matrix, Titanic (1997), American Beauty, "The Real Slim Shady", Spice Girls, N Sync-era Justin Timberlake, even Steve Jobs and The Blair Witch Project.
- Silly Love Songs: "Boom Clap", "You're the One", "What I Like", "SuperLove", Unlock It
- Singer Namedrop:
- Three Minutes of Writhing: Not usually in her videos, but her performance of "Need Ur Love" on the Late Show definitely was (on top of a piano, no less).
- Title Track:
- The first track off of her 2014 album, Sucker, is well... named just that.
- The Vroom Vroom EP similarly begins with the titular track.
- Trademark Favourite Food: Apparently she really likes pizza. As in, enough to eat a whole one by herself.
- Visual Pun: The cover for her single with Marina and the Diamonds, "Just Desserts", is ... a hand holding an ice cream cone. Bonus points for the intentional misspelling.
- "X" Makes Anything Cool: The name "XCX" doesn't really mean anything; it just sounds a lot cooler than "Aitchison", a clunky, difficult name for a pop star."It stands for Kiss Charli Kiss, which is fucking lame. It used to be my handle on MSN Messenger. Then I got signed and thought, "Maybe I need to make it cooler," so I told the record label it stood for X-rated Cunt X-rated."
- A Wild Rapper Appears!:
- Brooke Candy in "Cloud Aura", a lone R&B song on a synthpop album.
- And Danny Brown on the remix of "What I Like"
- Lil Yachty in After The Afterparty.
- CupcakKe stands out for getting two full verses in Lipgloss on Number 1 Angel and another verse in I Got It off Pop 2.
- Number 1 Angel also has rap verses from Starrah and Raye, while Pop 2 has verses from Brooke Candy, Mykki Blanco, Tommy Cash, and Jay Park.
- Subverted on both mixtapes by many features with other singers rather than rappers.