Have you heard of Charli XCX? Of course you have, she’s everywhere right now. After loving her first 2 singles I impulsively pre-ordered her full album ‘Sucker‘. I do not regret it. This is an excellent record. Come along on a journey with me as we listen to each track and learn some of the basics about who this popular artist is…it’s Listen & Learn time!
Track #1: Sucker
In case you were thinking that Charli XCX was a typical young pop star she starts off this album with an acid trip of a rocking party anthem. This song is ridiculous (the only thing more ridiculous would be listening to a censored version…the chorus literally goes “You said you wanna bang. Well F*!k you! Sucker!“). If this is the tone she is setting for this album I’m expecting her to be taking nothing seriously and me to be on my feet dancing.
Charli XCX Fact #1: The Name Game
Did you know that Charli XCX is not her real name? Who would have though ? She was born Charlotte Emma Aitchison.
Track #2: Break the Rules
This song is what first attracted me to Charli XCX. I loved Boom Clap but it took a second track for me to consider it a love for the artist and not just the song. The bouncy beat mixed with the hard backing feels like going grunge at the prom. That’s how I want to describe Charli XCX in general…going grunge at the prom.
Charli XCX Fact #2: Early Life
Charli was born on August 2nd, 1992 making her 22 at the time I’m writing this. She grew up in Cambridge, England with a Scottish father (who was always telling her the best ways to get in trouble) and a mother from Uganda (who lived in constant fear that she would follow through with those things and, indeed, get into trouble).
Track #3: London Queen
I love this song. Perhaps it’s my desire to be in London coloring my view…but the song is about bein gin America so I’m going to choose to believe otherwise. It’s fun. It’s catchy. It’s simple. It’s ridiculous…but that’s kind of her style…ridiculous I mean. She doesn’t take things too seriously and I like that in my feel-good-music.
Charli XCX Fact #3: Let’s Rave About Her
Her first legitimate gigs were at illegal warehouse raves. She was only 14. Despite the sketchy situation her parents were supportive and would actually drive her to & from the events. “It was me,” she recalled, “standing on a crate or a speaker or just the floor with my iPod and everyone would be so fucked up and vomiting over each other, and there were so many drugs and that kind of thing, just a total hipster mess basically.”
Track #4: Breaking Up
This is an entirely different type of break-up song. There are no sappy sentiments of how good things were or wishes of getting back together. It’s like angry TSwift on speed, throwing out insults like “Hate your friends and your family too, so breaking up was easy to do.” I can imagine times when this song would be quite therapeutic to listen to…or sing to some jerks face.
Charli XCX Fact #4: Musical Beginnings
Sucker is not actually her first album; it’s her third. She started releasing singles in 2008 but didn’t receive any major media attention until this year with Boom Clap.
Track #5: Gold Coins
Charli XCX reminds me a bit of Lorde. I thought it was just in looks until this track came on. It’s Charli’s Royals. These two young stars are pumped full of ssatires and rose-colored-glasses-less views of the world. Although while Royals is all about not needing the fame & fortune, Gold Coins is about the ludicrousness of having it.
Charli XCX Fact #5: I Love It
I mentioned Boom Clap, but Charli XCX’s true break out song was with I Love It by Icona Pop, which she wrote. Although she loved the track she didn’t feel like it fit her style so she sold it to the Swedish pop duo. She doesn’t regret it despite the songs mega success. Charli never really felt like it was ‘her song’ and writing it was a step on the way to her own success.
Track #6: Boom Clap
“Boom…Boom…Boom…Clap.” Onomatopoeias can make a song seem like it’s written for Sesame Street, but Boom Clap is able to transcend that. It’s a bit sickly-sweeter than the rest of the album but still retains the cool that Charli XCX personifies.
Charli XCX Fact #6: True Romance
Her parents had funded her first recordings when she was 14 (she posted them on her MySpace page), but in 2013 her first major label studio album came out: True Romance. It peaked at #85 in the UK and had generally favorable reviews but not much major success. I’ve listened to it and find it quite dark but in a good way…you just have to be in the mood for it.
Track #7: Doing It
I know I keep comparing Charli XCX to different artists and it isn’t fair becasue she has a style all her own, but I want to do just one more: Young Madonna. Worth it, wasn’t it? Charli has all the flair and drama of the 80’s queen, and a taste for scandalous innuendos/full out statements with not implication needed.
Charli XCX Fact #7: Up-and-Comer
The creation of her second major album was supposed by artists like Weezer, John Hill & Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend, making her an artist to watch.
Track #8: Body of My Own
It’s common for female artists to do a girl power, “I don’t need no man” track…but Charli does one in her [what I have come to see is] typical style. What does she not need a man for? “I can do it better when I’m all alone”…”I got a body of my own.”
Charli XCX Fact #8: So Fancy
Charli’s first major singing success came when the track she had written Fancy hit number one, although she was just a featured artist. The Clueless-inspired video of Iggy Azalea & Charli XCX’s hit song is VEVO’s most watched video in 2014 with 389 million views.
Additional Fact: Fancy is not only song she’s written for Iggy Azalea; Charli co-wrote the current single Beg for It.
Track #9: Famous
This is a girls night own anthem. An excellent getting-ready song. It can play right after New Romantics and right before MFPOTY. Done.
Charli XCX Fact #9: TFIOS
Solo success came with the release of Boom Clap as part of the The Fault In Our Stars soundtrack and as the first single off Sucker. Boom Clap hit #8 on the Billboard Hit 100 chart.
Track #10: Hanging Around
The stomp-stomp-clap back beat of this song drew me right in. Paired with the fun, care-free lyrics this makes for a great driving song…now I just need to learn all of the words!
Charli XCX Fact #10: The Name Game 2
By now I know you’re dying for the answer to one major question: Why “Charli XCX”? Obviously the Charli is short for Charlotte but the XCX? At one time she sad it didn’t stand for anything but just “looked cool and sounded catchy.” However recently she has said it is a symbol for X-rated content.
But why is it her name? Charli XCX was her MSN screen name and the first thing that came to her head when the rave promoter originally asked for a stage name.
Track #11: Die Tonight
Oh fun we finally have a ‘romantic’ stand-and-sway style song. It’s still more fast-paced than other artists’ slow songs, but going down to that tempo at this point in this album would feel like a grinding to a halt, totally killing the momentum we have going. I enjoy that this track sounds like a love song but isn’t about a man. It talks about being so happy in your life with your friends and the circumstances you’re creating. It’s how I feel a lot of the time. It’s how we should all feel always.
Charli XCX Fact #11: Award Winner
In 2015 Charli XCX is nominated for 2 Grammys: Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, both for Fancy. Speaking of awards, Charli was named ‘Hitmaker of the Year’ by the Billboard Women in Music Awards.
Track #12: Caught in the Middle
Now here’s the love song this album did not yet have. I’m not a romantic but I still think you can’t have a well-balanced record without including one track dedicated to a special someone. I’m more partial to Charli’s edgier songs, but this one is nice.
Charli XCX Fact #12: Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
She’s already been on SNL, which I think is a big honor. It was just last week with Martin Freeman as host.
Track #13: Need Ur Luv
I find it interesting that they set-up the record to end with the only 3 “slow” songs. It makes the end drag, which is unfortunate after the hard-hitting, rock anthem start (and middle). The track itself is pretty but not the high note I hoped this excellent album would end on. After the crazy ride the first 10 songs put us on I wanted to go out with a BANG!
Charli XCX Fact #13: Seeing Colors
Charli has synesthesia, which causes someone to have some of their senses linked to each other. Hers manifests by making her see music in different colors. She has said, “I see music in colours. I love music that’s black, pink, purple or red – but I hate music that’s green, yellow or brown.”
You can read more about the condition on Wikipedia.
There’s the album and the basics. Hopefully you’re now a fan too! I got my facts from Wikipedia (only the most trusted of sources here!) and this here Vulture article, so check them out to learn more! Happy listening.
Love & Luck,
Banner Photo: Superb Wallpapers