In the ever-changing world of pop music, society has named its ideal pop princesses: think Britney Spears, Madonna, and Lady Gaga. While each artist’s timeless hit singles are dubbed as “guilty pleasures” for listeners, there’s an undeniable love for pop music — even if you don’t want to admit it. In today’s installment of our Artist Spotlight series, we’re featuring one of the most prominent stars of pop music and beyond in the current state of the music industry: Charli XCX. Even if you’re so far removed from today’s pop music, you’ve heard her voice in more places than you think.
Inspired by her MSN Messenger display name when she was younger (it was literally “CharliXCX”), singer/songwriter Charlotte Aitchison adopted a pop star persona that skyrocketed her to success. Charli signed to Asylum Records when she was just 17 years old, taking that time to hone in on her talents and develop relationships with other tastemakers in the scene. The first mega-famous single featuring Charli XCX was Icona Pop’s unforgettable “I Love It.” This pop anthem dropped in 2012 and turned out to become a smash hit everywhere — it’s one of those songs you simply can’t avoid. Charli originally wrote the song and presented it to Icona Pop who loved the empowering essence of the lyrics and the general “fuck it” feeling in Charli’s voice. Since then, Charli’s put out a number of chart-topping hits both on her own and in collaboration with other artists. Her debut album True Romance dropped in 2013, featuring singles like “You’re The One.”
Following her breakout feature with Icona Pop, Iggy Azalea tapped Charli for the 2014 single “Fancy,” making it the first number one single for both artists on the Billboard Hot 100. Much like the vocal style in “I Love It,” Charli’s sass-filled voice in “Fancy” is undeniably iconic and helped to coin a newfound style of pop music. That same year, Charli contributed her song “Boom Clap” to the soundtrack of the film The Fault in Our Stars, peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and included on her second album, Sucker, which dropped in December 2014. Throughout that fruitful year, it seems as though each single from Charli found its way to any speaker system near you — her music was totally inescapable, and we were all here for it.
Judging from the music she’s put out since 2014, it’s apparent that we’re still all here for it. Her 2017 mixtapes Number 1 Angel and Pop 2 stole the hearts of fans around the world and prompted critics to applaud Charli’s capability of such a tremendous output. Beyond her incredible ability to release hit after hit, Charli’s talents as a performer are seriously impressive. She graced the stage at this year’s FORM Arcosanti, performing a bubbly, fun set with A.G. Cook on the decks. For the last song, she brought out SOPHIE and invited everyone in the crowd on stage for the ultimate dance party. When you see Charli perform, it’s downright mesmerizing: she knows exactly how to work the crowd, dancing effortlessly and bringing her unmatched energy to the spotlight.
There’s something to be said about how Charli supports women in the music industry, too. Take her first headlining tour, for example. Named ‘The Girl Power North America Tour,’ Charli recruited Elliphant and FEMME as the opening acts and celebrated the idea of women supporting women. She’s currently on tour with Taylor Swift and Camila Cabello as a support act, too, and she’s promoted the intense girl power generated between all three artists on social media endlessly. Beyond putting on for other women in the scene, she’s had her hand in many different projects to express her position on the topic of feminism. Charli created a documentary about feminism, titled The F Word and Me, following Charli around the world on tour as she explores the intersection between feminism and pop. Additionally, she’s explained that the music video for her single “Boys” was made to “flip the male gaze” on its head to bring awareness to feminist ideals.
All things considered, Charli XCX is the ultimate pop star. Pop music is constantly evolving and capturing inspiration from a wide range of sources, and Charli has flawlessly kept up with the times. She’s a power player in her own accord, but she’s not opposed to lifting others up with her. She’s an inspiration to all genders, all ages, and all walks of life — there’s something for everyone in her music and her unrivaled essence. You just need to press play and find it for yourself.