At the age of 20, Charli XCX released her debut album titled “True Romance.” The album was widely celebrated and served to establish Charli as a shining new voice in the world of pop music. “True Romance” was a synth-pop masterpiece, as it jumped on the rising trend of using synth and reverb in addition to more traditional instruments to create melodies.
Her next album, “Sucker,” released just a year later, was lighthearted and leaned into the pop genre much more than her previous record. Songs like “Boom Clap” instantly became hits and even made their way onto the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. With the success of her second album, it seemed as if Charli would continue to charge head-first into more “traditional” feel-good pop music.
However, looking at her next two mixtapes, Charli has done nothing but stay true to herself and her music, carving out a space for her unique genre of synth-pop/candy-rap which has gained an almost cult-like following. Songs off “Number 1 Angel” and “Pop 2” bordered on dissonant at times and featured a much heavier bass than Charli XCX fans may have been accustomed to. While these mixtapes coincided with a rise in popularity of EDM and electronic music, Charli’s sound remains distinct. This is because her music still follows the format of “traditional” pop with verses and choruses, each song building momentum as it goes, as well as the fact that the majority of her songs do not have drops like you would expect in EDM.
However, the use of synth, reverb, chop/screw, and pitch-altering allows her music to take on a deeply electronic, techno feel that goes far beyond music that sits comfortably at the center of modern pop music — think Britney Spears but she’s giving you much, much more. While her music is undeniably pop, it is also distinctly queer, as are her recent collabs with artists like Big Frieda, Pablo Vittar, Kim Petras, CupcakKe, Yaeji, and others. Charli continues to push the envelope by expanding the realm of what we consider to be pop music, while consistently delivering hit after hit. Charli XCX is an extremely dynamic artist as can be seen not only in her music but also in her fashion and the performative nature of her videos. Her artistic eye and growing network of queer, artistic individuals continue to drive her music to newfound heights and keep us on the tips of our toes.