Charli XCX Changed Pop For The Better

Pop music never sounded so good.


Charli XCX needs no introduction. The effects of her work infiltrate nearly every corner of the pop industry. Since the release of her debut album True Romance back in 2013 her influence in bringing underground pop music to the forefront is unforgettable.

Born in 2000, my adolescence coincides with Charli XCX’s pop progression. Recently reflecting on my teenage years and the importance of music to that time, I realised that Charli XCX’s music played a big part in the transition into womanhood. And like how the singer helped me develop, the same can be said for her impact in the world of pop music.

Charli XCX began her career on MySpace in 2008 where she released a series of singles and mixtapes. The idea of bedroom-pop was still ambiguous at the time, but with the advancement of social media came a new wave of musicians utilising the sharing aspect of the platform. 

2012 saw the release of I Love It a collaboration between XCX and electro-pop duo Icona Pop. The track became one of the best-selling singles of the year and brought attention towards Charli XCX. The song to this day is treasured and an unforgettable video of the singer performing it to an unenthusiastic crowd is often associated with the song.

In 2013 the singer released her debut album True Romance, that despite receiving critical acclaim was missed by the commercial audience. It wasn’t until the release of Fancy, where she featured alongside Iggy Azalea that Charli broke the mainstream.

Following on from the success of Fancy, Charli XCX developed her playful pop sound by adding a rebellion aspect into her music, almost catering to the generic pop formula. In 2015 the album Sucker was released, and finally saw the singer achieve commercial success. During that period her writing credits were piling up and her name was common in the industry. 

But then something changed, the singer started working with artists such as SOPHIE and A.G Cook whilst exploring an experimental side of her music. Hyper-pop at that point was predominantly underground and liaising with bedroom-pop. Charli XCX began experimenting with trap inspired beats and incorporating auto-tune into her tracks. Her 2017 EP Pop 2 demonstrates how ahead of her time she was in terms of collaborations and song writing. Pop 2 featured artists such as Tommy Cash, Dorian Electra, Brooke Candy and Caroline Polachek. All of whom are now dominating the genre of hyper-pop. Charli saw the potential and appreciated their work resulting in an EP that could be considered futuristic. The track Unlock It featuring Jay Park and Kim Petras only further proves this with its current popularity on TikTok.

Charli XCX hasn’t just influenced pop music with just her songs. Her attitude to working and the commitment she exudes contribute to her sound adding an intimate look into her work process. Her attitude to partying and the benefits that dance music has on a positive attitude is striking within her work. Her 2019 album Charli coveys her collaborative attitude and the sense of community she appears to create. Charli boasts the experimental aspect of XCX’s work. The track February 2017 features Yaeji and Clairo, two artists from completely different genres. The choice to incorporate electronic with indie music was risking yet worked within the sphere of the version of pop that XCX invented.

Her song writing ability is well established. Writing hits for pop sensations such as Camila Cabello, Will.I.am and even venturing into the world of K-pop writing for the likes of TXT and BTS.


A post shared by Charli (@charli_xcx)

Maybe her most influential work was her latest album how I’m feeling now, released last year entirely in quarantine. The LP did not have any features yet was intimate lyrically which complemented the large sound that is common within her work. The album was ambiguous but turned-out relatable, addressing anxieties we all face during that period. How I’m feeling now gave a sense of dizziness not often associated with pop music and was messy in all the right ways, almost commenting on the current situation.

It is hard not to gush when writing about Charli XCX. As a fan of hyper-pop, it is extremely hard to ignore the influence that she has had with bringing it into the mainstream. Artists such as 100 Gecs and Dorian Electra have benefited from XCX’s influence. Her all-round attitude to music is admirable and has progressed pop music to places that were never previously imagined. Without Charli XCX pop music would not be in the place that it is today.


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