There's more to Charli XCX than meets the eye — certainly more than the collaborations that have ricocheted her onto the international stage. The addictive pop and rap hooks in I Love It (with Swedish outfit Icona Pop) and Fancy (with Australian artist Iggy Azalea) respectively have succeeded in making the English singer-songwriter heard just about everywhere. So is her solo Boom Clap, the stellar track off the movie The Fault in Our Stars.
Her second album, Sucker (2014), takes on punk-led punches. The 22-year old English singer-songwriter's playlist before making the record consisted of The Ramones, The Vibrators and Bow Wow Wow — varied influences that are certainly felt in hits such as Break the Rules and Famous. The music video for the latter's a tongue-in-cheek take on the rising social anxiety surrounding internet culture, featuring the protagonist in a typically '90s get-up — choker necklace, bare midriff and skater mini — mimicking a throwback to a certain pop princess of that decade. While Charli XCX isn't a mammoth of a name compared to Ms. Spears', she's slowly getting there, one addictive pop track at a time.
1. Sucker has more balls
"It's more fearless. I used to really worry what people thought of me. Now it's not something that I even think about anymore, and that's really liberating and allowed me to grow as a person and as an artist. I want to make a straight-up pop record but with balls, basically. That's definitely a lot harder to do than to just make another super safe, cool record."
2. Her stage name (her real name is Charlotte Aitchison) was almost Keep Off the Grass XO...almost
"When it came to me deciding on my stage name I kind of panicked and I was like, 'MSN name! Let's just go with that'. And it stuck and here I am with my MSN name as my stage name still. I had one that I think was 'Keep Off The Grass XO'."
3. Email My Heart is one of her favourite Britney Spears' songs
"It's just such a great concept for a song and I've heard her talk about it in an interview. They just asked her, 'Why do you have a song called Email My Heart?' And she was like, 'Well you know, everybody does emails'. This girl is a genius! It's also back when Britney had this soul voice, which we don't really hear so much any more."
4. She sees colour in creation
"True romance was purple. I think the production was so much more subtle and bruised — so that was making me think in colour. It's mainly when I'm making my music in the studio that that happens. I see Sucker as being the colour red and pink, and Boom Clap as a silver song."
5. She thinks that people have a lot of time for pop music now
"Pop music has become really enriched with some incredible artists who bring a different meaning to pop and are inspired by a lot of things in music outside the genre of pop. I think in the '90s, people were definitely way more divided about pop music. It was like a dirty word. I think there will always be people who take that mentality. But I think generally people have a lot of time for pop music now."