The Ultimate Charli XCX Primer


The first Charli song I ever heard and still one of my all-time favorites, this Ariel Rechtshaid-produced ballad is full of moody atmosphere and doomed romance: “Do you remember when I said, that first time we met, ‘Stay away,’” Charli croons on the chorus. “Why couldn’t you stay away?”

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Though she’s put out quite a few classic albums and memorable mixtapes, Charli’s discography is also peppered with some excellent one-off singles, like this giddy, effervescent bop released in late 2013. Those handclaps!

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In the summer of 2014, Charli had her biggest solo hit yet with the dreamy “Boom Clap.” Rather than trying to replicate its formula, her subsequent album, “Sucker,” was full of sassy pop-punk and iconoclastic lyrics (the leadoff title track even included a prescient jab at the pop producer of that moment, Dr. Luke). One of my favorite “Sucker” songs is this glammy kiss-off, which takes a hilariously blithe approach to a relationship’s demise: “Everything was wrong with you, so breaking up was easy to do.”

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This sleek and brazenly minimalist 2016 single represents a pivotal turning point in Charli’s career, when she stopped chasing pop success and veered off into her own lane. She also found some simpatico new collaborators in the PC Music collective, including A.G. Cook and the visionary artist Sophie, who co-produced her experimental “Vroom Vroom” EP.

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Another irresistible one-off single, from 2017, this chiming, tongue-in-cheek ode to daydreaming about boys (*Super Mario coin noise*) featured a playful, star-studded music video.

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To date, I’d say Charli’s full-length masterpiece is “Pop 2,” an imaginative and futuristic 10-song mixtape that balanced her most outré sensibilities with infectious melodies. It was also highly collaborative, co-produced with Cook and chock-full of featured artists. The then-rising star Kim Petras and the K-pop rapper Jay Park make cameos on this highlight, which captures the bubbly apprehension of a crush.



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