Charli XCX uses collaborations to create a music kaleidoscope on her third album
Former Bishop’s Stortford College student and global pop pioneer Charli XCX has unveiled a brand new album.
Charli, the singer’s third studio album, was released through Asylum and Atlantic Records UK on September 13. Its release is followed by transatlantic tour Charli LIVE this autumn.
The art of collaboration is at the heart of the starlet’s new album and Charli seamlessly binds musical genres from the vast pop spectrum. With executive production by A.G. Cook and Charli XCX, collaborators include Lizzo, Christine and The Queens, Haim, Troye Sivan, Brooke Candy, CupcakKe, Big Freedia, Sky Ferreira, Clairo and Yaeji.
The star – aka Charlotte Aitchison – has so far released three singles from the record. The most recent, Gone, dropped in July and features French singer-songwriter Christine and the Queens.
The video, which now has over five million views on YouTube, sees the duo tangled in ropes on top of a car until they become free to throw some dance moves.
Prior to its release, Charli tweeted the song is about “feeling isolated and alone in crowded rooms, the feelings of anxiety and learning to be comfortable with who you truly are. It’s about breaking down and breaking free”.
The second Charli track to be released as a single was Blame It On Your Love, which features Lizzo, the American singer, songwriter, rapper and actress.
Directed by Bradley & Pablo and filmed in New York, the video for Blame It On Your Love embraces the imperfect and otherworldly and is intended to pay tribute to a love with no boundaries.
The album’s lead single – and the first to be released, in October 2018 – was a collaboration with Australian singer Troye Sivan, titled 1999.
The catchy avant-pop tune reached number 13 in the UK single charts and the video is packed full of nostalgic references to the late Nineties and early Noughties.
Charli and Troye pay homage to various pop culture moments from the era. She appears as the Spice Girls, Steve Jobs and Mena Suvari’s character in the Oscar-winning film American Beauty. Troye, meanwhile, is seen dressed as the Backstreet Boys, Eminem and Justin Timberlake.
While on screen together, the pair recreate flashes from The Matrix, Titanic and The Sims, as well as Marilyn Manson and Rose McGowan’s iconic 1998 MTV music awards appearance.
In the lyrics, Charli XCX references Britney Spears’ 1998 hit, ...Baby One More Time, and sings that she wants to “take a ride to my old neighbourhood”, which is Bishop’s Stortford.
The 27-year-old, who was born in Cambridge and raised in Start Hill, cut her gigging teeth at The Half Moon in North Street by performing at the Bishop’s Stortford Acoustic Club, a fortnightly fixture at the music venue which continues to showcase burgeoning musicians to this day.
She also exhibited her musical prowess at the Stortford Music Festival, which has, over the years, hosted other home-grown talent such as Sam Smith, George Ezra and 2018 EuroVision Song Contest contender SuRie.
When she was 14, songstress Charli convinced her parents to grant her a loan to record an album – which she repaid as soon as she made back the cash. In early 2008, she began sharing her songs from the album on her MySpace page and this captured the attention of Chaz Cool, a promoter running warehouse raves and parties in London. She was invited to perform and billed under her new stage name, Charli XCX, which was her MSN Messenger display name.
Despite the illicit nature of the gigs, her parents were supportive and went along to see her sing. When she was 18, Charli moved to London to study for a fine art degree at UCL’s Slade School of Fine Art but dropped out in her second year.
In 2013, three years after she left Bishop's Stortford College, Charli shot to fame with her debut single, I Love It, a collaboration with Swedish electropop duo Icona Pop. It reached number 1 in the UK chart.
In the years that have followed, the hit maker has accrued three NME Awards, two Billboard Music Awards, a YouTube Music Award, a Teen Choice Award, two SESAC Pop Awards, an Attitude Magazine Award, plus nominations at the Grammys, BRIT Awards and MTV VMAs, EMAs and IMAs.
From May until November 2018 she went on a US stadium tour with American megastar Taylor Swift in support of her sixth studio album, Reputation. Charli XCX was an opening act along with Camila Cabello, the American-Cuban singer-songwriter.
This year, as a special guest of Vogue, Charli attended the Met Gala, the world-famous annual fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City.
She is now looking towards her Charli LIVE tour this autumn, which includes London’s O2 Brixton Academy for a momentous Hallowe’en show.
The UK Charli LIVE dates include:
- October 27 – SWG3 Galvanisers, Glasgow;
- October 28 – O2 Institute, Birmingham;
- October 30 – Albert Hall, Manchester
- October 31 – O2 Brixton Academy, London
All four dates are sold out, but fans can buy tickets to the Europe shows. For full details, visit www.charli-the-album.co.uk.
More by this authorCat Barkley