Artists Of The Year CMU Approved

CMU Artists Of The Year 2013: Charli XCX

By | Published on Wednesday 11 December 2013

Charli XCX

Each weekday in the run up to the Christmas break, we will reveal another of our ten favourite artists of the year. To see each artist as they’re revealed, sign up to receive the CMU Daily or check this page. Today’s artist is Charli XCX…

Of all the popstars to make it big this year – ie to complete the rocky transition from sapling artist to chart player with real long-game potential – 90s child Charli XCX perhaps dealt the winning hand. Sorry, Miley.

Having first self released regrettably-titled (as was the trend at that time, let’s be fair) singles ‘!Franchesckaar!’ and ‘Emelline/Art Bitch’ via her DIY label Orgy Music, Charli Aitchinson was noticed by label A&Rs while playing the LDN rave scene as a teen and handed a deal at a tender age, signing to Warner’s Asylum Records in 2010.

Like Sky Ferreira, another of 2013’s breaking alt-pop acts, an at-first starry eyed XCX was then surprised to find herself in limbo, sidelined while she (and Warner) tried to find a niche.

Also like Ferreira, she was pushed at various co-writers and producers, at last hitting it off with Ariel Rechtshaid, and falling neatly in line with his sharp incline from low-grade pilot to We Are Scientists (and the Plain White Ts ‘Hey There Delilah’) to big, zeitgeisty creditor on Usher’s ‘Climax’ and (here she is again) Sky Ferreira’s ‘Everything Is Embarrassing’.

All this was in 2011, and gained Aitchinson the ear of mainly States-based critics, who piled praise on tracks like her and Rechtshaid’s sophisti-kitsch mini-hit ‘Stay Away’, and slow-mo synth cyclone ‘Nuclear Seasons’.

The real boost to XCX’s profile, though, came via a co-write and ‘feat’ piggyback on Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It’, which itself hitched a ride with American TV serial ‘Girls’. Since asked if she minds having given away her best-selling baby to Icona Pop, Charli has said “no”, the sanity of which is perhaps easier to appreciate in light of the Pop’s slightly bleak positioning nowadays, as the one-hit poster girls for vodka-wine cocktails. Sad, because Icona Pop used to be good.

Charli XCX, meanwhile, despite taking a (still profitable) back seat on the ‘I Love It’ freight train, is now signed as an on-staff writer with Stargate’s Sony/ATV Stellar Songs hit factory, and, having released one of the year’s highest-flying and most confident pop LPs in ‘True Romance’, is now readying her new solo album for release in 2014.

All while preaching Spice Girls-ian spirit, defiance and independence – which is as laudable a doctrine as any, I suppose. Oh, and she’s bringing back stacker trainers too, or at least trying to. All of which equates, in pop speak (stackers aside), to staying power, a rare commodity in this world of break-fast-disappear-faster artists. The plain, good old fashioned songs to dance and sob to help quite a bit too, of course.

This is Charli’s deep and meaningful (and brilliant) new single ‘SuperLove’, which sees her dressed as a singing candy cane, reliving the many, many style highlights of the 1990s. See? Deep.