The nom de pop of Charlotte Aitchison, Charli XCX mixes influences and inspirations as diverse as the Spice Girls, Kate Bush, Lil Wayne, Quentin Tarantino, and Twin Peaks into moody yet catchy pop. She began making music at an early age while growing up in Hertfordshire, England, and released a pair of singles, 2008’s “Emelline/Art Bitch” and “!Franchesckaar!,” while still in her teens. She also recorded her first album that year, which she sold at concerts although it never saw an official release. Three years later she returned with a slew of new material, including the singles “Stay Away” and “Nuclear Seasons”; the mixtapes Super Girls, Super Love and I Like Boys Who Cry, which respectively gathered the female and male artists who shaped her music; and cameos on Starkey’s “Lost in Space” and Alex Metric’s “End of the World.” Her first original mixtape, Heartbreaks and Earthquakes, arrived in May 2012 and was followed by her U.S. debut EP, You’re the One, and another mixtape, Super Ultra. She scored another hit that year when she appeared on the Icona Pop single “I Love It,” which she co-wrote.
Early in 2013, the single “You (Ha Ha Ha)” arrived shortly before Charli XCX’s full-length debut, True Romance, dropped that April. Though the album earned critical acclaim, Aitchison was already working on her next album later that year, working with collaborators as diverse as Weezer, Stargate, and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij and issuing the single “Superlove” in December. However, her big break came in 2014, when she collaborated with Iggy Azalea on the single “Fancy.” The song became both artists’ first number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 that May (Aitchison also co-wrote “Beg for It,” which appeared on Azalea’s Reclassified and featured Danish singer/songwriter MØ).
Also that month, XCX released the single, “Boom Clap,” which introduced a more streamlined, accessible sound. Featured on the soundtrack to the film adaptation of the young adult novel The Fault in Our Stars, it charted in the Top Ten in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia, becoming her biggest solo hit to date. The single also appeared on the full-length Sucker, which arrived that December. Along with “Boom Clap,” the album spawned several more singles, including “Break the Rules,” “Famous,” and ‘Doing It,” featuring Rita Ora. Sucker reached the top thirty on the U.S. Billboard 200, and peaked at number 15 on the U.K. albums chart.
In 2015, she appeared on Ty Dolla $ign’s single “Drop That Kitty” alongside Tinashe and collaborated with Mr. Oizo on his Hand in the Fire EP. Early in 2016, XCX launched her boutique label, Vroom Vroom, releasing an EP by the same name that featured PC Music’s Hannah Diamond and SOPHIE, and singles by RIVRS and Cuckoolander. In March 2017, she released the Number 1 Angel mixtape, which featured contributions by MØ and CupcakKe. A second mixtape, Pop 2, followed that December, and included the single “Out of My Head,” featuring Alma and Tove Lo. ~ Heather Phares