Charli XCX wants to be your new queen of summer. Her case? A hot streak of experimental pop bangers that have bent and contorted our pop expectations over the last few months — all of which have led to her latest double release of “Focus” and “No Angel.”
Charli has hit the ground this year running hard and fast, following up last year’s back-to-back mixtapes with a slew of solo singles and collaborations with the likes of Rita Ora, Tove Lo and Lil Xan. The sound of most of these songs suggests one clear goal: finding common ground in pop between the major genres that currently dominate public consciousness. In Charli’s world, PC Music’s bubbly beats get broken up by cracking trap drills while she toys with her own British twang to move between punky, bratty whines and angelic harmonies.
While her previous single “5 in the Morning” leaned hard toward trap, “Focus” and “No Angel” are all about Charli’s pop-princess prowess. The first is an unrepentant earworm, with that trademark XCX style of delivering an almost cruelly addictive, simple chorus. The latter song showcases more of her attitude – it has the effortless cool that makes so many of her songs sound fresh and unmistakably her own.
The real question is whether or not any of these releases will be a runaway hit. Charli has been there before, with “I Love It,” “Fancy” and “Boom Clap”; more recently, she’s pushed herself into a world outside of the expected and the radio-friendly. She’s an artist who leaves even casual fans puzzled as to why she’s not constantly Number One on the charts – but she also seems entirely unbothered by the race that leads some other artists to chart-oriented soundalikes. Leave it to Charli to say it most effectively: “I might not be the biggest, but I’m definitely one of the best.”
i might not be the biggest, but i’m definitely one of the best.