Charli XCX fans love her frankness. There isn’t much that’s off-limits for Charli to address in her music. She is also known for calling out destructive music-industry dynamics, particularly warped standards for women. When she’s asked to tone it down, rein it in, and just be more commercial, she’s gone public: “They were like, ‘We just need you to post every Tuesday about your flaws and maybe you could post some pictures with dogs,’” she told Dazed’s A Future World podcast in 2022.
When she made CRASH, she took a different approach. What would happen if Charli XCX did play the pop star game?
The concept: “A commentary on navigating the sadistic nature of pop music”
“Imagine if this entire album campaign was just a commentary on navigating the major label system and the sadistic nature of pop music as a whole?” Charli tweeted at the start of 2022.
The word “authentic” is often used about Charli XCX – she is a writer (for herself and others), an executive producer, and gives off a general no-bullshit air. “I’ve definitely had that narrative surrounding me: ‘Oh, she can write a song, she is authentic,’” Charli has said. “I hate saying that about myself, but I feel comfortable to toy with the idea of being the complete opposite because I know that I have the receipts.”
The initial idea behind CRASH was to do everything a compliant pop star would do – working with an A&R, taking pitch songs, using interpolations – as “a personal test to see whether I can handle it and whether that makes me happy and how it makes me feel”.