Charli XCX will bring her seriously good pop to the Showbox SoDo on July 25.
In her video for “Break the Rules,” Britpop enfant terrible Charli XCX — in town Saturday (July 25) — swaggers through a schoolyard in a flouncy cheerleader skirt jeering, “I don’t wanna go to school! I just wanna break the rules!” over a descending power bass line that won’t quit.
It’s a faux-guileless, bad-girl gesture, in a “Clueless” kind of way — a later line extols “getting high and getting wrecked” — but it’s also an apt introduction to a remarkable young woman who at 24 has already been making seriously good pop music for several years.
You probably saw her in the video of Iggy Azalea’s monster hit, “Fancy,” which, incidentally, Charli XCX co-composed. She also appeared with Swedish duo Icona Pop on the smash single “I Love It” and had a hit single in her own right with the ridiculously infectious “Boom Clap,” included on her punked-up second album, “Sucker.”
Born Charlotte Emma Aitchison and raised in Bishop’s Stortford, an upmarket London suburb, she started writing songs when she was 14, trying them out at local warehouse raves, using her MSN messenger handle as a stage name.
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An unapologetic popster, she said in a phone interview earlier this month that her inspirations were Britney Spears and the Spice Girls. She has no patience with critics who disparage those artists.
“I think that’s really stupid,” she said in a thick North London accent. “I think Britney’s amazing. Incredible production. She’s the one who made me want to be a pop star.”
Like Spears, Aitchison is highly visual.
“When I’m writing songs, I see the video,” she said.
You can feel that on “Hanging Around,” a song that captures the erotic phlegm of teen ennui, then suddenly explodes with the line, “I wanna learn Japanese.”
“I really don’t know where that came from,” said Aitchison. “It just popped into my brain. I like painting pictures into other peoples’ brains.”
It’s not clear at this point whether Aitchison will be painting those pictures as a pop star, on stage, or as a composer, behind the scenes.
“I don’t crave the attention,” she said. “Whatever happens, happens. I just want to write songs with my friends and not take anything too seriously.”
Aitchison shares the bill here with a songwriter who shares her visual sensibility, Jack Antonoff, of the groups fun. and Bleachers.
“He’s an incredible writer,” she said. “He knows how to create a hooky song.”
Takes one to know one. “Sucker” brims with hooky songs that also shimmy with charged sexuality. “Body of My Own” is an ode to onanism. “Famous” exults in over-the-top teenage fantasy and “Breaking Up” in blowing off a bad boyfriend (“Everything was wrong with you”).
While Charli XCX affirms that she is a feminist, she denies she has deliberately cultivated a wild image. (Never mind the night she asked someone in her dressing room if the show had been OK, because she had sex beforehand.)
“I never told the media I’m wild,” she protested. “They just think I am.”
After a pause, she added, with a cheerleader wink you could see over the phone, “You’ll just have to come to the show and find out.”