Charli XCX is a sell-out. Or, well, that’s the goal.
Over the past few months, our dearest Charlotte Aitchison, She of Track 10 Fame, has been distancing from left-lane, artsy-fartsy, experimental alt-hyper-pop princess sonic territory and not-so-subtly swerving towards a Big Ol’ Pop Era in the works.
She’s (jokingly?) talked of selling her soul and giving in to her label Atlantic Records’ demands, sarcastically taken part in TikTok trends, signed up for big endorsement deals and done big mainstream club bops. She’s even hanging out with Addison Rae.
Basically, this is her Evil, Soulless Illuminati Major Label Puppet Era – not entirely unlike Marina‘s Electra Heart era – and she’s living (and/or dying) for it.
It’s not just the sound, either: Charli’s going as big with her hair as she is with her music, opting for an ’80s goth pin-up va-va-voom aesthetic for the cover art of her new single, “Good Ones” – one of the best covers of the year, easily – supplying a version of herself that feels like True Romance‘s bombshell babe of an older sister.
She’s already leaning in hard to this new alter-ego, having her fun playing a dead-inside supreme pop ruler with a firm, cold grasp on the music landscape, right down to the press release: “Today, I, the inimitable Charli XCX, am releasing a brand new single ‘Good Ones’, accompanied by a twisted, dramatic and quite frankly electrifying music video,” she declared on Thursday (September 2).
“The first single of my new chapter embraces all that my life has to offer in today’s world – fame, glamour, inner demons and global hits. ‘Good Ones’ was produced by Oscar Holter of Max Martin’s Wolf Cousins entity, and laments my inability to keep hold of healthy relationships, instead being endlessly drawn back to the dysfunctional and toxic. Filmed in Mexico and co-directed by my new favorite director: Hannah Lux Davis, the ‘Good Ones’ video sees me dramatically mourning the untimely loss of my partner as I battle with the realization that once again I’ve abandoned the goodness in my life, in favor of the sinister, with a visual aesthetic that marks a new era of me: Charli XCX.”
And, the best part: “As you already know, I am an iconic figure in the arts, and have helped expand the landscape of popular music over the last decade by seamlessly traversing the underground and the mainstream with my output. My innovative approach has opened up new possibilities within the pop sphere for both myself and others. You’re welcome.”
We love a humble queen, don’t we?
As for the actual music? First things first, the bad news: “Good Ones” is, like all music in the streaming world, just too short. Barely over two minutes long? Come on now. It easily could have benefitted from at least another minute or so. But, well, that’s what you get for living in an attention span-deprived TikTok world.
The good? “Good Ones” is a good one indeed, and makes good on the whole premise of this era already. And with a music video like this one, who cares if the song pulses through the speakers faster than a podcast ad?
It’s no surprise that the brief song is a banger, co-written with some of the absolute best writers in the game – Mattman and Robin, Oscar Holter and Noonie Bao – who’ve penned bops for everyone from Britney to Carly Jae Repsen to Tove Lo. (And that’s all with Charli, who is already a hit machine in her own right.)
Kicking off with a very Natalia Kills “Mirrors”-esque deadly synth intro, the pulsing Scandi-pop banger is a tight, razor-sharp production, complete with an infectious pulse and a simple, sweet earworm of a chorus (“ooo-oo-oo-ooo“). It’s a bittersweet bye-bye, delivered by a superstar who simply can’t be tamed. It’s not you, it’s Charli, baby.
“I let the good ones go” is also a funny and fitting line for an artist like Charli XCX who, time and time again, has handed off mega mainstream hits to other pop stars in prior years. It’s about time she’s claimed some for herself.
The “Good Ones” visual is Charli XCX having a major Main Pop Girl™ moment, as she arrives at a funeral for a former lover and pays tribute in the form of fab goth girl choreography that ought to make Mother Monster proud. She looks absolutely stunning in every single shot. A funeral femme fatale. A cemetery sexpot. A gravestone glamazon. A burial site baddie.
Who wouldn’t want a major pop spectacle at their final send-off? A bunch of pantsless, hip-thrusting dancers kneeling in the dirt? Is there a sign-up sheet somewhere? Hopefully she can make this a full-time touring gig.
It’s looking like the Evil Pop Album’s not coming ’round until March of 2022 (at least that’s what her gravestone suggests), but this is one killer way to kick off the campaign – a real um yes queen skinny legend versace boots the house down slay queen hunty mama and oop daddy work charli xcx snatch my wig, if you will.
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