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Charli XCX's Stockholm Scream Led To One Big 'Sucker'

"I just sort of screamed into a microphone for ages," the British pop singer Charli XCX says of the time leading up to <em>Sucker</em>.
Bella Howard
Courtesy of the artist
"I just sort of screamed into a microphone for ages," the British pop singer Charli XCX says of the time leading up to Sucker.

Maybe you didn't know it, but it's been Charli XCX's year. The British pop singer (born Charlotte Aitchison) sang the vocal hook in the de facto song of the summer, Iggy Azalea's "Fancy," while her own "Boom Clap" single infused The Fault In Our Stars' soundtrack with slick star power.

She's particularly known for her collaborations — writing and appearing in Icona Pop's "I Love It" — and she's already looking ahead, with some co-written songs scheduled to appear on the new Gwen Stefani record. But Charli XCX's second album, Sucker, comes out Tuesday, and her name is the only one on it. It's a boisterous punk-pop mix, full of snark and rebellion.

Charli XCX recently spoke to NPR's Rachel Martin about dumb pop songs, Sucker's punk genesis, and the idea that "People always expect me to be a really bitchy, horrible person, but I'm just super-chill and un-diva-ish."

Interview Highlights

On being an anti-pop star

I make pop music, but I do it on my own terms. I'll never play the game, so to speak, just for success. I'll always follow my heart and make the music I want to make.

On Sucker's noisier beginnings

It was never a plan; I just ended up making a lot of punk songs. I just wanted to not make pop music for a while. Because I felt like I got so caught up in my brain, trying to write hits, that it became super-unenjoyable for me. It felt like I was trying to become a machine.

So I went to Stockholm and wrote loads of two-minute songs where I just sort of screamed into a microphone for ages. That eventually led me to being able to write some pop music again.

On being named executive producer of Sucker

It was always important to me that I was recognized for doing that, because there's such a huge misconception about women in the industry and how we're all supposedly puppets. I just wanted to make it clear that's definitely not the case with me.

I just enjoy making music. I want my music, whether it's sung by other people or sung by myself, to affect the way the Top 40 radio sounds. I want to heavily influence it with things that have come directly from my brain.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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