- © Dan Curwin
Charlotte Emma Aitchison (born 2 August 1992), better known by her stage name Charli XCX, is an English singer and songwriter.
XCX was signed to IAMSOUND Records in 2010 and released her debut EP, You're the One, in June 2012. After a year-long delay, she released her debut major label studio album, True Romance, in April 2013. She wrote and is credited on "I Love It" with Icona Pop, which went to No. 1 in the UK, and featured on "Fancy" with Iggy Azalea, which went to No.1 in the U.S. The release of "Boom Clap" gave XCX her first top 10 hit as a solo artist on the Billboard Hot 100. She later released her second major-label studio album, Sucker, in December 2014.
XCX was born in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, the daughter of a Scottish father and an Indian mother from Uganda. She grew up in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire. She started writing songs when she was 14 years old. She attended Bishop's Stortford College and left the school in 2010.
At the age of 14, XCX began recording her debut album on a loan granted by her parents. In early 2008, she began posting songs from the album, as well as numerous other demos, on her official MySpace. This caught the attention of a man called Chaz, who was running numerous illegal warehouse raves in London, which became her first true gigs. Despite the illicit nature of these gigs her parents were supportive of her career and attended several raves with her. Two singles, "!Franchesckaar!" and double A-side "Emelline"/"Art Bitch", were released in late 2008 under Orgy Music. XCX's debut studio album, 14, featuring the former single, was never commercially released, although several promotional copies were issued and copies were given away at her earliest gigs. After being signed to Asylum Records in 2010, she took a break from music in what she describes as a "lost" period.
In May 2011, she released her first single in nearly three years, "Stay Away", followed by "Nuclear Seasons" in November, both produced by Ariel Rechtshaid and released exclusively in the United Kingdom. These singles gained attention from Pitchfork Media, where she gained Best New Track accolades for both tracks, with the former being ranked #35 on their Best Tracks of 2011 list. In late 2011, a five-track promotional sampler of Aitchison's debut album surfaced. All tracks were early demos, including an early version of "You're the One", titled "In the Dark". She also released two free mixtapes via SoundCloud, containing tracks by her female and male influences, the first titled Super Girls, SuperLove and the second titled I Like Boys Who Cry. On 12 May 2012, she released her first original mixtape, titled Heartbreaks and Earthquakes, a one-track file consisting of eight songs, including "How Can I". She supported Santigold and Coldplay on tour throughout summer.
On 12 June 2012, XCX released her debut EP, entitled You're the One, which she worked with Patrik Berger, Ariel Rechtshaid and Todd Rundgren. The EP was released in Australia under Warner Music, United Kingdom under Asylum Records and Atlantic Records, and United States under IAMSOUND Records, featuring "You're the One" and "Nuclear Seasons", as well as remixes of both tracks. On 14 June, "You're the One" was released as her third single off the EP, along with the music video. The song charted within the Billboard US Hot Singles Sales and Dance Singles Sales at number ten and five, respectively. The EP was later released in September in the United Kingdom and Australia, the UK version featuring the title track and "So Far Away", as well as three remixes. The Australian version contained the title track, "Stay Away", and "Nuclear Seasons". The Australian edition was also the only version of the EP to be released physically on CD. Her second original mixtape, Super Ultra, was released exclusively through her website on 7 November 2012, featuring 8 separate tracks.
XCX co-wrote the song "I Love It", which would be later recorded by Icona Pop as well as becoming the breakthrough hit for the Swedish duo. Member Caroline Hjelt described Charli XCX's original demo as "more cute, in a way…really cool and cocky". It entered the Swedish Singles Chart the following month at number 48, and after two months on the chart, the song peaked at number two for three consecutive weeks. After its January 2013 appearance on an episode of Girls, the song performed better in digital downloads than it had upon initial release. Ten days later it entered the Billboard Hot 100, eventually climbing to number seven on the chart. XCX performed the song for the first time with Icona Pop in April 2013, after seeing them back stage at a South by Southwest showcase where both acts were playing.
Her second studio album and debut major label studio album, True Romance, was released on 12 April 2013. The album peaked at number eighty-five on the UK Albums Chart. XCX explained the meaning being the album's title: "Every corner of my own romantic history is explored on this record, so for me, it's very raw, it's very honest, and it's very true." The album is named after Quentin Tarantino's 1993 film of the same name, which is sampled on "Velvet Dreaming" from the Super Ultra mixtape, also Charli revealed on her official Twitter account that there would be a deluxe edition of the album. On 9 April, the standard edition of album became available to stream on Pitchfork Media in full. The album failed to appear on any international main albums charts, but it did reach numbed five on the US Billboard Top Heatseekers and number eleven on the Australian Hitseekers Albums Chart, reaching the equivalent peak of number two hundred and five and number one hundred eleven respectively. The album was well received by music critics, with an average score of 76/100 on Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". As well as earning four of five stars from AllMusic. In March 2013, XCX was named one of Fuse TV's 30 must-see artists at SXSW. In support of the album's release, XCX embarked on a three-date UK promotional tour in April 2013.
In June 2013, XCX confirmed she was working on her third album and has worked with Weezer, John Hill, StarGate duo and Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend for her upcoming album. In September 2013, XCX supported American rock band Paramore on the UK leg of their self-titled tour, spanning two dates at Wembley Arena. On 2 December, the lead single of Charli's second major-label album, "SuperLove", was released with an accompanying music video. Although the song was originally announced as the lead single from Charli's then-untitled second major-label studio album, it will not be included on her upcoming album. The single reached number sixty-two on the UK Singles Chart, becoming Charli's first solo entry on the chart.
In February 2014, XCX featured on Australian recording artist Iggy Azalea's song "Fancy". On 4 March 2014, the music video for "Fancy", which XCX and Azalea worked on together, was released. The music video was heavily inspired by the film Clueless, with Azalea portraying Cher Horowitz (originally played by Alicia Silverstone) and Charli portraying Tai Frasier (originally played by Brittany Murphy). In May 2014, "Fancy" hit the number one spot on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming both artists' first number one single on the chart.
In May 2014, she contributed the song "Boom Clap" for the soundtrack to The Fault in Our Stars. The song was released as the album's first single and eventually peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, it also charted within the UK Singles Chart at number 6, as well as certifying Platinum in Australia. In August 2014, Charli announced the title of her third studio album to be, Sucker, which would be released 21 October 2014. The second single from the album, "Break the Rules", was released on 18 August, with the music video featuring Rose McGowan was released on 25 August.
In September 2014, Katy Perry announced via her Twitter page that XCX would open all shows on the last leg of her Prismatic World Tour. A song recorded by XCX and Duran Duran's frontman Simon LeBon was included in the original soundtrack of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 film, which was released in November. The same month, Iggy Azalea's reissue album Reclassified was also released and XCX co-wrote "Beg for It", which features Danish singer-songwriter MØ. XCX joined the list of the 9th Annual Billboard Women in Music honorees as a hit-maker.
XCX mentionned Debbie Harry and Eminem amongst her influences, adding that "the best artists are the ones who constantly change — Madonna, Bowie". XCX's music has been compared to the music of the 1980s with "the spookiness of Siouxsie Sioux" or "flawless early-Madonna". When she mentionned influences, she reached for names like "Björk, Siouxsie Sioux and Quentin Tarantino", and named "Siouxsie Sioux as her hero". She said that her "dream collaboration would be with someone like Björk, Kate Bush, or even Dionne Warwick". She cited Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" as one of her favourite songs. Her other influences include Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Spice Girls, Uffie, Brooke Candy and Lil Wayne. For her third solo album project, she listed The Hives, Weezer and Ramones as influences. Various sources have listed her as goth pop or dark pop.
When XCX was around the age of 15, a promoter recruited her for some of her first live shows, asking her to perform at raves and warehouse parties in East London. When he asked for the name to use on flyers for the events, she told him to "just put 'Charli XCX'", which was her MSN Messenger screen name when she was younger. She said that she chose the name because she thought "it looked cool and sounded catchy".
According to XCX, the initials no longer explicitly stand for anything, and simply represent everything she has done so far. Upon signing to her label, however, XCX noted that it could stand for "X rated Content".
Aitchison experiences sound-to-colour synaesthesia. She states, "I see music in colours. I love music that's black, pink, purple or red—but I hate music that's green, yellow or brown."
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