Charlotte Emma Aitchison (born 2 August 1992), better known by her stage name Charli XCX, is an English singer and songwriter.
Charli XCX released her debut single independently in 2008 and initially performed at warehouse raves in London. She signed to Asylum Records in 2010 and released two mixtapes, Heartbreaks and Earthquakes and Super Ultra, in 2012. Charli XCX's major label debut album, True Romance, was released in 2013, accompanied by singles including "You (Ha Ha Ha)" and "Nuclear Seasons".
She rose to international fame during 2013 and 2014 when she was featured on two major hit singles: Icona Pop's "I Love It" and Iggy Azalea's "Fancy". Her 2014 single "Boom Clap" from the soundtrack album of The Fault in Our Stars became a top ten hit in a number of countries. It also preceded the release of her second album, Sucker, which featured the singles "Break the Rules", "Doing It", and "Famous".
Charlotte Emma Aitchison was born on 2 August 1992, in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, to a Scottish father and an Indian mother from Uganda. She grew up in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, and attended Bishop's Stortford College, though she left the school in 2010. Aitchison also studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, but left during the second year of her degree course.
Aitchison started writing songs when she was 14 years old and began recording an 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 page. This caught the attention of a promoter running numerous illegal warehouse raves and parties in east London, who invited her to perform. Aitchison was billed on flyers under the stage name Charli XCX, her MSN Messenger screen name when she was younger. Despite the illicit nature of the gigs, her parents were supportive of her career and attended several raves with her. She released two singles, "!Franchesckaar!" and double A-side "Emelline"/"Art Bitch", in late 2008 under Orgy Music. The album she recorded at this time, 14 (which features 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 the single, "Stay Away", followed by "Nuclear Seasons" in November. Both tracks were produced by Ariel Rechtshaid and released exclusively in the United Kingdom. These singles gained attention from music website Pitchfork Media, where she earned the Best New Track accolades for both tracks, with the former being ranked on their Best Tracks of 2011 list. In May 2012, Charli XCX released her first mixtape, Heartbreaks and Earthquakes, a one-track file consisting of eight songs. She supported Santigold and Coldplay on tour during that year. Her second original mixtape, Super Ultra, was released exclusively through her website in November 2012.
Charli XCX co-wrote and contributed vocals to the 2012 single "I Love It", which was recorded by Swedish pop duo Icona Pop and became a breakthrough hit for both acts in 2013. The song entered the US Billboard Hot 100 chart after its appearance in an early 2013 episode of the television show Girls, eventually climbing to number seven on the chart. It reached number one on the UK Singles Chart. Charli XCX's own single "You're the One" was released in mid 2012 and was named among the 20 Best Songs of 2012 by Billboard. The succeeding single, "You (Ha Ha Ha)", was listed in Spin magazine and in Consequence of Sound as one of the best songs of 2013.
Charli XCX's debut studio album, True Romance, was released in April 2013, following the single, "What I Like". This is what she said of the album: "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." It peaked at number 85 on the UK Albums Chart, at number five on the US Billboard Top Heatseekers, and at number 11 on the Australian Hitseekers Albums Chart. True Romance was received well by music critics, earning a 76/100 on Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Charli XCX began work on her second album in mid 2013. Later that year she released the single "SuperLove", which became her first solo chart entry on the UK Singles Chart, at number 62. In early 2014, she was featured on Australian rapper Iggy Azalea's single "Fancy"; the track topped the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming both artists' first number-one single on the chart. Charli XCX expanded her portfolio of songwriting for other artists during this period, with credits on Azalea's 2014 single "Beg for It", Ryn Weaver's debut single "OctaHate", and material for acts including Sky Ferreira, Neon Jungle, Rihanna, and Gwen Stefani.
In mid 2014, Charli XCX contributed the song "Boom Clap" to the soundtrack of the film The Fault in Our Stars. "Boom Clap" peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number six in the UK, and was certified platinum in Australia. "Boom Clap" was included on Charli XCX's second album, Sucker, which was released in December 2014 in North America and February 2015 in Europe. The subsequent single, "Break the Rules", charted within the top 10 in Australia and Germany, and "Doing It" (featuring fellow British singer Rita Ora) peaked at number 8 on the UK Singles Chart. Charli XCX opened for Katy Perry on the European leg of her Prismatic World Tour in early 2015, headlined her own UK tour, and featured alongside R&B artist Tinashe on rapper Ty Dolla Sign's single "Drop That Kitty".
In a July 2015 interview with British fashion magazine i-D, Charli XCX said that she was working on her third album and described it as "the most pop thing, and the most electronic thing" she had done.
Charli XCX's music draws from multiple genres; mainly pop punk and electropop, also showcasing dark pop, indietronica and witch house in her sound. Charli mentioned 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 mentioned 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.
Charli XCX 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." She considers herself a feminist, and wrote her song "Body of My Own" as a "feminist statement."
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