Charli XCX is a very talented songwriter, but in her own particular way. Don’t look for overly sentimental or introspective lyrics; don’t look for tender melodies, or overly complex song construction. Charli is an expert at crafting a perfect pop song. They tell stories of youthful excitement and abandon. The songs detail crushes, nights of partying, and just general fun having. Charli penned Icona Pop (QRO spotlight on) hit single “I Love It”, which speaks volumes to her ability to craft a pop song with an infectious hook.
On Wednesday, November 13th, Charli XCX played a show at New York’s Irving Plaza (QRO venue review). The floor was filled with concertgoers anxious to dance. LA’s Kitten got the crowed worked into an appropriately energetic frenzy, Chloe Chaidez’s antics proving the perfect foil to Charli’s young English attitude. Surely those two are friends behind the scenes.
Charli played through all her hits, even doing her own rendition of “I Love It” – there was a tangible sense of bitterness during that performance, perhaps she wishes she had kept that one for herself. The highlight of the show was her cover of The Strangelove’s classic “I Want Candy”. Not only was it the best the band played all night, her choice of song to cover perhaps speaks to the type of song she is trying to write.
Charli’s made the decision to play with a live band. It was an all-girl affair, with a guitarist, drum kit, and a keys/bass player. But the addition of live instrumentation didn’t always work to her advantage. One of the outstanding qualities in Charli’s music is in great electronic arrangements. The strength in tracks like “You”, produced by Gold Panda (QRO live review), is in the sampling and electronic hooks. When that same song was played with live instrumentation, some of the shine wore off. The beat became less danceable; the clever vocal sampling couldn’t make it out of the muddle of live instruments. Live instrumentation can be amazing, even when the original song is based in electronic music, but a little more thought must be put into how it can be pulled off.
That didn’t stop the crowd, or Charli, from enjoying themselves. As the audience fed off Charli’s energy, it became apparent that if this girl can write a few more hits like “I Love It”, we might have a superstar on our hands.