Charli XCX has failed to give the world a reason why we should care about her "rebel" (LOLOLOLOLOLOL) antics. Aside from a cute pout and a bad attitude, we don't know much about who she is, what she stands for, and/or how she stands out amongst all the other boobie baring, booty shaking singers with a team of stylists.
Fact is, I'm sorry Charli, her music isn't strong enough to stand on its own merit. There's no longevity and, honestly, it's just not very interesting. If you look at pop music's current heavy hitters, it's easy to define who the major players are. Taylor Swift is the conservative good girl, Iggy Azalea is the bad bitch, Miley Cyrus is music's sexual firecracker, and acts like Meghan Trainor and Katy Perry find their identity in empowerment and self-acceptance with sprinkles of all three aforementioned qualities on top. Even if music from all these pop stars was crap, their individuality is clear.
Taking a closer look at Charli's videos you can see clearly her struggle to find footing in pop music's precarious landscape. Unfortunately, as a collection, it reads as the familiar story of an attempt to emulate her more successful peers, and falling flat.
Granted, the video for her break out hit "Boom Clap" had footage from the movie A Fault In Our Stars,which it sound tracked, but Charli's style and attitude on camera gave her a fresh and raw edge. She's the girl in the motorcycle jacket. The best friend you want to be, because in one fell swoop she'll take you out of your comfort zone and out for a wild time. Compared to her previous videos for, "You (HA HA HA)" and "What I Like," "Boom Clap" looks like a growing identity-step in the right direction. That rebel is who I'd like to think Charli set out to be, but her follow up videos bitch slap that idea right in the mouth. What comes next is stream of pre-packaged clips we've seen from everyone else.
"Break The Rules"...ummm what the hell is this? The video begins with a Britney Spears "Baby One More Time" scene of girls in sexy school uniforms, and quickly morphs into a messy three minutes of butt flaps, trashy lingerie, and a satin dress saturated in what looks like a bucket of Pepto-Bismol. What rules is she breaking? Charli couldn't you be the bad girl smoking pot under the bleachers instead? If you can't hit original, at least reach for cool.
Falling deeper into the rabbit hole of perceived sexual prowess, Charli's next video, "Breaking Up," starts out on the right track. Girl is a pop-rebel. Unfortunately, it goes from edgy girl jilted by a boyfriend, to sex hungry, Lolita-looking, punk (punk ass, not punk rock) teens rocking out at a bowling alley in tiny dresses. Imagery of lick-able props and heavy sexual undertones flash before our eyes, making it all seem very... desperate. So. not. punk. rock. She shoulda/coulda gone the route of crazy eyed ex-girlfriend, out to destroy the guy who broke her heart; maybe people would have drawn the comparison to Charli when Taylor Swift released her video for "Blank Space," making her the video concept trailblazer, and the rebel badass she could have been.
Finally, in yet another stab at being sexy-cool, Charli graced us with her video for "Doing It." The video features fellow identity-less friend Rita Ora. One word for this video: mess. It's a cheap rip-off of Lady Gaga's "Telephone" featuring Beyonce. You effin' wish girls, you effin' wish. Two girls, out in the desert, wearing tacky clothes, surrounded by tacky things, and attempting to look sexy with a lot of hip gyration, bedroom eyes, skimpy outfits and failed humor (um, hello cops in nipple tassels and hot pants, riding an electric bull). At least "Telephone" was the first pop video to take it's aesthetic from a Tarantino film: The Pussy Wagon was a direct reference to Kill Bill. Charli and Rita just look like the poor man's pop copies of better they even ripped off the Tarantino reference, though much much weaker, and said they were inspired by Natural Born Killers. Really guys? Really? You were inspired by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis on a murder spree across the desert and that's what you came up with? Sigh...
What Charli is doing in her videos isn't wrong, it's just wrong for her career. 2014 was riddled with over done, over sexualized, unsubstantial videos: Nicki Minaj to Jennifer Lopez, but shit, at least "Anaconda" was original. Charli can continue to rock this look of over sexualization to keep up with her pop counterparts, but unless she starts incorporating some scent of originality into her work she doesn't stand a chance of staying relevant. Her peers have a brand identity, and, whether you like it or not, that goes the distance. We know she's capable of it, hell, Charli XCX was sporting black lipstick before Lorde had a Soundcloud account. Come on girl, stop copying and keep creating, we miss your authenticity.
Check out the truly badass Charli XCX perform live at The Hype Hotel at SXSW before the limelight bleached out the rock n roll...