Charli XCX – SuperLove
Given the success of Fancy and Boom Clap, it’s hard to believe that not so long ago, Charli XCX’s pop career was in danger of fizzling out before it had ever really begun. In April 2013, she released her major label debut, True Romance, a Tumblr-friendly combination of cloud rap tropes, 80s production and 90s girl group attitude that sampled Gold Panda and Todd Rundgren. Too arty for the pop crowd and too commercial for the blogosphere, it stalled in the album charts at no.85.
During the writing of True Romance, Charli XCX had penned another song that wasn’t intended to be released under her own name. That track was I Love It, a worldwide smash for Icona Pop that reached the top of the UK singles chart less than three months after True Romance’s release.
Charli XCX had made a name for herself but all material released under her own name had thus far flopped. With no new album on the horizon, she wrote and released SuperLove before 2013 was out, claiming it would be included on her then-unwritten second LP.
Despite SuperLove neither being a hit nor featuring on the album in question, Sucker, it’s a superlative giddy sugar rush of a record. There’s a springy bassline, whizzing synths and liberal use of handclaps (never a bad thing). When the chorus arrives, the word count increases, and it mirrors the dizzying rush of new-found lust that the lyrics chronicle.
Cynics could point towards SuperLove being somewhat throwaway and it’s true, it is. Whilst a track being throwaway is by no means a bad thing, in SuperLove’s case, it actually seems to work to its advantage. The whole aesthetic is breezy and instantaneous and though the lyrics can seem almost trivial (“I think your hair looks much better pushed over to one side / How do you feel about me?”), it all hangs together to provide the immediate rush that only the best pop music can give.
SuperLove also marks an interesting stepping stone in the musical evolution of Charli XCX. It would never have been included on True Romance which, although brilliant, was often preoccupied with ticking off the cultural touchstones du jour. However, after the success of I Love It, a lightbulb must have gone off above Charli XCX’s head as she realised that she had it within her to be a mainstream pop star like her beloved Spice Girls. SuperLove is her first attempt at achieving that and goes down as one of the great lost singles of recent years. It might have taken a while for her to get to the top but now she’s there, Charli XCX is surely one of the most interesting pop stars we have right now.
Entered chart: 21/12/2013
Chart peak: 62
Weeks on chart: 1
Who could sing this today and have a hit? Charli XCX herself, probably. Funny how things work out sometimes.