Hyperpop excellence

Max Beitzel, asst. features editor

On her 2020 album, how i’m feeling now, Charli XCX pushed the boundaries of the pop genre through the incorporation of hyperpop and experimental electronic sounds unlike any other mainstream pop artist. Charli XCX has succeeded in the pop genre since 2012 with familiar top-charting pop songs such as “Boom Clap” and features with Icona Pop on the track “I Love It”. This album is a far cry from the radio-friendly pop tracks in her early career, and her ability to shift into an incredible hyperpop record emphasizes her versatility as an artist. To dismiss how i’m feeling now due to its ties to pop music would be a disservice to the creative and excellent tracks.

The introduction track “pink diamond” begins with powerful distorted notes that quickly introduce the audience to hyperpop production. The lyrics emphasize the desire to escape the restrictions from the Covid-19 lockdown, and the repetitive nature of the track highlights the repetitive nature of the time period in which this album was recorded. Although some listeners may dislike the repetitive lyrics, I think they fit perfectly with the loud and chaotic beat that surrounds the track. This short track captures listeners’ attention, and is a very thrilling and catchy introduction of what is to come. 

The following track, “forever”, builds up to be another hyperpop-infused song, but later shifts to  more melodic and less abrasive. Another aspect of this album that is perfectly showcased in this track is the use of autotune as a stylistic device instead of a correction. Charli XCX’s voice is angelic on this track and the use of autotune brings a charm that is hard to replicate. Although many traditional listeners might disregard the use of autotune because of its stigma, I think the use is perfectly imperfect. 

“claws” is a unique song on the album, as it perfectly displays how Charli XCX deviates from the expectations of the pop genre and produce an experimental hit. The chaotic and futuristic production on the track is what really solidifies “claws” as one of my favorites. On first listen, this experimental pop track might not click, but when it does it is almost impossible to get out of your head.

The following three tracks “7 years”, “detonate”, and “enemy” continue with the same style of the album but include similar catchy hooks, choruses, and production. “i finally understand” is my favorite song on the album due to the danceability of the song. It is impossible to listen to this track without receiving any form of joy. The lyrics, although following in the same structure of many other pop artists, are filled with life and a sense of relief turned joy. Charli XCX’s ability to create such a catchy hook that brings listeners back time and time again is proof of her exceptional skill as a singer.

“c2.0” is the second part to a song titled “Click” from her 2019 album, Charli. “c2.0” samples a small portion from “Click”, which takes over the first half of the track. The song then uses the sample from “Click’ as a backing track where Charli XCX sings over the audio from her own song. The second half  is a uniquely ambitious idea from a pop artist, and I think it is done perfectly due to the way the audio is layered over one another. On the first listen, this transition blew me away. “c2.0” again pushes the boundaries of pop music, which I think will set an example for pop artists of the future. As the final songs of the album, “party 4 u”, “ anthems”, and “visions” maintain and captivate the listener and wrap up a perfect pop album in my opinion.

Charli XCX combines the use of  stylistic autotune, and  funky pop experimentation to create a highly ambitious but perfectly executed pop album. I would highly recommend how i’m feeling now, but I would warn listeners that the experimentation throughout the album is not for all.