The Brilliance of Charli XCX’s Brat Rollout

7 minute read

Charli XCX sixth studio album Brat, released earlier this month, has become a cultural phenomenon. The album debuted at No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart and at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 album chart—making it Charli’s highest charting album in the US and her second top 10 album in the UK. It was also one of Charli’s best-reviewed albums by critics. She received a 95/100 on Metacritic, a site that aggregates reviews from different publications and gives projects an average score out of 100.

Some of its popularity is, of course, due to Charli XCX’s it-girl status in pop. But the appeal also lies in how the pop star has defined the idea of being a “brat.” Charli has called the album her “most aggressive and confrontational record,” which also displays a lot of vulnerability on songs like “So I,” where she speaks on her friendship with the producer SOPHIE, who passed away in 2021, and “Sympathy is a knife,” a confessional song about dealing with public pressure. To Charli, being a brat is about being a complex character: you can admit your flaws and recognize that makes you human, but you can also do whatever you want in the way you want to.

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And the album’s cover, a square of acid-green with the title in a blown-out, low-resolution Arial font is the perfect meme prompt and has inspired many to spread messages of their own.

Charli has also promoted her album online by speaking directly to fans, opting for straightforward interviews on TikTok and unexpected appearances. In February, she played a Boiler Room warehouse DJ set in Bushwick, Brooklyn, sharing her music and snippets of new tracks from the album. Since February, she has released several singles from Brat, along with remix collaborations with people like Addison Rae, Robyn, Yung Lean, and most recently, Lorde.

Here's a look at Charli XCX's brilliant Brat rollout.

The “girl, so confusing” remix with Lorde

Charli XCX’s complicated relationship with pop star peer Lorde goes back years. A decade ago, fresh off the success of her song “Boom Clap,” Charli was interviewed by a woman who said she “loves” her music. In the video, Charli is half-listening, while sucking on a lollipop and holding an avocado. But she perks up when the interviewer asks where she got the inspiration for the song “Royals," a hit by Lorde. Charli goes along with the mixup, and answers the question. Little did she know the moment would be a precursor to something bigger, 10 years later.


Interviewer confuses Charli Xcx with Lorde, October 2014 #charlixcx #lorde #popculture #2010s

♬ som original - tana

On the Brat track “girl, so confusing” Charli refers to a forced friendship with someone in the industry she’s been compared to and mistaken for. “People say we're alike. They say we've got the same hair. We talk about making music, but I don't know if it's honest,” she sings in the pre-chorus. While Lorde and Charli ascended in popularity around the same time, they never seemed to be close. Fans speculated that Charli was talking about Lorde, pointing to the lyrics of the song’s second verse: “You're all about writing poems, but I'm about throwing parties. Think you should come to my party and put your hands up.” Some thought this was a nod to lyrics from Lorde’s song “Team,” where she sings about being over “getting told to put her hands up in the air.”

Lorde seemed to confirm the rumors when she hopped on a remix of the song with Charli and addressed their rift in a brutally sincere verse: “Well, honestly, I was speechless when I woke up to your voice note,” Lorde sings. “I've been at war in my body. I tried to starve myself thinner and then I gained all the weight back. I was trapped in the hatred, and your life seemed so awesome.” She ends her verse by saying, “Forgot that inside the icon, there's still a young girl from Essex.”

The two harmonized on a post-chorus verse, singing, “And when we put this to bed, the internet will go crazy.” They were right. 

Charli shared a screenshot of her text messages with Lorde (whose real name is Ella), who shared the lyrics to her verse over text. Charli’s response: “F-cking hell.”

The internet commended the two women for openly discussing their beef and squashing it so publicly.

Brat’s low-key takeover

Charli doesn’t have any features on the official album, but the remixes that she released in tandem with the singles have been some of her most well-received. The “Von Dutch” remix with Addison Rae proved that the two of them are a perfect match and can make a killer record together. When the song first came out, she shared a video of Addison in the studio recording the adlib scream she does on the song, which has accumulated over 31.8 million views.

Fans loved it so much that when Charli brought out Addison at her show in Los Angeles, the crowd screamed along with her.


IT’S CHARLI & ADDISON FCKING RAE!!!!!!!!! @Addison Rae

♬ The von dutch remix w addison rae and a. g. cook - Charli XCX

Not only are the collaborations a testament to Charli’s impeccable taste, the music video for “360” featured a long list of it girls on a song about it girls. Chloë Sevigny, Julia Fox, Emma Chamberlain, Quen Blackwell, Rachel Sennott, Alex Consani, and more were all featured in the music video.

Throughout the album’s promotion, Charli has made appearances in New York, Los Angeles, and London. Following her Boiler Room set, she uploaded a cryptic post to X on May 2 with an address in Bushwick, Brooklyn that featured a time.

Her fans gathered at the spot and she began to play some music and dance on top of a car in a swarm of hundreds of fans in front of a lime green wall with the word “brat” on it—this later become known as “the brat wall.”

There is a live stream for “the brat wall” and after the album was released, it was changed to a white background and announced the deluxe version of the album, Brat and It's the Same, But There's Three More Songs, So It's Not, only three days after the initial release. 

The live stream is not the only way she’s used social media to her advantage. More recently, she’s done interviews with well-known TikTok interviewers who play low-stakes games or ask her for her opinions.


Brat on brat action @Charli XCX with her Best of #London Ep.146

♬ original sound - TOPJAW

The song that got @Charli XCX into music 🎧

♬ original sound - Track Star

⭐️Episode 95: @charli_xcx says music is not important ⭐️ 🎤 @KAREEM RAHMA 🎥 @Anthony DiMieri @Willem Holzer #nyc #newyorkcity #podcast #subway #hottakes #interview #conversations #nycsubway #subwaytakes #charlixcx #vroomvroom #music

♬ original sound - Subway Takes

Charli’s success, over a decade in the making, is a testament to not needing to be the biggest pop star in the world or selling millions of records to be deemed successful. A core fan base, solid music, and an off-kilter but accessible aesthetic can carry a pop star to heights that are typically only reserved for titans of the industry.

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Write to Moises Mendez II at