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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at San Francisco chapter.

Getting blasted with a glaring flash of green when you open Twitter / X? Seeing green squares and green profile pictures all over Instagram? It’s not just your imagination! Charli XCX came back with a fire this past week with her sixth studio album, Brat  – or is it BRAT, or brat? Not even Charli herself seems to know. Despite that, it is immediately recognizable, and unmistakably Charli. 

Her last album, Crash, was very much so a concept album that toyed with the idea of what she would sound like if she did choose to sell out – something that has been a game of tug of war her entire career. The British singer, who is oftentimes credited with helping to invent a new type of pop music so unique that Spotify shoved it in its own category and called it “hyperpop,” never quite was one to be mainstream. She made a valiant effort with her sophomore album Sucker, but if that proved anything, it was that mainstream pop was not true to her sound. 

Now, about a decade after releasing her debut album, Charli is embracing her status as a pop icon (particularly in the LGBTQI+ community). Through her ability to bring so much emotion and rawness to an electronic beat, her history of uplifting smaller artists through promoting or collaborating with them as well as through her close relationship with fans, she has carefully curated an impressive body of work that makes her an unmatched figurehead in her realm of music. 

Last summer, a new account for Charli popped up – it was simply called “360_brat”, and it was private. Only a small select few were able to hop in everytime it happened to be unlocked for a span of about 15 minutes or so. At the time, the consensus was that this was a way for Charli to connect with her fans in an even more personal way without a vast public watching. Despite some leaks, it was overall a special little capsule of her private life that she otherwise wouldn’t have shown us. 

Before the name of the album was even released to the public, we got the single “Von Dutch.” An abrasive, feisty, ego-filled track that has Charli lyrically and visually (in the music video, at least) punching us in the face, as she crawls around an airplane cabin, jumps off the wing of an airplane, and then rolls around on a conveyor belt. She owns her worth, and her status as a force to be reckoned with. 

Shortly after, a green background with a hazy “brat” logo popped up – fans questioned if this was a placeholder, or the actual cover. As it turns out, this was here to stay. Many were disappointed by the cover’s “laziness” and lack of in-focus font, even commenting on the intensity of the shade of green. In a world where we expect to see a female popstar on her own album cover, what does this say about Charli as an artist? In reality, the entire campaign was painstakingly thought-out and analyzed over the course of its conception. From the exact shade of green, to promoting her previous albums by changing the covers to match the aesthetic of that of Brat, to Charli’s new look for the era (long natural hair, mostly minimal make-up, and her very specific wardrobe choices), was carefully curated to the very last detail – even going as far as to change the previously capitalized part of her artist name “XCX” to lowercase.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Charl’s TikTok account went live and showed a wall – that was in the process of being painted green. This was around the time that the next singles, “b2b”, and lastly, “360” made their rounds. From then on, the green was inescapable. It was everywhere. The sound thus far had made it seem that this would be a rave/club record for the girls, and in a way, that ended up coming to fruition. She ran her marketing on a very 1990’s era rave-momentum – either you’re lucky and you get the text that you’re invited to the party, or you don’t. 

Special “Angel Club Cards,” a free membership for her fanbase, began. She would announce an address, which would usually be a venue or the location of a “brat wall”, and show up within an hour’s notice to a packed crowd, eagerly waiting to see what was to come. It was in this way that she debuted “360, and celebrated the album before it even got released. 

Anticipating the album’s release, megafans as well as those who ran stan accounts specifically used the brat generator, so graciously provided by Charli, to create their own profile pictures and logos with their own names or otherwise. Memes spread across social media like wildfire. It seemed like the closer to the album release we got, the more green was splattered across the interwebs – and we couldn’t get enough. 

In a time when artists are forced to be in a never-ending cycle of creating new work, promoting it, and then touring for it (especially in the big record labels), what Charli has done is she has marketed the album and herself in a way that is far beyond the norm, but it is just as impactful, if not even moreso. It is in your face, without even showing her face. Whenever I see anything green, my first thought is brat. It is not a green apple I am seeing, but rather the song “Apple” that I am hearing in my head. The songs are just as much dance tracks as they are an introspective look at her career and the industry as a whole.

A record that is just a powerfully a club record as it is an introspective and deeply thought-provoking one, we get Charli at her best – SOPHIE might be gone and we are still crying, but SOPHIE’s influence, just as Charli’s reputation and artistry ooze through every ethereal note and word on this album – and as someone who has been rooting for her success from the start, it is a truly beautiful full-circle moment to witness. All in all, this album is inevitably causing a shift in pop culture and in the music world, and I am determined to experience every moment of it to the fullest.

Vera Maksymiuk

San Francisco '24

English major who is passionate about poetry, literature, pop culture, art, fashion, music, world news and politics :)