Unpacking the Genius of Charli XCX’s New Album, BRAT

Kiss the clean girl aesthetic goodbye and say hello to BRAT Summer! If you live on the same sphere of the internet as I do, you’ll know that everyone has been raving about Charli XCX’s newest album, BRAT. It’s become so much more than an album; it’s a lifestyle. The rebirth of this singer-songwriter needs to be studied, for her genre-bending career has been punctuated with reincarnations and exploration into places few artists have dared to venture. 

We all know Charli XCX from her feature on the iconic Icona Pop single I Love It – that was all the way in 2012; feel old yet? More than a decade later, she’s established herself as a force to be reckoned with. Her previous album Crash – which genre-paved the way for BRAT – stole the hearts and ears of fans across the globe. But nothing comes close to the impact and legacy that is her newest album! As soon as this dropped, it went viral – and rightfully so. BRAT is chock full of great songs that have shaken the pop girlies to their core. 

Talking about BRAT 

Before we do a deep dive into some of the songs on the album, let’s talk about BRAT as a whole. The album’s primary genre is club pop – these are songs you’ll definitely hear playing at a rave, which makes sense considering Charli’s career started with her performing at raves when she was still underage. Since it dropped, BRAT has become a cultural and social phenomenon. I honestly can’t remember the last time so many people came together to appreciate an album release the same way BRAT has rallied everyone together – and I’m living for it! 

My favourite part about this entire album is the lyrics, which speak on deeper issues hidden behind the club beat. In this day and age, music has lost some of its storytelling—there aren’t many artists dedicated to telling a story anymore, and I love that Charli XCX has brought it back. When everyone was speculating about BRAT housing diss tracks, she was quick to clear the air and reiterate the real meaning behind the album: the issues female artists face in the industry.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, we will uncover the lore and dissect the music behind BRAT. This includes her remixes and the three special songs that live on her album – aptly titled: Brat and it’s the same but there’s three more songs so it’s not. We’ll only be putting seven songs under the microscope. These seven songs are, in my opinion, the best songs or versions that are so much more than what meets the eyes (or in this case, ears). So let’s ride and do a deep dive into Charli XCX’s newest album: BRAT!


BRAT opens with 360, one of the most renowned songs on the whole album. The internet was in uproar when the music video dropped because of the sheer number of it girls featured. Just watch the music video, and you’ll understand what I mean.

360 has this simple beat that is repeated throughout the entirety of the song, which is the basis of what makes it super catchy and gets you to press replay before it’s even over. In all honesty, this song threw me for a loop. I’ve never been one to enjoy rave music, but I was hooked on the beat. While I still consider this a rather pop-ish song, 360 has way more lyrics than some of the other tracks. 

Speaking of lyrics, Charli XCX makes references to her friends multiple times in the song. Let me explain if you’re not as knowledgeable in the artist’s lore. Starting with “Call me Gabbriette, you’re so inspired”. The Gabbriette in question here is Gabbriette Bechtel – fiance to Matty Healy of The 1975 fame. Meanwhile, Charli’s own fiance, George Daniel, is the drummer for The 1975.

The next one is pretty obvious. In the chorus, Charli sings, “I’m everywhere I’m so Julia”, a reference to Julia Fox – an actress and model mostly known on the internet as an icon. In an interview with Zach Sang, Julia Fox talks about the honour of having a song written about her where she says, “She (Charli) really actually supports women. And she supports unconventional women, women that society maybe looks at and is confused by. She’s not confused. She sees the truth”, and it encompasses the reason why Charli is everyone’s favourite right now. 

Since Charli herself has come out to explain the album’s theme, I love that she uplifts fellow female artists in her track and showers them with support—something we don’t see much of these days.

This song is an absolute banger. If you’re like me and aren’t too sure whether you’ll enjoy a club pop album, 360 is a song that will ease you into the genre and the rest of the album. It balances club and pop to a T and is incredibly singable. 

Club Classics 

The title of the song says it all. Club Classics follows 360 on the album, and it’s the epitome of rave music. The beat starts strong and then slows down in the pre-chorus, creating a dynamic and immersive listening experience. Although the song begins to slow down right before the chorus, it keeps us amped up and ready for the exact moment the beat drops. 

Club Classics is a great showcase of the talents of producers A.G. Cook and George Daniel. The timing of every beat and the harmony between the slower and faster parts of the song meld together perfectly. Most of the song follows a quick beat, but the slower portions are never jarring and ease in just right. I find it impossible to listen to this song and not start bobbing my head to the beat – a testament to the producers’ genius.

Because this song is more beat-intensive, there aren’t as many lyrics in it as 360, but it’s worth noting that the artists she mentions are either producers who worked on the album or her older songs. Besides mentioning A.G. Cook and George Daniels, she also brings up Sophie and Hudmo—both of whom are producers.

While Hudmo is not credited as one of the producers of Club Classics, he did work on other songs on the album, like Talk Talk. Sophie, on the other hand, produced several of Charli’s older singles, like Vroom Vroom. Unfortunately, Sophie passed on in 2021, but it’s heartwarming to see Charli celebrate her legacy in her newest album. 

Sympathy is a Knife

Sympathy is a Knife is the best example of deep lyrics hidden behind a club beat – easily in the top 5 best songs on the album for me. Sympathy is a Knife is Charli’s confrontation of her insecurities when she’s faced with another female artist. One that might be more successful, prettier or richer than her – she makes Charli feel small and insecure. This song is about Charli airing her insecurities in a powerful and relatable way. 

At first listen, you might miss the song’s meaning, amidst the hyper beats, but when you read the lyrics, it’s like a knife to the heart. The raw honesty in this song floored me – Charli sings about feelings that many of us hesitate to vocalise, and she does it so publicly that you can’t help but admire her courage.

Instead of dissing the other girl in question, Charli engages in a lot of self-reflection and speaks more about how she feels she can’t compare to her. She also talks about how she wishes she had more sympathy and could fake a smile, but instead, her insecurities are gnawing away at her insides. 

Sympathy is a Knife shows how well Charli XCX balances her confidence and insecurities on BRAT. While other tracks celebrate her confidence, some tracks candidly address her self-doubt, where she voices some of our deepest thoughts. 

Sonically, this song has a beat that shakes your ear drums – literally. These heartfelt and awfully candid lyrics are sung above a beat with an incredibly heavy bass, which can sometimes distract you from the lyrics. Nonetheless, it does a great job of hiding these raw emotions behind the beat.

I might say something stupid

I might say something stupid is entirely different from the rest of the other tracks on BRAT – this is a fantastic showcase of Charli’s range. If you listened to BRAT in chronological order, this song is bound to catch you off guard. It has a much slower beat, setting a very intimate scene between Charli and the listener. The stripped-back instrumentation allows Charli’s vocals and lyrics to take centre stage, showcasing her emotional depth and vulnerability.

I might say something stupid feels like a personal confession, with Charli expressing her fears of not fitting in completely in a way that feels almost uncomfortably genuine. This song is a deeply introspective and vulnerable track highlighting Charli’s self-doubt and the pressures of maintaining a public persona. 

The lyrics reveal her internal conflict and desire for authenticity in an industry that values superficial appearances. Despite being in the spotlight, the juxtaposition of her feelings of being an outsider adds a layer of complexity to her identity as an artist. 

The song’s slower beat and intimate lyrics create a poignant contrast to the high-energy tracks on the rest of the album, offering a raw glimpse into Charli’s inner world. It feels like it’s cut from the same cloth as Sympathy is a Knife, but thanks to its stripped-back beat, it’s a hundred times more intimate. 

One thing you’ll notice about this song is Charli’s heavily autotuned vocals. The use of autotune has often been a controversial topic that many artists prefer to avoid altogether. However, Charli has been refreshingly honest about her use of autotune, embracing it as more of a stylistic touch rather than a crutch. Her use of autotune adds a unique texture to her voice that scratches our brains in the right spot. 

In an interview with Tape Notes Podcasts, George, the producer, explains that when something sounds inherently electric, it allows space to dissect the rest of the song. Charli emphasises the importance of embracing human imperfections, which “goes with the ethos of the record”.  

The girl, so confusing version with lorde

If I thought 360 broke the internet, nothing would’ve prepared me for the chaos that ensued with the release of The girl, so confusing version with lorde. But to understand just how earthshattering this collaboration is, you must first understand the lore behind these two pop powerhouses.

It all started in the early 2010s when Lorde blew up with the release of Royals and Charli, with I Love It – both experiencing major stardom at roughly the same time. It’s important to note that both artists wore their hair in similar styles, which fueled speculation that the original song was directed at Lorde. Charli sings, “People say we’re alike, they say we’ve got the same hair” – a line that seemed to be a dead giveaway. 

While the two never beefed publicly, Charli admitted to comparing her career with Lorde’s in 2014 and feeling less than. Although we don’t know the details of their friendship, everyone could guess it was rocky. After weeks of speculation, Charli shocks the world with the release of The girl, so confusing version with Lorde and the internet went wild. This is the equivalent of Drake and Kendrick Lamar squashing their beef and addressing their issues in a joint song – but for the Tumblr girls of 2014. 

Both of them speak openly about their feelings towards each other and address the complications of their relationship. Charli takes the first verse as she sings about how she doubted Lorde’s authenticity in her approach towards their friendship and wondered whether Lorde wanted to see Charli succeed or fail – overall, a frank conversation about the validity of their friendship.

Lorde follows up in the next verse with an equally upfront verse herself. She talks about her own battle with eating disorders, citing that as the reason for her cancelling dinner with Charli at the last minute. She also addresses building walls to protect herself, especially in an industry as public as the music scene. 

This song basically talks about how confusing it is to be a girl and foster genuine friendships when you are constantly pitted against each other. In this song, Charli and Lorde show us the realities of friendships between female artists—it’s hard but not impossible. Through their lyrics, they shed light on the pressures and insecurities that come with public comparisons and media-driven rivalries. 

The girl, so confusing version with lorde, was a decade in the making, but it was worth every second of the wait. The song reflects the growth and maturity of both Lorde and Charli over the past 10 years, with both artists confessing their unwavering support for each other. Ultimately, this track is a reminder that solidarity and mutual respect are crucial even in the competitive world of music. 


It only took me one listen of Apple to get me hooked. The song starts off strong, with a heavy bass that shakes your ears and little bursts of synth. As with every song on this album, Charli’s voice is heavily autotuned, adding yet another layer to the song’s unique flavour.

From the first line, it’s clear that Apple is about Charli’s relationship with her family. In my eyes, this song solidified Charli’s status as a storyteller – there was so much to unpack in each line. In the first verse, Charli sings about recognising similar traits and behaviours in herself that mirror those of her family members. But the frustration of not being understood breeds the desire to escape the entrapment of those familial influences.

The second verse sees Charli acknowledging the diversity and complexity within her family relationships. As the lyrics go, “I wanna grow the apple, keep all the seeds”, this addresses a desire to nurture and preserve those connections. The last verse, which has blown up on TikTok thanks to a new dance trend, discusses the deep-seated issues within her family that have been passed down through generations. 

This song was a pleasant surprise on the album—it’s the most pop-sounding track on BRAT, but its lyrics speak to a bigger theme that not many people in pop are addressing. 

Spring Breakers 

Words can’t express how much I love Spring Breakers. As soon as I heard the first line, I already knew I had to add this song to my playlist. This track is another great example of Charli’s use of autotune and how it adds character to her voice—the way she enunciated “detonator” has me obsessed with it. 

Spring Breakers samples Everytime by Britney Spears, and you can hear it sprinkled into the song right before the chorus hits. Just like Club Classics, there are slower parts of the song, but they ease in smoothly and get us ready for the chorus – kudos to the producers. I’ve never been one to enjoy clubbing, but every time I listen to Spring Breakers, I crave to experience jumping to this song in a crowded club. The bass does an excellent job of making this song an absolute club classic. 

Although she mentions that there are no diss tracks on her album, Spring Breakers is a song that many have come to associate with Taylor Swift. BRAT had dethroned Taylor Swift’s album, The Tortured Poets Department (TTPD), when it debuted at number 1 on the UK charts. Taylor then released several UK-exclusive versions of TTPD, which blocked BRAT from taking the top spot. 

Many have speculated that Taylor’s release was an intentional move to take the spotlight away from Charli, and fans were not happy with that. Since then, many have associated Spring Breakers with Taylor Swift because, in the track, Charli sings, “Every time I make it so outrageous, always gonna lose to someone playing safer.” Regardless, BRAT has since gone on to be critically acclaimed and has been met with an overwhelming amount of support. 

But in true Charli XCX fashion, she has come out to defend Taylor against fans who have taken their criticism of the latter too far. Charli has urged her fans to stop chanting “Taylor is dead” at her shows and said she won’t stand for it. Given that BRAT revolves around the challenges faced by female artists, I loved that Charli has taken a firm stand on the issue—which is so true to the theme of the album. 

A tiny easter egg you might’ve missed in the song is Charli’s reference to another one of her major hits, Boom Clap – her song that was featured in The Fault In Our Stars. I thought it was a nice homage to Charli’s older songs. Even though she’s grown musically, she still makes reference to her older repertoire, which we all know and love her for. 

Ending Comments 

BRAT is a phenomenal album that only deserves praise. Charli XCX really knocked it out of the park, showcasing her impressive range as an artist. She wears her heart on her sleeve in BRAT, addressing issues other artists have deemed too controversial to discuss. 

I appreciate how Charli balances her confidence and insecurities on BRAT and has used her platform to speak about an issue bigger than herself. Her honesty and willingness to tackle these topics make this album a standout. 

BRAT by Charli XCX 

Do yourself a favour and listen to BRAT by Charli XCX as she takes the world by storm, one album at a time. This album not only showcases her musical evolution but also her bravery in addressing personal and societal issues – each track is a testament to her artistry. 

BRAT is a rollercoaster of emotions, beats and stories that will resonate with listeners on many levels. Don’t miss out on what is undoubtedly one of the most compelling albums of the year. Make sure to check out her official Spotify and YouTube to listen to her music, and follow her on Instagram to stay updated with the artist that’s on everyone’s lips!

Visuals courtesy of Atlantic Records.

Jillian Metta Lau

Bookworm by day, concert maven by night, and an avid dreamer longing to trade pages for passports and explore the globe's symphony of cultures.

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