Album Title
Charli XCX
Artist Icon CRASH (2022)
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Genre Icon Synthpop


Mood Icon Cheerful


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Album Description
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Crash (stylised in all caps) is the fifth studio album by English singer-songwriter Charli XCX, released on 18 March 2022. It is her last album to be released under her current record contract with Atlantic Records. Charli announced the album title, release date, and artwork on 4 November 2021. Her website was also updated with information about the album's 2022 tour. The album was preceded by the four singles "Good Ones", "New Shapes" featuring Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek, "Beg for You" featuring Rina Sawayama, "Baby" and two promotional singles, "Every Rule" and "Used to Know Me". The sound consists of 1980s, 1990s and 2000s-inspired synth-pop, dance-pop and power pop.

Background and recording
In September 2019, Charli XCX released her third studio album Charli to critical acclaim. Another version of the album was originally slated for a May 2017 release, although Charli later on decided to scrap that project following an accident that later resulted on most of its demo tracks getting leaked on the Internet. In an interview with the music magazine The Fader, she explained: "I'm not supposed to say this, I'm supposed to be like, in it, 'this album (Charli), stream it, buy it', but I'm like, already thinking about the next one, it's done, I'm onto the next level". She stated on 14 October of the same year that she was already working on it. On 25 November 2019, she stated that her current plans for the future year included the creation of two new albums (the second being the sixth, which, if not released in 2020, would have been released in 2021).

During the months of January and February 2020, Charli published Instagram stories of herself in the studio with a variety of producers, including Patrik Berger and Justin Raisen, both of whom had previously collaborated on Charli's debut album True Romance. Her executive producer, A. G. Cook, as well as Deaton Chris Anthony also had recording sessions with Charli.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, recording sessions for the album were canceled in March. On 6 April 2020, Charli XCX announced through a public Zoom call with fans that she would be working on a new album in self-isolation, with the tentative title How I'm Feeling Now. Charli decided to postpone the "Janet album''s sessions and began working on her fourth studio album on the spur of the moment. Work on this album began in Charli's home on 3 April and continued until the album's release date of 15 May. Charli first mentioned the "Janet album" theme on 6 April, when she posted a screenshot of a conversation with A. G. Cook. "And I wanted to do Janet album in September into quicker album in December", she said, implying that she originally planned to release the "Janet album" in September and a "quicker", more impromptu album in December of the same year. Charli hinted on 12 June that she was back at work on the "Janet album" now that How I'm Feeling Now was out.

On 1 November 2021, she tweeted that she would be disclosing mysteries about the album that week, and five hours later, she revealed the collaborators she would be working with on the album: Lotus IV, Christine and the Queens, Caroline Polachek, Oscar Holter, Digital Farm Animals, Rina Sawayama, Ian Kirkpatrick, Jason Evigan, Justin Raisen, SadPony, Ariel Rechtshaid, Ilya, Oneohtrix Point Never, Mike Wise, and Jon Shave. Oscar Holter had already been confirmed as a producer for the album with the single "Good Ones", and a collaboration with Rina Sawayama had been teased since 2019, though according to both artists, there were different attempts at a collaboration; the song that ended up being released was titled "Beg for You", and was produced by Digital Farm Animals. A collaboration with Caroline and Christine, with production from Deaton Chris Anthony, was also teased a few days before the announcement, which turned out to be the track "New Shapes", which acts as the album's second single and was released on 4 November 2021.

Release and promotion
On 15 August 2021, following the announcement of the album's first song, she tweeted a picture of a grave with her own name engraved on it and the death date "March 18 2022", which was thought to be the album's release day. The next day, she tweeted a behind-the-scenes video of a photoshoot of that grave, utilizing a fragment of "Good Ones". This grave would be featured in "Good Ones"' music video after it was released. It was widely hinted that the album would be published on 18 March 2022, because after the release of "Good Ones", she stated that the album might be released around that date.

The album was formally announced on 4 November, an hour before the release of the second song, on all of Charli's social media, along with the announcement of a 37-date tour, titled "Crash: The Live Tour", across North America and Europe and a link to pre-save the album. It was also revealed that the album will have 12 tracks and last for 33 minutes. Later that day, Charli went live on TikTok and shared new snippets of new tracks, including the then-unknown tracks "Baby", "Constant Repeat", "Beg For You", and three other snippets.

On 19 December 2021, Charli posted an Instagram post with the caption "2022 sneak peak...", which included numerous images related to work for the album cycle, including images of photo op and recording behind the scenes, a talk with Rina about their collaboration, and a video of Charli practicing with background dancers for the track "Baby".

Throughout late 2021 and early January 2022, Charli continued to share the samples she teased on TikTok, most notably the tracks "Beg for You" and "Baby". On 4 January, Charli uploaded a snippet of what appeared to be a music video for the song "Baby". On 20 January, it was reported via iTunes that the album's fifth track will be 2 minutes and 48 seconds long, which was later confirmed to be "Beg for You". On the same day, Charli revealed the title and a studio snippet of her collaboration with Rina Sawayama, "Beg for You". On 21 February 2022, the singer announced that a deluxe edition will be released the same week as the standard album.

"Good Ones" was released as the album's lead single on 2 September 2021. It is a dance track mixed with synth-pop and electropop. The song received acclaim for critics with most of them highlighting its synth-pop production. Its music video, directed by Hannah Lux Davis, and filmed in Mexico. was released the same day as the song. "New Shapes" was released on 4 November 2021 as the album's second single, featuring Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek. The latter track was also met with positive reviews from critics for her move away from hyperpop and towards synth-pop. The music video was released a few days after. Charli XCX was set to appear on the ninth episode of Saturday Night Live's 47th season alongside Christine and the Queens and Polachek to promote the singles, but the performances were cancelled due to the rise of the coronavirus Omicron variant in New York City. The performance was later rescheduled to 5 March 2022. "Beg for You", a collaboration with Rina Sawayama, was released on 27 January 2022 as the album's third single. The song is a UK garage track with elements of 90's house music. It samples September's 2006 single "Cry for You", as well as the song "Don't Cry" by Belgian dance group Milk Inc. It received acclaim from music critics, highlighting its catchiness. "Baby" was released on 1 March 2022 as the album's fourth single. The track is an 80's-inspired post-disco track with new jack swing elements. It has received positive reviews for its catchiness and sultry production. On 14 March 2022, "Every Rule" was released as a promotional single, along with "Used to Know Me" on 17 March 2022.

When teasing and promoting the record since May 2021, Charli took on an evil, demonic or soulless persona, so as to play into a deal-with-the-devil idea. Visuals for the album include "femme fatale powers" and a multitude of "dark spells and curses" as well as signature nods to both cars and car crashes. Its title and overall aesthetic was inspired by David Cronenberg's 1996 movie Crash.

On 8 April 2020, Charli told a fan through Zoom that the album was influenced by Janet Jackson's music, an artist who has frequently been cited by PC Music label producers such as A.G. as well as EasyFun as a source of inspiration. Then, on April 21st, she told Stereogum that this was her most polished album yet, both musically and artistically, and that she was currently listening to a lot of Janet Jackson's songs. She indicated that the album will be a musical departure for her. On May 5th, she indicated that it will be her most "pop" album yet, and that she wanted the song videos to be extremely theatrical, even suggesting that she play different characters in them. On October 29th, 2020, she said that while there was still a lot of Janet Jackson influence on the album at the time, it is no longer exclusively influenced by her, and there are now other inspirations.

On 23 May 2021, she indicated that the album was "for the True Romance angels" and that she wanted to have a song that is "Stay Away 2.0". Then, on 8 July, Charli posted that she was extremely into songs that she did not compose. During this month, Charli began to publish a lot of tweets and Instagram photographs indicating that the album would be her "evil era". One of them reads, "Tip for young artists: sell your soul for money and fame."

Music and lyrics
Crash eschews Charli XCX's previous hyperpop and futurepop work, in favor of "punchy power pop", 80's synth-pop, and dance-pop, with elements of pop-funk, dream pop, eurodance, disco, nu-disco and "post-internet glitch". Album opener "Crash" is a new jack swing song with hard funk drums. "Good Ones" explores electropop and synthwave, and "New Shapes" continues the album's 80's synth-pop sound. She samples europop songs "Show Me Love" and "Cry for You" on "Used to Know Me" and "Beg for You", respectively, in an effort to strike a balance between nostalgia and futurism. "Beg for You" additionally is a UK garage song that evokes 2000s bubblegum and 90s house. "Baby" is a post-disco, dance-pop, and pop-funk song with new jack swing elements reminiscent of Janet Jackson's Control. "Lightning" has flamenco flourishes, while "Yuck" fuses a 70s funk and boogie baseline with disco and "hyper-modern synths".

She has listed Madonna, Janet Jackson, Cameo, Sister Sledge, Serge Gainsbourg, Steve Vai, Black Eyed Peas, Charlie Puth, Cyndi Lauper, Rick James, Taylor Dayne, Boy Meets Girl, and Belinda Carlisle as musical inspirations for the album. Featured artists on the album include Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek on "New Shapes", as well as Rina Sawayama on "Beg for You"; the songs were released as the second and third singles from the album, respectively. Producers on the album include Oscar Holter, and Lotus IV and Deaton Chris Anthony, on the singles "Good Ones" and "New Shapes", respectively. A. G. Cook, George Daniel, Digital Farm Animals, Ian Kirkpatrick, Jason Evigan, Justin Raisen, Ariel Rechtshaid, Ilya Salmanzadeh, Oneohtrix Point Never, Jon Shave, and Mike Wise have also been revealed to have produced other tracks on the album.

Writing for Clash, Joe Rivers said that "Crash is certainly a mixed bag, but it does demonstrate that, whatever her motivations and mindset, Charli XCX is an artist we should treasure. Even when she's not at her best, she displays enough nous and melody to stand head and shoulders above practically all her rivals". Elly Watson from DIY gave the album rating 4.5 out of 5 stars and wrote that "may be closing a chapter for Charli but it is in no way a swan song." and also added that "Instead, she once again explores new ventures, crafting a pop album that celebrates the old classics as well as the new, and cements her status as a true pop trailblazer".
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