Charli XCX and the pop possibilities of the internet

Most of the people I know that don’t live on the internet are from my hometown. My #bramptongirls can differentiate a string of hyperactive LMFAO songs and knew, before I did, that Ne-Yo did a tune with Pitbull, and they extend musical olive branches to their weirdo rap friend via Beyonce and Rihanna. It’s not that all suburbanites listen to pop radio (they don’t) or that all city people are douches about music (… well). But I think it comes down to a division between sane people with real lives and the rest of us RSSing our days away. Just feed the internet into my veins please. I’m ready.

Because I am out of touch with everything that doesn’t come to me via URL, it’s weird to think about all of the people out there who have no idea what’s a Kreayshawn or Lana Del Ray or Tyler, The Creator. Sometimes the most ridiculous song-memes cross-over and you’ll hear your old, creaky boss humming Rebecca Black’s “Friday” while firing up Internet Explorer. But the good thing is that the frenzy of today’s viral jams du jour gets validated by real world mechanisms like digital sales charts and tours and magazine covers and record deals and conspiracy theories that the acts themselves are label-created (shout out A$AP Rocky!).

Demystifying these digital number ones isn’t too difficult I think. “Gucci Gucci” by Kreayshawn, our Navneet Alang posited, might’ve had something to do with the totally millennial love of dichotomy, a white girl infiltrating traditionally-black rap. Lana Del Rey’s robotic oppressive symmetry makes us pay attention to the wounded purring of “Video Games.” M83’s “Midnight City,” despite its dark streak, is so perfectly calibrated for things like ‘dance parties’ and flash mobs down to its resplendent, kitschy, on-trend saxophone solo. These songs, which stitch together our Wiki-researched preferences, are soooo good so it makes sense that they soundtrack our second lives, but it also doesn’t make them any better or different from how things function IRL—where, in fact, globalized web trends are siphoned into pop hits.

All this is to introduce a new contender: Charli XCX’s “Nuclear Seasons.” Cooing and hiccupping like Tiffany come back, the 19-year-old Brit pouts for our futuristic 1080p gathering spaces online, instead of the fluorescent dinge of yesterday’s malls. Both song and video for “Nuclear Seasons” strike contemporary aesthetic gold: massive pop chords and Lookbook-ish styling made cool through a deliberately lo-fi filter. Along with the teeny pop of Tiffany, there are stacks of musical references here: dubstep-ish bottom-feeding bass, tinges of goth industrial atmospherics, rave-like synth flourishes, and that totally Talk Talk-inspired bit before the chorus kicks in. And glancing at her inspirations on Facebook confirms just how bloggable this music is: AUSTRA.. KATE BUSH.. HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR.. THE KNIFE.. BATHS.. SEBASTIAN.. THE WILD EYES.. LE COUTEAU JAUNE.. GRACE JONES.. JUSTICE.. THE CURE.. COCO ROSIE.. THE ZOMBIES.. ROBYN.. TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS.. NEON SKULLZ.. MAJOR LAZER..