Girls Just Want to Have Fun: The New (Bad) Girls of Pop

Girls Just Want to Have Fun: The New (Bad) Girls of Pop

“You’re all about writing poetry, I’m all about throwing parties,” sings Charli XCX in “Girl, so confusing”, one of the tracks from her new album “Brat”. Who was she referring to when she wrote the lyrics? It doesn’t matter: here the girl “engaged in writing poetry” is a archetype, a model, that of the sweetened and often boring pop star of recent timeswhich the 31-year-old singer-songwriter from Essex wants to dress up for the holidays. Along with colleagues like Sabrina Carpenter And Chappell Roanthe voice of “Boom clap” is injecting a boldness into the pop scene that had been missing for many years. I am beautiful, rebellious and nonconformist, seductive, theatrical and exaggerated. While other pop girls try to look perfect and flawless, they simply embody a desire to have fun.

Take Sabrina Carpenterthe 25-year-old blond angel from Quakertown, a town in Pennsylvania: blonde, super sexy and with a pin-up look which recalls the Katy Perry of her early days, the one who at the end of the 2000s found herself at the top of the charts with the sugary pop of “I kissed a girl” and “Hot n’ cold”, for three weeks with her “Please please please” and “Expressed” occupies both the first two positions in the chart of the most listened to songs worldwide on Spotify. In the last seven days alone, the first one has accumulated 70.2 million listeners and the second 67.9 million. They are two pop songs with sticky choruses that stick to your ears for days, but behind the success of Sabrina Carpenter, who a year ago opened the concerts of Taylor Swift’s “Eras tour” and now surpasses her in the charts, there is something else:

a captivating aesthetic, which comes out in the official music videos of the songs. Take the one from “Espresso”, which is hyper glossy, a triumph of butt and tits which begins with Sabrina stealing a boat and ends with the pop star, lying on the hood of the car and wearing a soaked bodysuit, getting arrested by a policeman. The video for “Please please please” is the ideal sequel to the story: when it’s time to leave prison Sabrina falls in love with another inmate. One look is enough: it’s love at first sight. The inmate is not just any inmate, but Barry Keoghanher boyfriend, an actor seen in “Saltburn” and “The Spirits of the Island”. Together in recent months they have been seen everywhere, from the fashion shows of the major fashion brands to the Met Gala. In the video Sabrina waits for her partner to get out of prison, to then compose together with him a Bonnie and Clyde 2.0 couple. It ends badly, however: Sabrina wants to be the “boss”so one day she handcuffs him and takes the key away. The wait for the new album “Short n’ sweet”, which will be released on August 23, is sky-high. Last week, meanwhile, Sabrina Carpenter was awarded by the Official Chart, which draws up the official British charts, as the youngest female artist ever to manage to conquer the first and second position in the chart of the best-selling singles in the same week.

A success, that of Sabrina Carpenter, which is the sign that the public wants stories and music of this kind, contrary to what has happened in pop in recent years, with that bedroom pop of the indie school or alternative singer-songwriter that perhaps no longer embodies the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. A concept that was explicitly brought up by the Guardian when reporting on the Charli XCX phenomenon: “Taylor Swift May Have Conquered the Charts, But Charli Has Captured the Zeitgeist”.

For years she tried to sound like the others, trying to reach that popstar status that she began chasing ten years ago with “Boom clap”. Then Charlotte Emma Aitchison, this is the real name of the British singer-songwriter, understood that she had to simply be herself. And she rediscovered her coolness. “Brat”, .the best-reviewed album by international critics of 2024 so far, ahead of Beyoncé’s “Cowboy Carter” and Billie Eilish’s “Hit Me Hard and Soft”as revealed by Metacritic data (which aggregates the scores of international reviews), is a tribute to the underground electronic music she grew up with: it is a cheeky, unfiltered, noisy and ironically overflowing album. While Taylor Swift tours stadiums and jealously guards her image, Charli XCX winks at the unruly pop stars of the 2000s, from Britney’s “Blackout” on down. And from being an anti-model, she is becoming a point of reference: Vox, in recounting the triumph of “Brat”, underlined how colleagues like Camila Cabello and Katy Perry are moving towards her sound and spoke of a “XCXification of culture”. Charli XCX’s pop is over the top, with grandiose, theatrical melodies.

And he also decided to focus on theatricality Chappell Roana former good girl who grew up in the Bible Belt province, the most conservative and traditionalist America, before going wild in Los Angeles, where she moved when Atlantic Records got their eye on her at the time of her first songs being released online. It’s there that Kayleigh Rose Amstutz created the character of Chappell Roan: “Roan is the drag queen version of myself, with a little added bad taste. Now he’s not afraid to say really dirty things”, he said. In “Pink Pony Club”, the single that in 2020 anticipated her long-distance debut last September with “The rise and fall of a Midwest princess”, tells the story of a girl who leaves her provincial town to become a stripper in Hollywood.

In “.Naked in Manhattan” instead talks about lesbian kisses with her best friend: “We might end up in hell, but we’ll probably be okay,” she sings. Her music can seem disconcerting and unnerving at first, but then it turns out to be exciting: “I would love to represent queer girls in high school, who just want to be young ladies, become wives, who then break free and turn into dragons.”. In the video for the same “Naked in Manhattan” the singer-songwriter hops through the streets of Manhattan in a red dress, reminiscent of Cyndi Lauper. “Girls just want to have fun”, she sang in 1983. Forty years have passed and the title of that hit is the perfect slogan to tell the new (bad) girls of pop.