Now almost unrecognisable from the 2014 chart smashing breakthrough sounds of ‘Boom Clap’ and ‘Break the Rules’, Charli XCX has continually reinvented what it means to be a popstar in the current industry climate. In recent years XCX has rejected label pressures to produce commercially fruitful music, favouring collaboration-rich mixtapes and non-traditional release methods. Last summer saw XCX release a string of leaked standalone songs including ‘1999’, a sonically slick nostalgic collaboration with Aussie star Troye Sivan.
The pop savant’s latest release, dropped with just three days-notice in true XCX style, is an infectious collaboration with one of this year’s breakout stars, Lizzo. Though Lizzo has been floating around the pop hemisphere for a few years, recent hit ‘Juice’ and it’s Cuz I Love You siblings have propelled her into the limelight. In a simple Instagram post, such is music promotion in 2019, the duo makes a bid to save pop music. Finally.
Just as Lizzo has been waiting for her break, ‘Blame It On Your Love’ has also been bubbling below the pop surface for a couple of years. The track is a reimagined rendition of XCX’s ambiguous ‘Track 10’, which concluded the Pop2 mixtape. Pop2 has often been considered an artistic turning point for the pop provocateur, produced with considerable influence from PC Music’s AG cook.
Much loved by fans of XCX’s more experimental sounds, ‘Track 10’ is cut with heavy synths that build into a densely layered stylistic breakthrough. It’s an unpredictable artistic glitch in style, futuristic and expressive. ‘Blame It On Your Love’ feels altogether like a fleshed-out version, primed for commercial success and produced by Norwegian hit-making duo, Stargate. XCX has satiated both hardcore fans thirst for new music and commercial radio listeners need for a catchy pop hit.
The song opens with a noticeable sample of Lumidee’s early 2000’s hit ‘Never Leave You (Uh Oh)’, hitting the same nostalgic listening point that XCX often plays to. Heavy drums from the offset make for a catchy hook and a rhythm which is maintained throughout the first verse before exploding into a high-octane chorus. The ‘wait for the drop’ structure of the track builds texture through complex layers, with hints of reggaetón undercutting the polished electro-pop and hyper-filtered melodies. XCX’s harmonies are well complimented by a chanting chorus, ensuring that the track is never monotonous.
Lizzo’s interruption at the bridge feels a little late to the party and is over before there’s adequate time to process the shift in tempo. Whilst XCX sings of an inherent fear of the vulnerability of falling in love, Lizzo offers her rebuttal. An injection of brash attitude with memorable lyrics such as “I’m tryna catch millions I ain’t tryna catch feelings” is wholly on-brand for Lizzo. The collision of attitudes ramps up the energy in a track whose lyrics are not particularly ground-breaking but every bit relatable. The simplicity works well to consolidate the track as a radio-geared hit and the repetitive title lyric “I blame it on your love” is addictive.
On paper, a star collision between XCX and Lizzo works well. XCX a subversive pop pioneer and Lizzo, one of 2019’s most talked about artists, the pair are well positioned to curate a pop smash. Are they saving pop music? ‘Blame It On Your Love’ makes a strong attempt and is certainly a contender for this summer’s omnipresent anthem. This is XCX at her most mainstream, but this time she’s maintained her artistic integrity in a cleverly produced and sonically pleasing track.