LOS ANGELES — Charli XCX isn’t yet a household name, but you’ve heard her songs.
Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” which she co-wrote and is featured on, is the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 for the second week in a row, and her song “Boom Clap” from the soundtrack to the No. 1 movie in the country, The Fault In Our Stars, is rising on the iTunes charts. In the middle of what is perhaps the 21-year-old British singer’s biggest week, she performed an intimate hourlong set in Los Angeles presented by Sonos and Pandora on Tuesday.
Charli XCX is a certifiable hitmaker (she also co-wrote and was featured on Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” which peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 last year), but despite her obvious pop star prowess, her Top 40 hook-writing talents were showcased with a three-piece band instead of a radio-edit backing track and the Beverly Hills High School cheerleader outfit from “Fancy” left at home in favor of a black biker jacket and gold dress.
That Charli can move between dark, glitchy indie pop and shiny, bright chart pop effortlessly comes across as authentic; a rock front woman agnostic about arbitrary genre designations who just so happens to write really good pop songs and isn’t desperate for the spotlight. “Remember my name / ‘bout to blow,” she sings in the chorus of “Fancy,” even though she never actually tells us her name anywhere in the song.
A tricked out “Fancy” remix played before Charli took the stage, but it was the last the song was mentioned or heard during the show. The set list was made up mostly of tracks from her 2013 album True Romance, quirky, left-field pop like “Nuclear Seasons” and “You (Ha Ha Ha).”
The handful of new tracks Charli previewed Tuesday sounded like possible contenders to break her as a solo artist in her own right. “Superlove,” the catchy lead single from her still-untitled upcoming second album packs the funk sound in vogue since Pharrell started wearing big hats. Meanwhile, “London Queen,” about moving to Hollywood, and “Breaking Up,” about a lame ex-boyfriend, are ’70s punk-inspired jams.
Charli admitted to not knowing what to say between songs, but that didn’t stop her from rocking out. During “Breaking Up,” when a wardrobe malfunction caused her to momentarily flash the audience, she remained unflapped. “She’s like the female Mick Jagger,” one attendee said to a man taking photos on a white iPhone with a Lady Gaga background. Then she pulled up her dress.