We chat to the pop princess about getting Mac DeMarco, Stormzy, Diplo and literally every other man alive to appear in her self-directed video
There’s no boy dreamy enough to swerve a party over – ever. But Charli XCX’s latest video makes it tempting, as the singer has recruited a multitude of guys on the scene for her self-directed, bubblegum pink visual. Stormzy, A.G. Cook, Riz Ahmed, Joey Badass, Brendon Urie, and many many more join the all-star male lineup standing in the way of any other plans, like, say, your emo karaoke/homemade kegs of Woo Woo night.
“In every city I got one with different ringtones, flying from LA all the way to Puerto Rico. My girls are calling me asking me where I’m at, didn’t hit ‘em back,” she sings. “I'm sorry that I missed your party, I wish I had a better excuse... I was busy dreaming about boys.”
“‘Boys’ is my favourite music video I’ve ever made,” the singer and pop songwriter says. “I just wanna say a big thanks to all the boys involved, for totally embracing and understanding my vision and being excited by the concept. P.S. – no boys were harmed in the making of this video.”
The fizzing, sweet, and fantastical slow banger “Boys” is a refreshing subversion of the modern pop video; Charli stays behind the camera, working with Kendrick Lamar collaborator Sarah McColgan as the boys – gender stereotypes aside – turn up as the cute, silly, distracting objects of thirst. We’re treated to a montage of dudes doing sweet things: Urie lies on a bed of roses, a shirtless Mac licks a guitar, Khalid and Diplo play with puppies, Riz whispers sweet nothings to a pink bear. The track is the second release from her forthcoming third album, a follow-up to her 2017 mixtape Number 1 Angel, set for release next year.
We chat to Charli about her boy-tinted vision, classic party tunes, and her upcoming album.
What’s the idea behind ‘Boys’?
Charli XCX: The song ‘Boys’ is basically about dreaming about all the cuties out there in the world. It’s a fantasy track, basically. And the video, I mean, I guess it’s about making boys the ‘sexy’ part of a pop video for once, instead of the girls. It was really fun to direct.
How did this all come about, getting so many guys involved?
Charli XCX: Haha, well, I didn’t write a lot of this track so I really felt like I needed to direct the video to feel connected to the song. It’s very rare for me to take a song I haven’t written. I love writing and it’s a big part of who I am as an artist, but the second I heard the hook of ‘Boys’ I had this idea for the video and I knew I had to do it. And re: getting the boys – most of them are friends or people I know or have worked with. However, I did join a stupid funny celebrity dating app so I could meet a few more boys and talk them into the video. That was pretty funny, but I won’t say who I met on there! All the guys were all really down and totally got the concept. No one was a diva.
“I did join a stupid funny celebrity dating app so I could meet a few more boys and talk them into the video” – Charli XCX
Music videos of days gone by (and a lot still today sure) are steered by the male gaze imposed on women, who tended to be background characters in visuals – is this turning it on its head?
Charli XCX: Well, obviously that's been a big influence on my video. In my opinion there's nothing wrong with a woman being overtly sexy/sexual as long as that’s their choice. But I definitely made an active choice to not appear in this video. It was very important for me.
What makes a perfect party?
Charli XCX: Fun people who love to dance and the best DJ playing amazing songs, e.g. Macarena/LMFAO/Pitbull, etc.
Who’s the boy that would make you miss a party? Or your favourite from the video?
Charli XCX: I would never miss a party for a boy, they would have to come with me. And if I had to pick who to take with me, I would probably either take A. G. Cook ‘cos he’s the best dancer at parties or Diplo because he has a really great array of fidget spinners which is v. impressive.
Who would you want to collaborate with? Is there more coming up with PC Music?
Charli XCX: I’m totally obsessed with Khalid. I’m super happy he was in the video. Honestly, he’s one of the sweetest most kind people ever and I’m so happy/lucky he was in the video. Any time I hear his voice on the radio my heart melts! He’s so wonderful. I’ve also been working a lot with Alma on some new music for her. I’m not sure what's coming out but I really believe in her and she’s so wild. I recently spent a week with her in this crazy house in the middle of nowhere in Suffolk writing songs. A. G. and easyFun (of PC Music) were there too. Maybe you guys will hear some of that stuff soon, who knows.
“I would never miss a party for a boy” – Charli XCX
On your tour, what are your listening habits like? What are you listening to and liking the most?
Charli XCX: I listen to a lot of demos from when I’ve been writing in the studio. When I write, I get really sucked into the world of the song, so I kind of end up listening to myself. However, other albums I've really enjoyed are the latest Cashmere Cat album. And I really liked PC Music’s ‘Month of Mayhem’ too.
Can you say anything about your upcoming third album? How will it differ, or continue the vibe, of Number 1 Angel?
Charli XCX: It will feel a bit more classic. More pop. There are a few ballads on there. It’s going to come out in 2018. I don’t like to sit on songs and not have them come out for ages, so I’ll probably decide the final tracklist for the album a couple of months before it’s gonna come out. Until then, I don’t really want to think too much about it. I just want to write.
All the boys in the “Boys” video
Bring Me The Horizon (Olly Sykes)
Dan Smith (Bastille)
A. G. Cook
Liam Fray (Courteners)
One OK Rock
Portugal – The Man
Prince & Jacob
Riz Ahmed & The Swet Shop Boys
Sage The Gemini
The Fat Jewish
The Libertines (Carl)
The Slaves (Laurie)
Ty Dolla $ign