The Meaning Behind “Boom Clap” by Charli XCX and Why She’s a Different Kind of Pop Star

When Charli XCX released her first album True Romance in 2013, its commercial success didn’t reflect the enthusiasm of her diehard fans and approving critics.

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But rather than chase trends or charts, Charli used her fierce talent to make pop music bend in her direction.

For Sucker, her second album, Charli looked to punk rock for inspiration. She referenced the Ramones, The Hives, and Weezer to create the follow-up to True Romance.

The album grew from her frustration with the music industry, and she collaborated with Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo and ex-Vampire Weekender Rostam Batmanglij (and others) to create an empowering pop album.

“Boom Clap” finally awoke the mainstream world to Charli XCX’s independent spirit.

Love Sounds Like This

Charli’s electro young-love banger turns a heartbeat into a pop song as memorable as a nursery rhyme.

You’re picture-perfect blue
Sunbathing on the moon
Stars shining as your bones illuminate
First kiss just like a drug
Under your influence
You take me over, you’re the magic in my veins
This must be love

“Boom Clap’s” onomatopoeia foreshadows Kylie Minogue’s 2023 sleeper hit, “Padam Padam.” Like Minogue, Charli speaks to the anticipation and bliss of new love.

Boom, clap
The sound of my heart
The beat goes on and on and on and on and
Boom, clap
You make me feel good
Come on to me, come on to me now

The Writers and Hilary Duff

The song dates back to the True Romance sessions. Charli wrote “Boom Clap” with Fredrik Berger, Patrik Berger, and Stefan Gräslund—they pitched it to Hilary Duff, but her management turned it down. Charli’s disappointment turned into a blessing as she was amidst a career-changing collaboration with Swedish pop duo Icona Pop.  

No silver or no gold
Could dress me up so good
You’re the glitter in the darkness of my world
Just tell me what to do
I’ll fall right into you
We’re going under, cast the spell, just say the word
I feel your love

Guest Features and (Finally) a Breakthrough

Icona Pop featured Charli on their slow-burn smash hit “I Love It” in 2013, and the British singer finally had a hit. She repeated the success with Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” but Charli was more than a featured artist; she co-wrote both singles.

The two songs reached No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, and Charli followed the momentum with a new album and “Boom Clap’s” inclusion on the soundtrack for the teen drama The Fault in Our Stars.

The Fault in Our Stars

“Boom Clap” is featured in the coming-of-age romantic film The Fault in Our Stars. Based on John Green’s 2012 novel of the same name, the Josh Boone-directed movie follows two teenagers with cancer who fall in love under the backdrop of their terminal diseases.

Charli spoke with Billboard in 2014 about the film. “Oh my God, it’s like a full-on, amazing cry-fest,” she said. “The scene that [‘Boom Clap’] is in is an uplifting moment in the film. And while the song itself is very euphoric and enthusiastic about romance, it’s about wanting to fall in love, but there’s this hint of sadness in that, which I like.”

MySpace Chic

Cambridge, England-born Charlotte Aitchison began posting music to MySpace as a teenager. She recorded her first album at 14, and though it gained attention, she later scrapped the project.

She used Charli XCX for her MSN Messenger display name, and after performing at underground raves in east London, enrolled at University College London’s Slade School of Fine Art.

Then Charli signed with Asylum Records in 2010 but felt unsure of her future in music.

She told The Guardian, “I was lost, you know? I was still in school; I’d just come out of this weird rave scene, and I wasn’t really sure what to make of that. And when I got signed, I hated pop music; I wanted to make bad rap music. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what I liked. Even though I was signed, I was still figuring it out.”

Goth Pop

She found a kindred spirit in Los Angeles-based producer Ariel Rechtshaid, who co-wrote “Stay Away” with Charli. Although she had connected with a left-of-center goth-pop audience, commercial success remained out of reach.

However, Charli wanted to control her career, and if commercial success were to come, it would be on her terms. Charli’s career shifted gears with her breakthrough collaborations a few months after True Romance.

Charli XCX is a different kind of pop star. She’s self-assured and uncompromising, and her albums mirror the vibrant mess of the journey she took to arrive.

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Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images

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