Charli XCX albums ranked

All seven Charli XCX albums ranked – including the new album Crash

It’s Charli, bay-bee!

When Charli XCX was 16, she signed a five album record deal with Asylum Records and her life changed forever. Music is what Charli lives and breathes; when she was just 14 she got a loan to create her first album and played her experimental early mixtapes in raves before she was even legally old enough to be able to attend. Her career has taken her from Tumblr-tinged outsider, to huge chart success, to avant-garde experimentation and finally into a pop star who toes the line between the mainstream and the underground. She’s been branded the future of pop for so long that now, with the release of the final album in her major label deal CRASH on Friday, we’re all finally living in the futuristic pop landscape that she shaped. But when it comes to Charli XCX and her diverse plethora of albums, how exactly do they get ranked?

I’ve been a die-hard Charli XCX fan since the True Romance days, and after much deliberation, here are all five of her albums and her two 2017 mixtapes ranked from best to worst. I didn’t include her pre-debut album mixtapes and excluded the Vroom Vroom EP because of it only being four tracks in length – but the rest of it? All ranked. Buckle up and get ready to CRASH: it’s Charli XCX albums ranked.


Charli XCX is an artist who is about as down to earth as someone as booked and busy in the music world as she is can be – the way she publicly talks about her highs and her lows has resulted in an authenticity that’s hard to find. Both in her music and in her public persona. With SUCKER, that authenticity isn’t really anywhere to be found. Charli has said on many occasions since SUCKER’s release that she wasn’t excited by the music, she openly hates hit single Break The Rules and it just doesn’t *feel* like Charli. It feels like the album Avril Lavigne should have released last month instead. Songs like Gold Coins and London Queen are absolutely the worst tunes she’s ever released, but the title track goes off. And it also homes Boom Clap – if that’s your sort of thing.

When you can hear label interference and stifled creativity, it’s never a good sign for any record. Justice for SuperLove!!!

6. True Romance

There’s a beautiful 2013 time capsule-y energy to True Romance that takes you right back to an era. It’s the era of a pastel grunge Tumblr blog, a galaxy iPhone 5 phone case and an overwhelming idolisation of Sky Ferreira. Reblogging pictures of cigs and alcohol even though you’ve only ever had a bit of WKD and haven’t had a cig in your life. It’s that era. And for what it is? There’s a lot to love here. True Romance is a record brimming with early promise and star quality – Nuclear Seasons is an excellently crafted alt pop song that deserved to be huge, You’re The One a grimy and pulsing song to grind to at a house party, Take My Hand an arresting call to arms. True Romance is a naive and sometimes childlike album, but there’s so much to love here. And heaps of nostalgia.

5. Number 1 Angel

Charli’s original third album was in limbo for a long time before eventually being scrapped entirely. During that time, she put out a mixtape called Number 1 Angel, a song that was an evolution of the SOPHIE and AG Cook sound she’d been working with since her game-changing Vroom Vroom EP in 2016. Number 1 Angel is in many ways an act of creative rebellion. Charli felt stifled by her label, and calling Number 1 Angel and Pop 2 mixtapes rather than albums allowed her to release them more freely and separately to the requirements of her record deal – telling The Fader in 2019 “it’s 10 original songs, it’s artwork, it’s features, it’s whatever, it’s the same.”

Because of that, Number 1 Angel crackles with more risk and experimentation. Her voice is robotic, the songs more avant-garde. It’s funny to me thinking back to the start of 207 when Number 1 Angel dropped and I thought it would be her magnum opus forever. The greatness of Number 1 Angel allowed Charli XCX to progress into an artist that is a true innovator. Number 1 Angel at its best has the euphoria of 3AM, the SOPHIE masterpiece Roll With Me, the iconic Cupcakke showcase on Lipgloss – even if some of its tracks lack memorable lyrics and hooks. It was great and game changing, but the best was yet to come.


I’m sure the brand new Crash will be a lot of people’s favourite Charli XCX album ever – it’s a perfect finale to her career up to this point, taking a little something from every album on this ranked list and making her most main pop girl effort ever. It’s a lean, pop filled gem that doesn’t really miss a trick across its lean 34 minute run time. Good Ones and Beg For You have given Charli her most commercial radio play exposure in years – and rightly so, they’re bops. The only reason that Crash isn’t ranked into the top three for me is that I feel like why it doesn’t really put a foot wrong at all, there’s barely a single risk taken. She stays in her lane, keeps it cute, but never leaves me with my jaw on the ground like I frequently am with the records ranked higher.

That’s not necessarily Charli’s fault – if anything, you can’t keep changing the game you already changed. Crash feels like a great, fun time – songs like Yuck and Lightning are so huge bangers and its at its best with Constant Repeat, Move Me and Baby. But it doesn’t quite get into the holy trinity of ranked Charli XCX albums, just because too often Crash feels like an album that still has its seatbelt on.

3. how i’m feeling now

Charli XCX albums ranked

If Crash has its seatbelt on, How I’m Feeling Now has never once put it on. Created in a month during the first lockdown of the Covid pandemic, Charli’s fourth major label album is a chaotic, pressure cooker risk of an album devised in collaboration from home with fans and her producers across the globe. It’s an album that reflects the tumultuous world we found ourselves in – honest, raw and unsure. But in that uncertainty and within the hard pressure of the month timeframe, Charli produced a diamond. A pink one, at that. How I’m Feeling Now is like a pandemic artefact that should live in a Covid museum as the pinnacle of lockdown-inspired creativity.

Lead single Forever is one of the most special songs Charli has ever released – an experimental odyssey of togetherness. Detonate is like Unlock It 2.0 – a bopper and a weaver that pecks its way into your head and never leaves. Enemy is a frank and raw conversation about mental health, including voice notes of Charli to her therapist. The garage-tinged I Finally Understand is her most underrated track on the album, and I could do a whole record of her laying vocals over garage beats. The star and the centrepiece is Party 4 U, a classic Charli unreleased song that got a 2020 rework into one of the most emotional and special things she’s ever written with the production just elevating it higher. How I’m Feeling Now is so special.

2. Charli

Charli XCX albums ranked

Charli is big, its bad and it’s a force to be reckoned with. After XCX World, Charli’s cancelled original third album that was scrapped when the songs leaked, she went back to the drawing board. In the time since 2015’s Sucker and 2019’s Charli her entire career changed – the Vroom Vroom EP and Number 1 Angel and Pop 2 made Charli a different artist, as well as her 2018 drip release of standalone singles resulted in 1999 becoming an unexpected hit. The resulting album was Charli – a record that balances her experimental sound perfectly and pushes her art even further into avant-garde territory, along with some commercial singles to please the label. It can at times be a bit messy – songs like Click and Shake It existing alongside 1999 and Blame It On Your Love is rather jarring – but when Charli hits, it’s the best music of her entire career.

The two track opening PUNCH of Next Level Charli into Gone, two of *thee* best songs she’s ever done, lets you know from the off this is an album that will really take you there. She shares the stage with some of the best collaborators she’s had yet, HAIM and Sky Ferreira do the damn thing on their tracks respectively. It’s got underrated gems like Thoughts, it’s got the emotional resonance of February 2017 – I just love this big, sprawling, chaotic record so much. So much that I can overlook the misses (White Mercedes, Blame It On Your Love and 1999 – the latter of which I love but it just doesn’t fit on the album). I would rather someone shoot for the moon and land on the stars instead than play it safe – and Charli is so ambitious. Both the artist and the album!

1. Pop 2

Pop 2 will turn five years old this December, and yet it still sounds like the future. It’s Charli’s most exciting and provocative record, a truly enigmatic body of work that had heads turned and tastes twisted when it first released. Honestly, I’d never really heard anything that captured my attention like this before. On Pop 2, Charli – an artist known for being a frequent collaborator – become the tastemaker that brought artists together. Across its 1o tracks, Pop 2 has 13 featured artists. Many of these in 2017 I’d never heard of, but thanks to Charli’s exposure artists like Dorian Electra, Kim Petras, Tommy Cash and Caroline Polachek have become musicians I now am a fan of almost to the level of Charli herself. Pop 2’s sense of sharing the stage makes it feel like a celebration of pop music as we know it and of the pop sound the world hasn’t met yet. It’s truly a magnetic and fascinating listen.

Opening with Backseat, Charli and Carly snarl their way over a mood setting song of loneliness that segues straight into the straightforward pop centric Out Of My Head with Tove Lo and ALMA. Lucky is Charli taking us to church – it’s her hymn. I Got It is a descent into madness and Femmebot a euphoric resurgence. Delicious is a masterpiece, Unlock It pop perfection and Track 10 the most futuristic thing Charli has ever done. I don’t think Charli XCX will ever create a record that touches Pop 2 – it will sit at the top of her albums ranked as the peak of her career. A masterclass in innovation, taste, style and risk that proves why she will permanently be the future of pop music.

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