Tech Bros, Meet Your New Club Classic

The release of Charli XCX’s sixth studio album ‘Brat’ marks the beginning of the summer for many of her fans. Featuring the “hyperpop” PC music style cultivated by XCX and the late SOPHIE with producer A.G. Cook, the new record comes out in preparation for her Sweat Tour with ‘Rush’ singer Troye Sivan. With songs including ‘Von Dutch’ and ‘360’, XCX’s innovative electropop style embodies the forward-thinking, creative mindset of techno-optimism.

Often loud and unconventionally structured, the “hyperpop” music of ‘Brat’ captures the artistic perspective of those championing free market values in the tech sector. Harnessing the capabilities of digital instruments and software to create unique new sounds, XCX’s music embraces technology. While other artists eschew dance music, opting for stripped-back acoustic sound (see Taylor Swift’s ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’), Cook’s PC music artists—including Hannah Diamond and Tommy Cash—build original sounds inspired by decades of electronic music.

Charli XCX began her career in the rave scene as a young teenager, accompanied (of course) by her parents. The British singer later emerged as a rising pop artist with the 2014 hits ‘Boom Clap’ and Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy’, receiving broader attention in the United States and Australia. But XCX sought to distinguish herself among other young stars by developing her unique sound. She turned to SOPHIE, who helped to produce the career-defining ‘Vroom Vroom’ EP that renavigated the Billboard-charting pop star back to niche club audiences.

The proceeding records and mixtapes from 2016 to 2022, including ‘Number 1 Angel’, ‘Pop 2’, ‘Charli’, ‘How I’m Feeling Now’ and ‘Crash’, cemented XCX’s reputation for creating fun, authentic hyperpop music. Songs like ‘Track 10’—which she later reimagined as ‘Blame It On Your Love’ featuring Lizzo—built a distinctively emotional sound for electronic music. With perfect harmonized vocals quickly contrasted with heavily distorted beats, the British singer distinguished herself in the industry and inspired others.

Her influence can be seen across the music scene, from the remix album ‘Dawn of Chromatica’ for Lady Gaga’s sixth studio album ‘Chromatica’ to AG Cook’s production on Troye Sivan’s track ‘How to Stay with You’. Furthermore, the songwriter’s experimental style embodies the goals of a broader movement for human progress and innovation: techno-optimism. Built on the idea that new technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) voices and virtual instruments, can empower humanity’s growth and flourishing, techno-optimism embraces the artistic contributions of hyperpop, AI-generated imagery and more.

Although many fear AI and other new technology could replace human creative expression and pose serious challenges to intellectual property rights and attribution, techno-optimism recognizes this development will only supplement the experiences and ideas of the human mind. Largely a niche mindset of developers and entrepreneurs on social media, the values of human progress and development run strong through the beat drops of AG Cook or Charli XCX. By all accounts, their “hyperpop” exemplifies a more subliminal political attitude shift that may be brewing among diverse, youthful audiences.

Both technologists seeking to inspire broader audiences to oppose new regulations of the online world and heavy industry developers alike should draw on the cultural influence of voices like XCX. With deeper credibility among Gen Z listeners, “hyperpop” artists and other tech-forward communities could expand the brand of techno-optimism and future-builders. Silicon Valley, Miami and beyond, meet your new head DJ: Charli XCX. It’s obvious she’s your #1.

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Sam Raus

Sam Raus is a Young Voices Contributor and a recent University of Miami graduate, majoring in public relations and political science. His commentary has appeared in RealClearPolitics, The Daily Caller, and The National Interest. Follow him on Twitter @SamRaus1.

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