Charli XCX, Peggy Gou and the summer of the Party Girl

Two party-starters mark a mid-year celebration of women in the dance and electronic music space

Arunima Joshua
First Published4 Jul 2024, 02:00 PM IST
Peggy Gou performs at the Glastonbury Festival 2024. Photo via Reuters
Peggy Gou performs at the Glastonbury Festival 2024. Photo via Reuters

“It’s okay to just admit that you’re jealous of me… I’m your number one,” Charli XCX chants over aggressive cyclical synths. Von Dutch, the first single off her sixth studio album, BRAT, falls under the ‘electroclash’ genre, a punk lovechild of 90s techno and 80s new wave. The track is a slap in the face—one that wakes you up to the euphoric highs of a messy night out.

On 7 June, Indian-origin British singer Charli XCX and Korean-origin Berlin-based Producer-DJ Peggy Gou both dropped their full-length albums. On BRAT, Charli obliterates and then pieces together what it means to be a popstar in 2024 as she sings-speaks, raps, confesses and announces to the world that she's bigger than you can imagine over producer A. G. Cook’s serrated yet pointed beats and distorted sounds. Peggy's I Hear You is 10 tracks of club flair that commemorate 90s Eurodance, employing slinky jungle beats, thumping sequenced drums and apparently meaningless mumbling in Korean.

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Two female party-starters mark a mid-year celebration of women in the dance and electronic music space with the release of nightlife-forward records. Is this the summer of the ‘Party Girl’?

Peggy’s anthem It Goes Like This (NaNaNa) soundtracked every club (and Instagram reel) over the last year. Charli’s BRAT is the highest rated album on Metacritic this year, with a score of 95. Billboard called Peggy 'The World's Most Wanted DJ'. Between the two of them, they are playing Primavera Sound, Coachella and Boiler Room this season; I wonder when was the last time non-male, non-Caucasian artists were the most coveted musicians that crossed over from underground rave culture to the mainstream? In a post #MeToo era with hopefully safer dancefloors, are women in nightlife finally being seen as those ruling the club?

While Black women and their voices have been at the core of dance music — Donna Summer, Chaka Khan, Grace Jones, Diana Ross, and several others — it's been a while since we've seen Asian-origin female artists make an impact on electronica and party culture in such an exciting and momentous way.

Charli XCX at the Met Gala 2024. Photo via Reuters

It’s not all good times and raising your hands up in the air. There are several vulnerable and mournful moments on BRAT. Charli wonders if she would be too late to be a mother (“I think about it all the time”) or if she really belongs anywhere (“I might say something stupid”) or if she deserves commercial success—but the party themes and hyper-pop production do not take a break. Peggy dwells on the universe, colonisation and industrialisation on Your Art, the opening track of this debut LP. Lenny Kravtiz and Peggy’s vocals express a soft romantic yearning on I Believe In Love Again. Yet the overall tapestry of I Hear You is mid-tempo electro compositions interspersed with a couple of out-and-out party anthems.

Neither Peggy nor Charli have played the part of the ‘nice girl’. On their social media, they’re always in sunglasses, never smiling, and often have their middle fingers up. This irreverent ‘bad bitch’ energy translates to their music as they reshape the narrative for female and minority music creators in dance. Charli—a gay icon—has always been a vociferous queer ally, and Peggy features transsexual Latin rapper Villano Antillano on All That.

Does this mean women who like to party can also be the ones making the music for it in 2024? With Charli and Peggy not only on the dancefloor but on the stage and behind the decks, the answer would seem to be yes.

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First Published:4 Jul 2024, 02:00 PM IST
HomeLoungeart and cultureCharli XCX, Peggy Gou and the summer of the Party Girl

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