We know, we know. You're reading this and thinking to yourself: hang on, Charli XCX only has two albums out and yet these chumps at The 405 are already doing a list on her essential tracks!?

Fine. Scorn away if you so wish but, truth is, the Charli XCX discography boasts such an over-abundance of A+ tracks that we thought we'd give the uninitiated an easy inroad to her catalogue. We could just point new listeners to the debut, True Romance, which had no skippables on it or its follow-up, last year's Sucker, a lesson in How To Release A Second Album That Doesn't Disappoint, but - being the conscientious people that we are - we thought we'd put some effort into this thing and steer XCX novices towards the cream of the crop.

There was a bit of science involved in compiling the list below. We took into account: brilliance of lyrics, excellence of production, degree of catchiness and overall likelihood we'd still want to listen to the songs in questions a couple of years down the line. These factors were computed using a formula as hush hush as your nan's very secret recipe for that amazing cake she makes whenever you remember to come and visit. In other words, if we told you, we'd have to kill you. That would be unpleasant. So on with the music:

Nuclear Seasons

This should've been number one for at least three weeks in every country in the world but it somehow wasn't and, although we're not ones to hold grudges, we're not quite over it. Before anyone really knew who Charli XCX was, if you signed up for her mailing list you got a free download of this track. Which is incredible when you come to think of it because 'Nuclear Seasons' is, undeniably, her best song and she nevertheless gave it away for free. How generous is that? Oh wait, that may explain why it wasn't number one for three weeks in every country in the world. Either way, it still sounds as fresh as it did when it first came out in 2011. Also, how great is the lyric: "When you go please don't leave your love in the sun /my heart would melt away"? Very.

Boom Clap

Several people would contest our assertion that 'Nuclear Seasons' is Charli's best track, citing 'Boom Clap' as the rightful title-holder. Thing is, they'd be wrong, but only marginally because 'Boom Clap' really does reside in a sphere of superbness which very few songs manage to approach.

'Lock You Up'

The song that shoulda-woulda-coulda been a single. Sometimes record labels are stupid and make decisions that make zero sense. The fact that 'Lock You Up' wasn't released as a single is a prime example of such dumb-ass decision making. Originally appearing on Charli's Heartbreaks and Earthquakes mixtape, it's wonderful and stands as a gorgeous closing number on True Romance. Managing to sound like a modern-day Kim Wilde hit, we have a lot of time and a lot of love for it.

'You're The One'

With some songs you need a couple of listens before you can even think about whether you're on board or not. 'You're The One' was one such song for us when it first came out, which is ridiculous because we now love it so much that we can't imagine a time when we weren't 100% sure about it, you know? Oh well. It's all fine now. We're sure about it.

'I Want It That Way'

A cover version. Of a Backstreet Boys hit, no less. Charli once explained that she chose to cover this song because it was a beautiful, powerful epic pop song. What an excellent choice and an excellent rendition.

'Break The Rules'

Every second of this is infectious.

'Diamonds (With Giorgio Moroder)'

Moroder's VIP-packed Déjà Vu album from last year included collaborations with Kylie, Sia. Britney and Kelis (amongst others), so Charli was in very good company with her contribution, 'Diamonds'. The song is a definite high point on the record and, arguably, gave the 12-track set its best chorus after Kylie's 'Right Here, Right Now'. 'Diamonds' is said to have been written when Charli was around 16 years old but she couldn't quite make it work in the context of True Romance, so it's great that it found its way out to the world via Moroder's collection.

'You (Ha Ha Ha)'

A case of planets being aligned. The beats, the melody, the arrangement, the bleepy vocal effects in the background that in any other circumstances would be getting on your nerves. It all just works splendidly. We particularly like the middle-eight-y bit, which then erupts back into the chorus again.


Imagine this as a duet with Sky Ferreira. Well, that's actually happened: at a gig in L.A. back in 2012 Ferreira joined Charli on stage to perform this monster track, which also first appeared on the Heartbreaks and Earthquakes mixtape. It's urgent, unrelenting and B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T.

'Stay Away'

The first proper-ish single from 2011 and a good blueprint for the material that was to emerge later on, particularly 'You're The One'. It got people's attention and justifiably so. A moody, sultry track with strong beats and oomph.

'What I Like'

The frenetic start of this song is completely deceptive because after 21 seconds it turns into something different altogether. Charli's rap-voice is put to good use in the verses and then the vocoder effects on the pre-chorus take it all up a notch. In the actual words of the song: this shit is super-wild, this shit is super-cool.

'I Love It (With Icona Pop)'

A little-known song with nothing catchy about it whatsoever.

'Vroom Vroom'

Baroness XCX recently launched her own record label, Vroom Vroom Recordings, with a 4-track extended player of which this is the title track. The song was produced by SOPHIE and calls to mind the overall feel of the Heartbreaks and Earthquakes mixtape. In fact, it's like an entire mixtape in one three minutes and thirteen seconds nugget. A bit schizophrenic and a bit amazing.