Charli XCX Gathers Online It Girls for Charitable Cause: Hotness

Charli XCX via YouTube
Charli XCX via YouTube

A wise man previously coined the next three months as the summer of the MILF resurgence. What I—or, sorry, he—foolishly didn’t predict is that summer 2024 is also the summer of the HGILTBFW, or, the Hot Girl I’d Like to Be Friends With. No one is more prepared for this summer’s hottie heat wave than Charli XCX, who is no stranger to being hot. In fact, the pop supernova has somewhere between eight to 38 songs on the subject of hotness alone, depending on when you may be reading this. A new hot girl hymn (or an alluring aria, a sexy song, a desirable ditty—take your pick ) could easily drop tomorrow. Hell, one just has!

Charli’s new song “360,” the latest single from her forthcoming album Brat, is the singer’s umpteenth lyrical masterclass in hotness, an intensive on vanity so hyper-focused that it could be taught at the Learning Annex. But why go to a tawdry public education facility when you could simply sit at home and rewatch the video for “360,” which takes Charli’s signature ego-forward lyrics and applies them to the internet’s favorite It Girls? The visual assembles the trendiest women from pop culture’s past, present, and future to throw them in editorial-ready scenarios where they can pose for the camera and show off.

The video might be a regular Hot-toberfest, but what “360” suggests is much broader and more euphoric than it may initially appear. Here, Charli spits in the face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to create the HGCU (Hot Girl Cinematic Universe—duh!), the most ambitious crossover event in Instagram addict history. Models, actors, influencers, and multihyphenates come together to be beautiful together, and in turn, thrust that beauty outward and through the screen. It’s an infectious, cameo-filled romp that asks its viewers to shirk any self-doubt or internal loathing and enjoy the person they see in the mirror. In Charli’s world, “360” envisions a utopia where everyone is not just hot, but an It Girl in their own right. How fucking refreshing!

Attractiveness has always been a concept that interests Charli. But where past songs have been so utterly literal that they can’t help but be funny, “360” aims for something more cheeky. The video is filled with winking references and satirical self-deprecation, starting from the very beginning. Charli walks into a restaurant (through what would appear to be the back entrance, naturally—a star never enters from the front) and glances at her phone to see a message from her model-and-sometimes-singer friend Gabbriette Bechtel, telling her where to meet. The hot girl convention is happening at “Skyferrori’s Trattoria,” referencing a popular X user that Charli follows in real life (and nods at Sky Ferreira, one of Charli’s past collaborators).

At this janky eatery, a table of the world’s most beautiful and enigmatic women have joined Bechtel. There’s Rachel Sennott, star of Bottoms and every viral video you love; Chloe Cherry, the plump-lipped breakout star of Euphoria Season 2; Salem Mitchell, whose freckles have taken the world by storm; and so many more. Charli seems annoyed that everyone is so excited to see her. She’s just here to perform her song! But instead, Bechtel tells Charli that she must fulfill a prophecy and find the new, hot internet girl. “Or else our kind will cease to exist… forever,” Cherry adds. Charli sighs—being tasked as the purveyor of trendy beauty is sooooooo exhausting—and chooses a random person in the room. “Charli, that’s literally Julia Fox,” Sennott says, as the multitalented Fox waves hello.

Charli then selects the restaurant’s waitress, an undiscovered talent, and the group at the table fills the service worker in on how to be the next hot internet girl. “You need to have this, like, je ne sais quoi,” Fox says. (“It’s, like, definitely a je ne sais quoi kind of situation,” Charli agrees.) Bechtel also thinks that being an internet It Girl is about being hot, but “in, like, a scary way.” After the group sorts all of that, Charli turns to the camera and starts a series of poses as the plinking, ecstatic synths of “360” begin.

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Director Aidan Zamiri puts Charli through a series of technically perfect match cuts, jumping between the singer as she stands, looking stunning, straddling a dying man on a hospital gurney and letting a workout machine vibrate her whole body while pouring herself a glass of wine. Model and TikTok favorite Alex Consani smokes cigarettes with Charli in the hospital, and Sennott and Fox flank Charli in the gym, lazily lifting weights and taking selfies. “I went my own way, and I made it,” Charli sings. “I’m your favorite reference, baby… If you love it, if you hate it, I don’t fucking care what you think.”

Charli rolls her eyes to the camera while she lip-syncs this lyric—not in a playful way, but in a manner that looks completely exasperated. It’s as if she’s saying that she couldn’t be more tired of critics conflating her ego-inflated persona with the quality of her music, despite Charli herself orchestrating that relationship in her lyrics. Some may find that dissonance frustrating, but in “360,” the disconnect between the song’s lyrics and the silly yet severe video creates something thoroughly intriguing. This is Charli saying that being hot and having fun doesn’t have to be some kind of grand social statement, a Lizzo-level testament of self-love that blares from radio stations around the country. Instead, it can be as simple as dancing in the mirror and smiling at your reflection. “When you’re in the mirror, do you like what you see?” Charli asks in the chorus.

Of course, this idea is made much grander by the video, where Charli is so damn confident as she floats between rooms that she doesn’t even acknowledge them falling apart around her. Model and actress Hari Nef and influencer Blizzy McGuire aim their phone cameras at Charli, posing for photos. Coffee magnate and occasional YouTuber Emma Chamberlain glances over her shoulder in the driver’s seat of a car, assessing the damage of the fender bender she just made. (Her vehicle is on top of another car.) Amidst it all, Charli struts down the street, flicking her hair multiple times. “I’m everywhere, I’m so Julia!” she sings, referencing Fox’s ubiquity.

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Suddenly, Chloë Sevigny opens the door of another car, cigarette in hand. The ultimate It Girl slams the door of the car she was just hotboxing and tosses her lit smoke behind her, sending a trash can up in flames. Charli, Sevigny, and a smaller group of the video’s cast members all pose together on the street, mugging at the camera both completely serious and not serious at all. Seeing Charli and Sevigny together is a crash course in the message of “360.” It’s not about Charli and her friends being the most gorgeous, intimidating people on earth. It’s about knowing that you have the capacity for that beauty inside yourself, and pushing it forth. Sevigny has made an esteemed career out of hopping between odd jobs that fit her wild sensibilities. She’s been an actor, a designer, a perfumer, and countless other things, and they all fit because she approached them with total confidence. What’s to say that you and I couldn’t do the same? Charli certainly seems to think we can.

“360” pleads us to have that same level of trust in ourselves, even if it’s manufactured. The song itself is a product, anyway. And Brat, the album it’s a part of, is named for the kind of certitude that some people find off-putting. Women are rarely allowed the space for this kind of infectious hubris. But in Charli’s world—a trans-inclusionary space where women of all kinds can come together and be really fucking hot while doing whatever they want—paradise can be found in the short time of the song’s length: just two minutes and 14 seconds. That’s all the time one needs to feel a little better. And if the contempt for yourself returns after “360” is over? Just press repeat.

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