Charli xcx

The death of the pop star

The definition of ‘pop star’ in the Collins English Dictionary is unambiguous: ‘A famous singer or musician who performs pop music.’ Well, that seems fairly self-explanatory, doesn’t it? It also seems way wide of the mark, because being a pop star (or a rock star, its longer-haired cousin) encompasses a great deal more than being famous for singing pop songs. As Nik Cohn wrote, describing the first flush of idols of the rock’n’roll age, they were ‘maniacs, wild men with pianos and guitars who would have been laughing stocks in any earlier generation… They were energetic, basic, outrageous. They were huge personalities and they used music like a battering ram.’

The triumph of bedroom pop

I must have been about 16 when I got my first Portastudio. The compact home recording unit had first been introduced by Japanese electronics firm Teac in 1979, offering unprecedented multitrack dubbing to the bed-bound amateur musician. For a little less than $1,000, you could record four separate tracks of instrumentation — as much as the Beatles had when making Sgt. Pepper — on an ordinary cassette tape. By the time I got my teenage hands on a four-track machine of my own, that price had come down by an order of magnitude. It was a chunky little unit in pigeon blue with just two microphone sockets and a small