Is Charli XCX's "Girl, So Confusing" About Lorde?

There’s nothing like a good feud to create some buzz. Charli XCX’s new project and her sixth studio album, Brat, isn’t even out yet in the United States (it drops the evening of June 6), but it’s already causing a stir. After first making news with an internet It Girl-filled music video for single “360,” the singer is being talked about for another reason: Brat contains a few songs that fans have decided are diss tracks. The first, “Von Dutch,” released as a single on February 29, was—sort of—confirmed by the artist to be considered a dig.

“I’m seeing online that some people think there are diss tracks on Brat,” the 31-year-old said in a TikTok posted last week. “I just want to come on her and clarify that there aren’t, apart from ‘Von Dutch,’ which kind of is.”

Fans have speculated that “Von Dutch,” with the opening line, “It’s okay to just admit that you’re jealous of me,” is about anyone from Charli D’Amelio to Camila Cabello to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (okay, that one might be a stretch).

But it’s Brat’s track “Girl, so confusing” that has fans zeroing in on one particular peer of Charli’s: Lorde. The A.G. Cook-produced song talks about a complex, competitive relationship with a fellow female singer. “I don’t know if you like me/Sometimes I think you might hate me/Sometimes I think I might hate you/Maybe you just wanna be me,” Charli sings. While this could be about almost anyone, one line in particular would be an easy reference to Lorde: “People say we’re alike/They say we’ve got the same hair.”

In a recent Rolling Stone UK cover story, Charli admitted to being envious of Lorde’s smash success with 2013’s “Royals” and frustrated with being mixed up with the similarly raven-haired singer (Charli’s debut album came out the same year, following the breakout success of her Icona Pop collaboration “I Love It”). “When ‘Royals’ came out, I was super jealous of the success that that song got, and that Ella got,” she said. “You piece all this stuff together in your brain, like: ‘She was into my music. She had big hair; I had big hair. She wore black lipstick; I once wore black lipstick.’ You create these parallels and think, ‘Well, that could have been me.’ But it couldn’t have because we’re completely different people. I wasn’t making music that sounded anything like ‘Royals’. I think you just read what you want into it because you’re feeling insecure about your own work.”

She also discussed the song further on Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang’s Las Culturistas podcast, saying, “I haven’t quite decided whether I’m revealing” [who the song is about]. “When I wrote it, I was like, ‘I’m revealing!’ But now, you know, the time is here; I’m like, ‘Mmmmrrmm.’ Do you think I should reveal?… People are gonna guess. You probably have an accurate guess, and I’m not gonna say out loud ’cause you’ll tell by my face, but it’s probably going to be that person.”

She continued, “I think we live in the world of pop music right now where women are like, ‘I support other women! I love women! I’m a feminist.’ And that’s great. Love that… I don’t think you become a bad feminist if you maybe don’t see eye to eye with every single woman. That’s not the nature of human beings. There’s a competitiveness between us. There’s envy. There camaraderie. There’s all of these different dynamics.”

Lorde, for her part, is embracing the situation. The New Zealand singer, who has been teasing her own return to music following 2021’s lukewarmly received Solar Power, posted a message about Charli’s album to her Instagram stories. Over a picture of the Brat cover, she wrote: “The only album I’ve ever presaved is out today… Charli just cooked this one different… So much grit, grace and skin in the game. I speak for all of us when I say it’s an honour to be moved, changed and gagged by her work. There is NO ONE like this bitch.”

Even if the song is about Lorde, it seems less like an actual diss track and more like a frank exploration of the sticky dynamics that pop up between women—and all kinds of artistic and professional peers, for that matter—from time to time. As Charli said of the complicated feelings that arise from being in both competition and collaboration with other female artists: “We’re not supposed to talk about it, but these songs do talk about it. And I’ll probably be chastised forever, but whatever, that’s reality.”

In addition to Brat, Charli recently announced her joint “Sweat” arena tour with friend Troye Sivan starting September 14 in Detroit, Michigan. Maybe Lorde will make a guest appearance—now that would be a twist.

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