Charli XCX's 2020 album How I'm Feeling Now (2020) was recorded during lockdown, in collaboration with her fans, and was described by Lewis Gordon in ArtReview as the purest, and most life-affirming, crystallisation of (..) cute and wholesome aesthetics'. During a difficult time, she brought her community together to unabashedly celebrate togetherness, collaboration and all things cute.

It started March 2020, when she tweeted a screenshot of her notes app: 'quarantine is making me think about the possibilities of a shift within my industry. I'm talking extremes here, she wrote. Exactly two months later, she released her fourth album, How I'm Feeling Now. The record, from its lyrics and instrumentals to its artwork, was made in collaboration with her fans. As lockdowns set in around the world, she encouraged her audience to share ideas for the album with her via email and workshopped lyrics on Instagram live. 'Anthems', a song written in one of these sessions, is about the new world that Charli and her fans were experiencing collectively: 'sometimes I feel OK / Some days I'm so frightened. 

Today, fans have more access than ever before to their favourite pop stars; they are known and loved not only for their music but for the versions of their personalities and lifestyles that they share on social media. This is normally a one-way relationship but, for How I'm Feeling Now, XCX opened a channel for her audience to contribute to her music and offered a new kind of togetherness at a time when many were feeling isolated.

Words by Phin Jennings / CUTE Exhibition
These three are my favorite ones ;)
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