Good Ones by Charli XCX
By Ron Powers
Good Ones by Charli XCX
Fall is upon us. That means crisp cool air, leaves changing color, and my personal favorite… pumpkin-spice lattes. As I was searching for music to bring you this fall season, I came across a tune called “Good Ones” by Charlie XCX. This is a song that is sure to add plenty of upbeat fun to your autumn excursions. It’s also extremely easy to listen to. I think I went through it five times after finding it. As someone who enjoys his fair share of music, I have to say “Good Ones” stands out among the bulk of today’s pop music. With smart and minimal production, Charli XCX delivers a song that sounds modern, and at the same time, like a 1980s classic.
The song begins with a punchy synth bass followed by an ultra-catchy verse melody. In addition to a great melody, the honest nature of the lyrics further deepens the connection between artist and audience by giving the listener a glimpse of the singer’s struggles with relationships. With relaxed yet lively energy, Charlie XCX delivers the lines, “I wish you gave me a reason / That you were better at leavin’ / That you got your kicks from seein’ me low / I always let the good ones go”. For the second half of the first verse, a saturated four-on-the-floor drum beat is added. Additionally, the central hook–“I always let the good ones go”–is further established with its repetition at the end of the first verse.
As the chorus is introduced, the bass and drums drop out, and a simple four-chord pattern is delivered with a smooth synth pad. The vocal is prominently nested in the mix with multiple layers and extensive processing which includes heavy saturation, compression, stereo width, and slapback delay. I’m particularly struck by how much energy is created on the chorus in spite of its sparse instrumentation. It feels like so much more is going on when you’re just listening to the track. Charli XCX shows great pop sense on “Good Ones” in that she doesn’t bury the gold of the song under too much arrangement. Instead, she removes everything that is not needed, allowing the essential elements to shine brighter.
After the chorus, Charli XCX lifts the song even higher with a knockout post-chorus. Before the beat drops, we hear the line “I always let the good ones go”, with the word “go” extending into a fantastic melody that carries throughout the section. I’m always impressed when a song has a strong post-chorus. An expansive feeling that reaches beyond satisfaction is created when an artist is able to deliver something that brings the energy up even higher than the chorus. It’s a technique that breaks your “guessing machine” and allows a listener to get lost in the music.
In addition to “Good Ones” being a big hit, Charli XCX has several performances lined up for October with stops in New York, Columbia, and London. If you’d like to learn more about Charli XCX you can find her on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you’d like to listen to her music you can find it on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and most places music is streamed or sold.