I Cannot Stop Talking About Brat Summer—Here’s Why Everyone Should Embrace It

I know what you’re thinking: The Everygirl, known Swiftian publication…commenting on hyperpop? These girls, the ones who regularly post memes about relishing canceled plans? These girls are weighing in on Brat summer?!

While you would be correct to assume that The Everygirl team is not literally “bumpin’ that,” there comes a time, dear reader, when there is a cultural moment so big, so important, and so bratty, that we have no choice but to jump on the bandwagon. Charli XCX’s sixth album, Brat, is taking the internet and the world by storm this summer. We, as gals who are mostly about writing poems (and occasionally about throwing parties), can’t look away. Brat green is lighting up phone screens across the globe, and we’re here for it.

The internet frenzy begs the question: What does it really mean to have a Brat summer? If you’ve been listening to the album as obsessively as I have, you know it’s about way more than white tank tops, skinny cigarettes, and clubbing—though we are absolutely putting our hands up and dancing to this album in at least some capacity. Here are six things you need to do to have a truly Brat summer this year.

1. Hype yourself up—in the mirror or otherwise

Brat’s opening track, “360,” was an instant smash hit. In this song, Charli asks: What would happen if we swapped our focus on female confidence for a focus on straight-up cuntiness? It’s a bold question in an era when women must provide meticulously collected evidence of our accomplishments to be deemed worthy. If you’re committed to adopting a Brat mindset this summer, know that sometimes you have to ditch the resumé building and manifestation journaling in favor of just staring in the mirror and feeling really hot. To be a brat is to bypass the bogus treadmill that women are placed on in order to achieve. In other words, you don’t fucking care what they think.

“Sometimes you have to ditch the resumé building and manifestation journaling in favor of just staring in the mirror and feeling really hot.”

2. Publicly fight your demons

Brat is a stunningly vulnerable album, sprinkled with several songs that spotlight some of Charli XCX’s biggest insecurities. Famously, “Sympathy is a knife” reveals how insecure Charli feels in the face of another female artist who “taps her insecurities” with false niceties and too-sweet sympathy. “I might say something stupid” is a more direct analysis of Charli’s position in the music industry, as a cult-classic pop star. And “Girl, so confusing” laments an imagined sense of competition between Charli and a fellow female artist to whom she is constantly compared.

Brat summer means we’re done pretending like we don’t get insecure, have intrusive thoughts, or suffer from impostor syndrome. We’re done pretending like we don’t feel competitive toward other women in a capitalistic, patriarchal system that we all know is forcing us to compete. To have a Brat summer is to be as loud about your insecurities as you are about your accomplishments. It’s active self-consciousness that’s refreshingly frank, not unlike a toddler’s temper tantrum. Have someone in your life who intimidates you regularly? Be honest about it. Pissed off that you haven’t gotten a shot at #1 yet? Now’s the time to be loud about your frustration. This summer, let go of the concern that thoughtfully criticizing other women is unfeminist; you’re smarter than that, and Charli knows it, too.

“Brat summer means we’re done pretending like we don’t get insecure, have intrusive thoughts, or suffer from impostor syndrome.”

3. Grieve what you’ve lost

We all remember that summer 2023 was about Barbie, but times have changed in 2024. The cultural transition from Barbie to Brat, from neon pink to neon green, shows what we’ve lost in the past twelve months. A Brat is just a Barbie who’s seen some shit. This year, the world feels scarier and more foreboding than ever before, and pretending like this isn’t the case does no one any good. These feelings of nostalgia, grief, and loss of innocence are captured perfectly on Brat with tracks like “Rewind” and “So I.” In “Rewind,” Charli reflects on a simpler era, when she cared less about her appearance, critical acclaim, and commercial success. “So I” is a tribute to Scottish producer and songwriter SOPHIE, Charli’s late friend and collaborator. Both songs capture the sweet sadness of grieving a different time.

Unlike the girl-branded summers of years past (“hot girl,” “tomato girl,” etc.), a Brat summer isn’t about pretending like everything is ok or having a sunny outlook at all times. There’s a twinge of sadness to Charli’s entire album, reminding us that it’s ok to cry, even if we’re doing so on the dance floor.

Charlie XCX and Lorde attend the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards

Source: Getty

“There is no way to please everyone, so you might as well tear shit apart.”

brat girl summer

4. Question conventions of womanhood

If your Roman Empire is motherhood, Charli XCX has a song for you. For those of us who spend our days mulling over how our lives would be different with or without a child, Brat delivers “I think about it all the time,” a reverberating stream of consciousness that asks: What is my life worth if I don’t become a mom? In this track, Charli reflects on a visit to an old friend who is also a new mother, baffled by how she hardly seems different when everything in her life has suddenly changed. It’s a song that gets at what is shaping up to be a central question of womanhood in the twenty-first century, exploring the nuances of a choice that sometimes hardly feels like a choice at all.

If you can’t relate to the motherhood journal sesh, perhaps you’ll be more compelled by “Mean girls.” It’s an ode to every intimidating cool girl who has ever been unnecessarily labeled as cruel. It also includes one of the catchiest piano riffs I’ve ever heard. In this song, Charli questions whether being called a “mean” girl is really such a bad thing, asking if the ability to “break your boyfriend’s heart” or garner an obsessive following makes the figure of the mean girl less of a woman.

On Brat, Charli plays with cultural conceptions of what a “good” woman is supposed to be. She concludes that there is no way to please everyone, so you might as well tear shit apart. To have a Brat summer is to question the expectations that have been placed on women—particularly ambitious women—and throw your own existence in the face of those expectations.

5. Squash your beef in the most iconic way possible

Remember the days when female musicians used to drop diss tracks about each other instead of coming together to critique the system that pits them against one another in the first place? Yeah, me neither, because Charli XCX and Lorde performed a true cultural reset last Friday when they dropped “The girl, so confusing version with lorde.” After much speculation that the original “Girl, so confusing” track was about Lorde, the two artists came together on the remix to squash their beef in perhaps the most iconic co-songwriting moment of the year. In her verse, Lorde responds to Charli’s original questioning of their friendship with her own story of intrusive thoughts, disordered eating, and patriarchal pressure. It’s a collab that has my inner Tumblr girl in absolute shambles.

Pitchfork immediately named “The girl, so confusing version with lorde” Best New Track, and the song debuted at #47 on the global Spotify singles charts. If these rapidly climbing numbers and critical acclaim are any indication, diss tracks are out, and raw, honest dissection of the nuances of female competition and camaraderie are in. This summer, we’re working it out on the remix—that’s on Shine Theory. We all have that one girl in our personal or professional lives to whom we’re constantly comparing ourselves, when in reality, we should be considering how we can collaborate. Tell her how you’re feeling and see if you can reconcile. For lack of a better term, focus on maximizing your joint slay instead of tearing each other down.

6. Have fun, in spite of it all

This is where the white tank tops, skinny cigarettes, and all-night raves finally come in. The lyrical world of Brat is a deep dive into the complexities of being a driven female artist in the age of the “girl’s girl.” But the sonic world of Brat is a damn good party. If you haven’t seen videos of Charli on tour playing these tracks, picture the sweatiest, most intense dance party you can possibly imagine. That is how Charli XCX intends for us to experience Brat summer. We may cry at the club, but we’re still going to have fun. If the closing track of the album, “365,” is any indication, Brat summer is about making it to the dance floor (metaphorically or literally) every day of the year, no matter what it takes. We’ll see you there.

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