What Does the Top 10 Success of Charli XCX’s and Chappell Roan’s Albums Mean for Pop in 2024?

It’s a good week for pop fans on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Charli XCX and Chappell Roan, two of the most acclaimed pop artists of 2024, are both enjoying breakthrough moments on the listing, with their respective most recent albums Brat and The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess.


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In Charli’s case, Brat is the week’s biggest debut, bowing at No. 3 on the 200 — her first appearance in the chart’s top five — with 82,000 first-week units, according to Luminate. Roan, on the other hand, completes a 12-week climb to the top 10 this week, moving 12-9 with her 2023 debut on the strength of an increased profile on social media and streaming (and a recent breakout crossover hit in “Good Luck, Babe!,” which does not appear on the album).

Which of the two artists is having the bigger moment right now? And what, if anything, does it mean that they’re both doing so well at the same time? Billboard staffers discuss these questions and more below.

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1. This week, Charli XCX’s Brat debuts at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, while Chappell Roan’s The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess climbs to No. 10 — the former’s first top five album and the latter’s first top 10. Which of the two firsts do you think means more for their respective artists?

Rania Aniftos: That’s tough, because this is so huge for both of them. On one hand, Charli’s been in the game for years, and she’s been so respected in the music industry and beyond that it’s surprising it’s taken this long for her to get the mainstream recognition she deserves. For someone more up-and-coming like Chappell, who is also a queer artist in the space, a top 10 win feels like a particularly special glimpse into the future of pop. 

Hannah Dailey: I’d lean more toward Chappell, as she’s been waiting so, so long for this moment. She was dropped from her label in 2020 and still didn’t give up. It’s got to feel extra sweet to see your project reach such heights four years later.  

Stephen Daw: It’s a pretty close call, but I’m going with Chappell for this one. It is exceedingly rare in 2024 for an album to enter the top 10 of the chart for the first time nine months (!!) after its release, especially without the release of any special editions of the LP. Yet the word-of-mouth surrounding Roan has been working overtime, and her album has been slowly gaining momentum with each passing week. Charli’s top five debut is a big deal, no doubt; but Chappell’s rise feels like a game changer.  

Kyle Denis: While Charli is likely ecstatic to finally achieve this level of pop success on her own terms with her true sound, this moment means more for Chappell. A year ago, virtually nobody was talking about Chappell Roan, now she’s packing out festivals and seeing nine-month-old music surge up the charts. After getting dropped by Atlantic just three years ago, this is the kind of win that truly makes the journey feel worth it. 

Andrew Unterberger: I’ll swerve a little here and say Charli XCX. She had something of a love-hate relationship with mainstream success a decade ago, but she’s seemed increasingly frustrated about mostly being denied access to pop’s inner circle in the decade since. I can only imagine how validating it must feel for her to once again be at the center of everything in the past week and a half — especially because she did it with an album that basically sounds like the most Charli XCX album of her career, not one with any obvious areas of major compromise.

2. Crash first brought Charli to the top 10 two years ago, but Brat feels like a pretty significant step up for her even from that success. What do you think is the primary reason this album is such a mainstream breakthrough for her?

Rania Aniftos: Both the songs and the marketing surrounding the project are reminiscent of the early 2000s, which Gen-Z missed out on but really, really wants to experience. Charli feels like the Myspace star of modern times, and makes the next generation of music listeners feel like they’re logging into AIM in 2006 and setting their profile status to a lyric from Brat. It’s just so cool in every way, and the album dropped at the perfect time within Internet culture. 

Hannah Dailey: The album had such great branding – or lack thereof, really. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more memes about an album coming out than during Brat’s release week. Charli really knew what she was doing with the aggressively simple cover; it got people talking and forced everyone to associate anything lime green with her new music. 

Stephen Daw: The thing that Charli XCX’s fans have pointed out (in most cases, correctly) for years is that she is consistently ahead of her time. But Brat came at a moment when mainstream pop music is finally embracing more of the crunchy alt-pop sounds she’s been swimming in for the last decade, while Charli’s own cult of personality has grown to exponential proportions. It didn’t feel like she was chasing a trend, but rather that the trends had finally caught up to her — and it certainly helps that Brat is simply the best Charli’s music has ever sounded. 

Kyle Denis: The branding for Brat was may more effective than Crash’s. From the neon green album cover to the slightly burry typography, everyone wanted their own spin on the Brat artwork. Brat is also a more authentic representation of Charli’s sound; Crash found her satirizing mainstream pop and her place in it, while Brat finds her finally achieving peace with her position and purpose in the pop ecosystem. It also helps that other pop stars’ cheap facsimiles of her aesthetic are inadvertently reminding the masses of the singularity of Charli’s genius. 

Andrew Unterberger: Brat just kinda nailed it — with the promo, with the branding, with the videos, with everything and most importantly, with the music. I don’t know if I’d say it’s her strongest set of songs, but it’s both her most coherent and her most satisfying, and it’s certainly on its way to being her best-reviewed. It’s just a fun album to have in your (and everyone else’s) life: the memes about the album art, the way its many brain-sticking lyrics keep popping up, the sheer joy everyone seems to associate with it. It’s a really enjoyable pop moment.

3. Meanwhile, Chappell Roan’s momentum for Midwest Princess has been growing for months now. What do you think was the biggest factor in finally putting her over the top as a crossover pop star?

Rania Aniftos: Her live shows. Her songs have always been top tier, but seeing just how creative she is when it comes to stage presence, style and makeup all while delivering show-stopping vocals, I think that made people truly realize that she’s a pop force to be reckoned with. 

Hannah Dailey: I think her run of concerts and festival shows this year is what really made people start paying attention. There’s something baked into Midwest Princess that makes it an entirely different experience when heard live, from the stunning drag looks she wears onstage to the audience involvement throughout (the “HOT TO GO!” choreography, collectively screaming the spoken moments in songs like “Femininomenon,” etc.). I bet her recent performances are what made the album finally click for a lot of people.  

Stephen Daw: Roan was already a fast-rising star before 2024 started — Midwest Princess ranked high on multiple year-end album lists in 2023, and her fan base was rapidly expanding. But I think two things happened at exactly the right time for the singer: She put out one of the best songs of her career (“Good Luck, Babe!”), and then embarked on a near-constant tour schedule throughout the spring and summer of 2024, both as a headliner and an opener. Combining those two things gave fans a new track to rally around while also introducing her to a sea of new devotees, whether they were at Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts Tour or at one of the many festivals she played this summer. Along with all of the buzz she’d already generated since 2020, and it felt inevitable that Roan would become the name on everyone’s lips this year.

Kyle Denis: Definitely her opening slot on Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts World Tour. Chappell’s music translates incredibly well in live settings and her aesthetic truly crystallizes during her campy live performances. Getting to properly showcase the breadth of her artistic vision in sold-out arenas leading right into festival season was the perfect momentum catalyst for her crossover moment. The music, performance ability and style were always there, she just needed a platform. 

Andrew Unterberger: I’ll second that it’s the coinciding of her most high-profile live gigs with her most accessible and undeniable pop single to date. Her supporting run alongside Olivia Rodrigo and her early-spring festival gigs opened the door for her, and “Good Luck, Babe!” pulled her through it. Now it seems like she’s gonna be here for a good long while.

4. Between the recent success for Chappell, Charli, and even Tinashe (with “Nasty” climbing the Hot 100), it seems like it’s been an unusually successful month or so for critically acclaimed artists with devoted pop fanbases whose chart performance hasn’t always matched their artistic reputations. Do you think it’s meaningful of anything for them to all be flourishing like this at once, or is it just a fluke of timing?

Rania Aniftos: I hope it’s meaningful. The charts for the past few years have generally been a cycle of the same superstars at the summit. While people like Taylor Swift, Drake and Ariana Grande are icons for a reason, it’s nice when people realize there’s more out there in the pop world. I have a feeling people like Charli, Tinashe, Chappell, Reneé Rapp and even Sabrina Carpenter will make people more open to the vast pop landscape that exists.

Hannah Dailey: As the question says, these artists have long had devoted fanbases already. But when it comes to the general public now tuning in for the first time, I think people have been craving something different for a while. Chappell, Charli and Tinashe are each their own singular brand of pop star and have given people something fresh to latch onto. I also think people are starting to outgrow the folksy singer-songwritery vibe that’s been popular the past couple of years, and are ready to embrace dance/pop music again. 

Stephen Daw: I don’t think it’s a fluke — even Sabrina Carpenter, inarguably the breakout superstar of 2024, has been making music for nearly a decade and is just now finding massive mainstream success. In a music industry ecosystem where it’s become harder for new pop singers to break big, it feels like a natural next step for listeners to look back at established performers with intact fan bases and say, “Wait … what about them?”  

Kyle Denis: I think what we’re seeing right now is a direct result of how social media and streaming algorithms have fractured our pre-existing monoculture into infinite silos. We’re no longer in the era of big tentpole pop stars sucking all the air out of the room or top 40 radio dictating who can and cannot be a star. The recent successes of Chappell, Charli and Tinashe speak to the power of building up and nurturing a core cult fanbase while continuing to hone your sound and aesthetic regardless of what the dominant mainstream sound may be. Eventually, the pendulum will swing in your direction, you just need to be prepared when it does.   

Andrew Unterberger: It does feel like there’s a renewed appetite for that sort of dead-center pop we enjoyed at the turn of the 2010s — when Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Britney Spears and the artist then known as Ke$ha ruled the world — but with more of an auteurist bent to it. It’s a good time for the forward-thinking, heavily individualistic pop artists who perhaps should have flourished more than they did in the intervening years to finally get their propers.

5. Who among the Should-Be-Bigger pop set would you like to see being up next for a moment like this?

Rania Aniftos: Troye Sivan! With songs like “Rush” and “Got Me Started”? It’s a no brainer. 

Hannah Dailey: Gracie Abrams! She’s already closing in on the mark, she just needs one last push that could very well come from her new album Secret of Us and Taylor Swift’s seal of approval. 

Stephen Daw: Rina Sawayama has consistently put out fascinating, boundary-pushing pop music for the last few years — if anybody deserves a chart-based breakthrough, it’s her. 

Kyle Denis: Yes, she had a movie hit No. 1 at the box office this year, but I’m beyond ready for Reneé Rapp to have a true breakout hit single in the near future. 

Andrew Unterberger: Would love nothing more than to see U.K. artist Rachel Chinouriri’s brilliant A Devastating Turn of Events album follow Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess‘ slow-but-steady climb up the 200.