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Single Review: “New Shapes” by Charli XCX is the Perfect Song for Looking Hot and Unbothered

Single cover for Charli XCX's "New Shapes."
Single cover for Charli XCX's "New Shapes." By Courtesy of Charli XCX / Asylum Records / Sony Music Publishing
By Katia O. Soares dos Santos, Crimson Staff Writer

Released on Nov. 4, 2021, Charli XCX’s latest single “New Shapes” featuring Christine and The Queens is a bold and empowering exploration of female friendships.

“New Shapes” emulates the emotional support of a group of friendly girls who attempt to cheer you up after catching you crying in the bathroom at a party. “You’re too good for him anyway,” they would say as they wipe away your smudged mascara and help you apply fresh lipstick. The explosive exclamation, “What you want / I ain’t got it” suggests confidence and self-assurance.

However, as the lyrics continue, a more complicated narrative unravels. “New Shapes” tells the story of a stagnant relationship in which both sides are manipulative. The song’s narrator is tired of their relationship and fighting the urge to desert it: “I don't know why I got a tendency to run away.” However, their partner continues this cycle of mistreatment, perhaps emotionally manipulating the narrator to the point that they are a different person: “You call it art, but you pulled on my heart / And you twisted it into a new shape.” Ultimately, these emotional issues in their relationship fade away at night when the pair succumb to their undeniable sexual attraction towards one another. “I surrender to it all night, all day / Then wе fall in love in new shapes.”

Nevertheless, the upbeat and very danceable production makes it easy to overlook the complications in this relationship. Despite being one of the most prominent artists in the emerging hyperpop genre, Charli XCX takes a more traditional path in “New Shapes.” The heavy use of synth and mechanical drums drops “New Shapes” right into the 1980s, creating a glamorous and electrifying experience. Because of its strong and consistent tempo throughout, the track is full of movement. It practically begs the listener to dance along with it. Maybe “New Shapes” is not one of the most experimental pieces in Charli’s discography, and maybe it is not introducing anything new, but it's certainly a fun time. “New Shapes” would have no difficulty fitting right into a John Hughes-style makeover montage.

Human relationships are complicated and messy. More often than not, both sides are to blame for an issue. “New Shapes” tells the listener not to fixate on the problems. Rather, Charli wants the listener to pick themselves up, move on, and find confidence within.

—Staff writer Katia O. Soares dos Santos can be reached at katia.soaresdossantos@thecrimson.com.

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