Track Review: In The City // Charli XCX and Sam Smith

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Charli XCX and  Sam Smith join forces in a new pop-dance club banger. 

Set to a beat that blends campy girly pop and club techno, Charli XCX’s echoey vocals capture the essence of a party girl anthem. “All the lights are diamonds in the sky”, the two artists sing, conjuring images of nights spent dancing with friends, speeding through a highway in the dark. It’s the artist’s latest addition to a growing catalogue of songs about “fast cars and late nights”. 

‘In The City’ describes a flurry of hedonism, against a backdrop of piano chords and reverb that transport the listener to a club in the 2010’s. An undeniably fun song, with a beat drop that’s perfect for the remixes that it will surely bring to life, it speaks to both the energy and community one can find in a party: “The song is about the magnificence of being welcomed into queer spaces”. 

Sam Smith’s part of the song adds a gentler tone, with serene melodies contrasting Charli’s auto-tuned vocals. However, the song would have benefited from another verse where the two singers’ voices could really shine together, especially for a collaboration between two of the most iconic voices in pop. 

The track will likely be a hit, but overall, it leaves one wanting more from an artist like Charli XCX, who has a record of putting out experimental and innovative music that has shaped pop as a whole. The single, when compared to her previous work, can feel like a variation of a formula Charli has long since perfected, and Sam Smith’s part, although significant, doesn’t do much to challenge this. 

But does it matter much when the song is such a great time? 

Though not as revolutionary as the single fans were expecting, ‘In The City’ perfectly captures the disco-pop, party girl energy that energizes Charli’s work, with a gentle touch from Smith’s vocals. 

Words by Catarina Vicente


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