As GQ reports, yesterday, at superstar house producer Richie Hawtin’s house in Ibiza, Grimes played a special DJ set for Boiler Room, one that was broadcast live online. Boiler Room DJ sets are usually a place where musicians can display cooler-than-thou taste in minimal bass music or whatever, but Grimes went the other direction, loading up her set with sugary pop music: Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, the Ramones, Skrillex, Daddy Yankee, the Venga Boys’ “We’re Going To Ibiza,” Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” You’re never going to believe this, but people got real grumpy about these decisions on Twitter, claiming that Grimes was trolling. Not so, says Grimes.

In a series of tweets after the Boiler Room set, Grimes wrote, “oh god, i wasn’t trolling boiler room. i don’t think there is a dj rule book. i will leave it at this: nothing about anything i do is ironic.” (She’s since deleted the first tweet, the one about trolling.)

And here’s the thing: Grimes is completely right. If you’ve been paying the slightest bit of attention to the things Grimes has said on Twitter or in interviews, none of her choices in that DJ set should be the slightest bit surprising. She’s always claimed Mariah Carey as a titanic influence, and she’s never been shy about proclaiming her love of bright, fun, well-crafted pop music, Taylor Swift in particular. And if I was out dancing and someone played a bunch of random, fun pop songs, I can’t imagine being upset about that. Speaking personally here, there’s a different mentality at work that I don’t understand: The one where you watch a live-streamed DJ set online and then snort dismissively on Twitter at the DJ’s choices. If it bothers you that much, why not just click the tab closed and then go outside or something?

Last month, Grimes’ boyfriend James Brooks released the Stop Pretending EP. And even after the whole flap over “On Fraternity,” the lyric that sticks with me the most is from the title track: “Something you’re dismissive of is the reason I wake up.” So maybe consider that for a minute before shit-talking in the comments section.

Comments (93)
  1. The problem is Grimes is being disingenuous when she insists she was DJ’ing in good faith. “All I Want for Christmas is You” and Taylor Swift at Boiler Room? And she’s surprised when people react negatively? Please. At least own up to your trolling. Weak. Lost respect for her.

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      • To answer your question: No, I don’t think she played any songs by erstwhile Dr. Dre protege Truth Hurts.

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        • I think our opinions aren’t valued here. The Grimes fanclub has spoken. No dissent allowed.

        • Ouch CarCrash. Leave the girl alone :(

        • Garth, one of the best house DJs, ya know, like, EVER! used to drop Mariah Carey jams in the middle of his sets at deep, dark, underground parties. It’s just music, and it’s subjective. We all like different things. I get that you may not understand that, because it’s a difficult concept for A LOT of people to grasp. “You like that!? What is wrong with you? I hate that.” What I don’t get is you and oddist having a masturbatory comment party in the exact vein the Tom just expressed disgust and disdain for. Clearly you missed the point of him taking the time to write and post this piece.

    • First off, admitting that you are trolling defeats the entire purpose of trolling. You imply that you might respect her for trolling, but disrespect her for not admitting it. But by denying that she was trolling, she is simply continuing to troll. Thus, you should respect her for sticking to her guns.

      But you don’t, because you have been trolled.

      It’s also worth noting that there are two kinds of potential trolling here: 1, playing bad songs just to get a reaction; and 2, playing songs she likes that are nonstandard for the environment and are thus likely to garner a reaction. It’s Trolling v. 1 that she denied doing, and she was probably being honest in that denial because she seems to genuinely enjoy the songs she played. But she is probably guilty of Trolling v. 2, because she must have known that Boiler Room is typically a more-obscure-than-thou contest and therefore could probably have foreseen that playing T. Swift would get a negative reaction. But she played it anyway because who cares, get over yourselves, this is a stupid thing to be talking about.

      • Fabulous points, Rex.

        Any insight, Corky?

        • Hi KiCHAIR. Corky doesn’t post anymore :( But on his behalf, he released a statement:
          “The nefarious art of trolling is best left to the unemployed, 40 year old somethings playing Warcraft with Cheetos stained fingertips with Domino’s cheesy bread crumbs caught in their ungroomed beards, not some delightfully out of touch with reality lovable pixie. Grimes, Claire dear, leave trolling to the pros. If you played Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” front to back and back to front (in mono), you would have upped your game girl”.

          Nicely played Corkster. But, the man is retired KidCHAIR. Cheers!

          • And so it is.

          • In all seriousness, Stereogum were nice enough to unban me, so I’m not going to pull any puerile trolling anymore. It started to get beyond my control to the point that I became that which I hated ( said in Darth Vader voice, punctuated by deep electronically treated breathing gasps). But seriously, I don’t troll anymore. When Facebook log ins work, I’ll just come back as me. I know you want to know my identity ( begins to remove darth vader mask……)

          • Oh how I would love to see the mangled true self of the former villian!

      • Yes, I get it…she trolled everyone. *golf claps* I’m sure she’s snickering to herself and enjoying all the attention. And I’m sure she’s delighted to have legions of apologists coming to her defense. It’s only music, right? I mean, why have standards?

    • Anyone who has ever seen Grimes DJ before knows that this is what she does. When she played after Majical Cloudz at Glasslands whatever a month or two ago this is exactly what it was like.

  2. Surely you’re not suggesting that people just let things go, not on the internet.

  3. If I were to book Grimes to do a DJ set, I think I’d be pissed if she didn’t play some T. Swift.

    Public commentary on the Internet is at its worst when the focus is on deriding. To answer the question, though, people can’t just close the tab and go outside because they’ve forgotten it.

  4. As Tom suggested, this is a big bucket of who gives a shit. Although if you have listened to Grimes’ know phase or, well, her music itself — she is obviously into a bunch of genres beyond sugary, mainstream pop. A benefit of being a successful musician is having the power to publicly advocate for other artists – and it’s a little weird to use your platform in service of Mariah Carey and Taylor Swift, who really don’t need any more help. But again, who cares.

  5. Wait, there are people who have a problem with “All I want for christmas is you?”

  6. I wonder if everyone would be jumping to Thom Yorke’s defense if he played Coldplay, Oasis, and Muse in his Boiler Room set?

  7. In Grimes defense, I saw her do a live DJ set in Seoul before her set ended due to technical reasons and the two songs she played her “All I want for Christmas is You” by Mariah, and “Barbie Girl” by Aqua. That is Grimes, it is what she does, and why I (and we?) like her.

    • Aqua’s Aquarium was one of my favorite albums in high school. Many of the songs — “Dr. Jones” in particular — would have probably been non-issue listens in today’s day in age of Icona Pop and Robyn.

      • I was reading Aqua’s Wikipedia page one day –– because that’s the kind of thing I do –– and it surprised me to learn that there was crazy drama in that band. I think the girl and the bald guy were a couple but then she and the spiky haired guy had an affair. Anyway it was crazy, some real Fleetwood Mac shit. They were not “Happy Boys and Happy Girls” after all.

  8. You forgot to add that she dropped Bubble Pop by Hyuna and a Kyary remix. Any time where you can mention k-pop or j-pop of sorts on stereogum is a good one.

  9. “Ironically” enjoying music was a big topic for me a few weeks ago at Pitchfork fest a few weeks ago. I was really excited to see R Kelly headline. I hadn’t really listened to him in a while but I had a copy of TP-2 when I was in high school and the Ingnition remix was THE jam my freshman year of college. Anyways, I had a fucking blast during his set. I laughed a ton, some of the things he says are utterly rediculous, but he is a super talented dude and I left thinking he put on a great show.

    A day or so later Jim DeRogotis(who has hard feelings toward Kells from covering his rape trial) put out an article ripping the performance and saying anyone was was enjoying themselves was doing so “ironically” I get that when it comes to some cheesey 80s music that gets played at some bars or maybe weddings, but why does any pop/rap/hip hop have to be enjoyed ironically? Why can’t I just take it for what it is and have a good time? I listen to a lot of rap music by myself/in my car/while I’m doing dishes, and I do find myself laughing at lines from time to time, but that doesn’t mean I’m spending hours on end listening to it as a goof.

    IDK, I’m not totally sure what my point is… I guess I just don’t see why I or anyone else can’t recognize that some music is light or maybe a little silly but at the same time legitimately enjoy it and respect the artist without being “ironic”

    • There’s nothing I agree more on with Grimes’ than the transparency of pop music and its “must-have” association with irony. If I’m gonna listen to R. Kelly or Taylor Swift in my car, it’s gonna be enjoyed with other people in it or myself alone. Remember when R. Kelly used to sing the shit out of I Believe I Can Fly in his heydays?

      I feel like anybody that’s trying to be cool past high school is obnoxious to me. They’re either gonna be strutting around with image-laden brooms up their asses, enjoying things ironically or trying to tell me what “real music is”.

      Fuck irony, I guess.

      • Whoops, wasn’t meant as a reply.

      • More importantly, fuck trying to tell me what “real music is”. People are allowed to have bad taste in every aspect of their lives, including the music they choose to listen to. In general, we all just need to do a better job of minding our own damn business.

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  11. Eh, Grimes just did this because she’s mad that music nerds don’t appreciate Mariah Carey and Taylor Swift enough. I’m sure that she has encountered people who were (wrongly) dismissive of artists she likes in the past, but I think most people who watch the boiler room are just more interested in hearing new and/or underground shit not as a dick measuring contest but because that’s what they’re genuinely into, and she should respect that at least to some extent. I like Mariah Carey but I’d be disappointed if I had tuned in as well because it’s the god damn Boiler Room and i wanna hear things that I can’t necessarily hear everywhere else

    • I think that’s a good point. The music played isn’t as inappropriate as the setting in which it was played. I don’t mind some radio pop at all, but if I tune into the Boiler Room, it’s not because I wanna hear that. I can just turn the radio on. That’s why people are mad.

      On that note, I think its hilarious she did it. I get why people are mad, but it makes me laugh that she had the ballz to do it.

  12. Can I just mention how much I love that photo of Grimes? I look at that and think… “Hahaha she trolled Boiler Room.” Grimes is pretty badass.

  13. Now if she was playing Damn Yankees as opposed to Daddy Yankee, then I’d think she’s trolling.

  14. I hope this launches a revolution in unhip DJing so I can finally give the world my mix of Badfinger, Ja Rule, Ace of Base, and excerpts from the audiobooks for Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series.

  15. Are we all ignoring the fact that grimes tweeted “Pissing off all Djs by playing t swift on boiler room tune in!” ???

  16. At least the folks at Boiler Room have indicated that they aren’t impressed with this tweet today:
    “Easier to be noticed by doing something controversial than it is by doing something well.”
    And I couldn’t agree more.

  17. pardon me, but why is this a big deal?

    • In defense of Grimes, her artistry takes the best out of the Pop circuit and fleshes it out into her own re-purposed signature style. Grimes can do whatever Grimes wants to do. That has been today’s ”In defense of”.

  18. You don’t get booked to play a country & western bar and play Burial test pressings. You don’t open for Skrillex and play Carl Craig deep cuts. First rule of DJing is to know your crowd.

    (Well, OK, the first rule is probably “don’t make the records sound like tennis shoes in the dryer,” but you get my point.)

  19. What’s Boiler Room?

  20. Artists need to up their reaction game and be more like this:

  21. Who exactly was that thought having Grimes on Boiler Room was going to mean that she would spend weeks crate digging to find ultra rare records then scour the internet for the newest in new remixes to play? If you want that, get an actual DJ to play.

    Like what’s been noted, she talks about ultra mainstream pop music all the time. If people want to get bent out of shape about her playing, blame Boiler Room and Richie Hawtin for having her on. I’m sure within a one mile radius of the spot in Ibiza there were about 20 big name DJs just sitting around… like a DJ bullpen of sorts.

  22. This will be an important and relevant issue for years to come.

  23. Grimes may not do things ironically, but the only people I know in real life who like Grimes are people who do EVERYTHING ironically.

  24. Mariah and Miguel’s little ditty was one of the best pop songs I’ve heard in years. It’s a shame it went practically unnoticed by everyone but music nerds. Mariah’s been putting out jams consistently for 20+ years and she actually contributes to the songwriting process. I get her love for Mariah. It’s merited. Taylor Swift, on the other hand…I don’t get it. Regardless, I’d be stoked to hear whatever she played me.

  25. Woman who constantly praises Mariah gets called a troll for playing Mariah.

  26. “And if I was out dancing and someone played a bunch of random, fun pop songs, I can’t imagine being upset about that. Speaking personally here, there’s a different mentality at work that I don’t understand: The one where you watch a live-streamed DJ set online and then snort dismissively on Twitter at the DJ’s choices. If it bothers you that much, why not just click the tab closed and then go outside or something?”

    Obviously the author’s first time in a boiler room chat

  27. Any one else getting the idea that her next album will be a little less ethereal/dreamy and a little more straightforward/poppy? Either way, I love Grimes. She is a very bold and principled person.

  28. Grimes is the soil for stupid hipsters to seed

  29. fuck, boiler room. “Oi it’s boiler room. Oi” – boiler room hype guy.

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