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  • Grimes
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[Welcome to a new feature on Stereogum! Consider it an op-ed: In this space, we'll issue spot, and we'll argue. And so it'll be like every other post, just more specifically engineered to engage you in the sort of commentary and criticism we're seeing in the comment section these days. Every Tuesday we'll turn to Julianne Escobedo Shepherd to frame an issue, and most decidedly to take a side. Julianne is the culture editor for AlterNet, who has served as the Executive Editor of FADER and has contributed to SPIN, Billboard, VIBE, New York Times, Interview, Pitchfork, and MTV Hive. She also blogs and Tumbls, just like you. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Stereogum. But the views herein are worthy of dialogue and discourse and inspection, and to that end, we present you with DECONSTRUCTED. Today, Julianne offers her thoughts on the gender aesthetic of Grimes.]

Grimes is stuck inside a mobius strip, but it’s not totally her fault. The latest musician to patch niche signifiers and visuals into her retro-reaching computer music, the pared-down project from Montreal-based singer/producer Clare Boucher was bound to be blog catnip from the jump. Rife with pastiche and a requisite analog vibe, her album’s as Tumblrfied as Jeremy Scott’s A/W 2012 line — and as we all know, the internet loves to chew its own tail. While no one loves the pastiche-iness of the web more than I do — the freedom to access an infinite spectrum of ideas is liberating, and broadens everyone’s potential for invention and reinvention — the gestural narrative behind Boucher’s project and the actual sound of the music does not compute. She’s a product of her own environment — all of our environments — but is coming at it like a self-contained meta-link on a web forum designed to look like 1998.

Cannily, the fourth first track on Visions, Grimes’ latest album, is entitled “Infinite Love Without Fulfillment,” and it’s also the shortest. It’s built on loops of her impossibly lithe voice, which sounds like the glittering wings of a pink-and-purple My Pretty Pony pegasus gliding above Blingee clouds, over a fairly rudimentary beat and a bit of arpeggiating synths. Like most of her album, that song bridges the distance between cat-loving J-Pop star Takako Minekawa, Final Fantasy X, and Wikipedia mysticism. It’s not totally the fact that I don’t like the music — people like music I dislike all the time, and vice versa — but it’s what people purport to love about Grimes that’s irksome. On one hand, it’s great that she’s this new hot blog thing, because she is a woman who creates her own beats in a space that historically is not that friendly to non-males. On the other hand, her elevation been a case study in the values people consign to the music they love — in this case, thin representations of ideas, that people have praised her for her “naive” and “elf-like” qualities, as though by filtering her voice into wispiness to the point that she’s almost a specter (as she does), she becomes more admirable, a negation of herself. It’s not just that I feel the music is basically thin and charmless — there are sweet spots, as in the melody of single “Genesis,” or the rickety bass hits on “Be a Body” — but because it is also so infantilized. Grimes has a host of recent-vintage contemporaries who approach their music with a similar concept, like Lykke Li and Fever Ray and Bat For Lashes and even fellow blog star Charli XCX, all of whom do similarly conceptualized music but tap into their womanhood and sexuality as a source of power, some might say THE DARK ARTS OF WOMANNESS. Her thoughts on Mariah Carey, as illuminated in this Pitchfork interview, are telling; she says Carey’s voice is “not even a human voice; it sounds almost mechanical,” and that it is the voice of “someone who has never done evil.” The strange binary of robot vs. person, of good vs. evil — particularly when talking about the oeuvre of a master and mega-complicated pop icon like Carey — gives the impression that Grimes aspires to some kind of unattainable purity that doesn’t register on an emotional level. That flat worldview translates to her sound, whose many layers are compressed into solitude. Grimes seems bent on negating her humanness and operating from robot zone, herself. Yet others who’ve embarked on such pursuits — Bjork, for example — have recognized the paradoxical intertwining between nature’s ether and that of the web. Grimes’ music feels like it’s operating in a vacuum, and while internet-referencing internet music is zeitgeistical, eventually the vacuum’s gonna run out of air.

Of course, Grimes’ cyborg unicorn stance is an updated ideal on the continuum of the asexuality that a certain strain of indie rock values, up to and including twee. Ultimately, though, Grimes’ blog prominence is more rooted in a quest for meaning: We understand that our fractured existences are increasingly moving from the corporeal to the computer-ether, but as we’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to step back and see how we’ll be impacted. That Boucher seems perfectly manufactured from this cyber ether is certainly exciting on paper, but just like the constant feed that filters through on your dashboard, tomorrow there will be another song to reblog. In other words: We don’t believe you. You need more people. Dot gif.

Comments (146)
  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one that thought of Final Fantasy X when I listened to this record.

  2. Her music is fun to dance to. Get over yourself.

  3. All of these things that are stated above are reasons why I have been hesitant to pay much attention to the Grimes phenomena. Glad to read someone explain to me why I’ve had this reaction, in much better words.

    Also, thank you for giving us Julianne’s shorthanded resume. I’m still not convinced this T. Cole Rachel character who pops up every now and then with Progress Reports actually exists.

  4. Enjoyed that article. And i agree with you. And i think she’s sound horrible live. elf like? yeah more like chipmunks on speed.

  5. great new column, will def come back for it weekly :)

  6. Beautifully stated and well defined ideas here. A pleasure to read, I look forward to the next one.

  7. well, that’s a lot to think about and digest. But I think my first reaction is this: The fact that you do not like Grimes says more about you than it does her and what she does. It’s a good write-up of what your perceptions are, and why you may not prefer grimes and her approach. But I think overall it shows what you value in music, what your approach to appreciating music is. For example, I think if you use music as means of escapism, than Grime’s relationship to the information age, gender roles in indie music bluh bluh blluh etc. are totally irrelevant. It just matters if you like what you hear, it’s up to you i guess whether you explore the reasons behind that or not.
    Maybe I’m just stating the obvious, but I get the feeling from your article that Grime’s should be doing something differently, or that her approach is somehow flawed or invalid, and that I disagree with.

    • YES!
      First off, I have the album. It’s ambient and weird and interesting. But no, I’m not head over heels about it, and I’m not recommending it to friends. It exists.
      But I agree that this write up shows more of the writer than of the subject. She makes some good points (operating in a vaccum), but ultimately if you listen to it and like it, that’s all that matters.

    • I also want to emphasize that while I have some issues with author’s ideas, I don’t have any real qualms with the column itself, and am, in fact, looking forward to future installments.

  8. The bindings on your thesaurus must be deconstructing. Write like a human being and people might understand what you’re trying to say.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Whoa, ha ha, easy fellas. Which words were confusing? Are we really making a case to dumb things down to be easier understood (especially when this article is not really that wordy)? Don’t make me use my professor farnsworth image.

      • The linguistic complexity is superfluous and makes the article difficult to follow, as do awkward juxtapositions like “cyborg unicorn”.

        • Cyborg Unicorn is an admittedly silly description – I assume it means that Grimes’ aesthetic is in some way both robotic and extinct? -Or Robotic and Pixie-like? (in which case, yeah, just say ‘Pixie.’) But I never found it hard to follow. I just don’t find her point very convincing.

          • Can you tell me what this means: “Yet others who’ve embarked on such pursuits — Bjork, for example — have recognized the paradoxical intertwining between nature’s ether and that of the web.”

          • The internet is theoretically separate from nature as it exists digitally, but at the same time it is, like everything else, made up of molecules, and as such, is a part of nature. It’s all connected. And other artists have been able to bridge this gap, musically, by way of employing digital sounds that maintain human qualities. For example Bjork.

            I don’t at all agree to this point, not to mention I don’t know how on earth you could quantify it in any way. But at the same time, this is what the author hears. it’s subjective. I disagree, but I understand what she’s trying to say.


  9. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • WTF is someone SUPPOSED to write, according to you? How would you fill 1000 words with simply ‘this album sucks’. You don’t think someone wants to know why it sucks? Have you never read an article before? FIlled with support material for your argument, personal stories that help readers relate to your point. God, why do comments have to write such mindless fucking nonsense? I mean, seriously? Are you complaining about how descriptive she is, or maybe the comparisons she made were over your head?

      Oh and that stupid point about pictures and no audio: why, you don’t know how to use the thousands upon thousands of tools like YouTube and Spotify to find out for yourself what she sounds like?

      Also, cut off your dick, because it isn’t likely Claire, Julianne, or any self-respecting woman would fuck you anyway…even if you did think she was ‘bangable’

      • *Commenters

      • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

        • As this article is called “Deconstructing: Grimes” I don’t see why you would expect only a short sentence about the music, I mean how could it be anything less than a critical essay about who she is and what she does?

          As for not posting any examples of the music in question I must admit I was a little saddened by this as well but then I remembered I was connected to the internet and that youtube existed so I was all set.

    • This got an upvote?

  10. haha, this is a really funny article. you sound really smart (“I use big words”), but you’re arguments are really weak. the intro says you’re going to take on the “gender aesthetic” of Grimes, but you barely address that. and so what? you’re annoyed by her asexuality? you wish she used her “womanhood and sexuality as a source of power” (which frankly Fever Ray does not do and would probably take offense by the suggestion)? that’s fucking sexist. and maybe avoiding explicit sexuality ties into the fact that she wants to “operate from a robot zone” as you say…

    As for hating on her robot qualities/ “negated humaness” (which is an aesthetic that Fever Ray DOES employ btw), at least it’s a deliberate and conscious decision. she obviously has a clear idea of what she wants to do and if you don’t appreciate her artistic intentions that’s fine, but don’t hate the fact that people resonate with it. Not everyone has the same reasons for enjoying her music, so don’t assume it’s because they think she’s “elf-like” (which IS an annoying thing to praise, and an image Bjork has had to combat previously; and yet you seem OK with her).

    THE END.

    btw, the track you mention as “the fourth track” is actually the first. so. way to go, way to make your readers take your criticism seriuosly!

  11. This is a really poorly written article for so many reasons, but here’s some things that jumped straight out on the first read:

    1. Infinite Love Without is the first track of the album – not the fourth.
    2. Vacuums cannot “run out of air”. A vacuum is the absence of air.

    You over analyzed some catchy tunes, so forgive me for over analyzing your article!

  12. ddogdunit  |   Posted on Feb 28th, 2012 +3

    going to jump on the h8 train – this article is trash!

    also —> “One one hand” – LEARN TO PROOFREAD!!! if i’m going to read this blog and stare at ads on top and to the left and basically all over the words, i’m assuming some of you (unbelievably so) are GETTING PAID to sit in yr room and “write” about music – the least you can do is COPYEDIT something you get sent once or twice! what a joke.

  13. Thank god someone agrees with me. Her music always sounded pretentious and just plain awful.

  14. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  15. her music has the same qualities of ambient music, her vocals arent neccessarily meant to convey languages, they are instruments in themselves. experiencing an artist like grimes is a wholly subjective experience, the only way to really judge the music, is by the execution of the songs.

  16. Reading the comments above are proving a bit painful as a debut for Julianne, but I think it speaks more about the culture of criticizing opinions more so than the opinion itself. Yesterday, I had the honors of being downvoted into oblivion for saying I disliked Regina Spektor, so I empathize with her here in that she’s at least expressing her reasoning behind why BIG WORDS and all. Those saying the post speaks more about her than it does Grimes are correct, but then again, that’s the point of this article. It expresses the views of Julianne alone and not Stereogum.

    What I don’t understand about bandwagon downvoters is that not everyone is going to like what you like. In the same way you upvote a comment for being on the same page as you, at least respect the fact that Julianne pieced together some very valid points as to why Grimes isn’t working out for her, and didn’t just say something innocuous like “Grimes sucks, she’s so overhyped omg so sick of her! Her and her dumb Tom Sawyer boat story!” like typical comment section fodder tends to go. It’s one thing to lash out against comments such as that. It’s another to tear down someone simply because you disagree with their articulated opinion.

    • To be fair, your comment on Regina Spektor was not only disapproving, but very dismissive. To say she isn’t worth the time, and that there is no need for her take on the genre is a little disingenuous, no?
      also I think we sometimes forget that up/downvoting is often a quick way to simply agree or disagree with the comment, not necessarily the disapproval of having an opinion.

      • I wrote two long, overwrought comments afterward explaining thoroughly why I feel like an artist like Regina Spektor is an afterthought in today’s modern music spectrum (in particular, female songwriters) since my initial comment appeared to warrant further explanation. I’m very much looking forward to taking top honors for the week’s Worst Comment because I at least explained my point of view, which I stand by and can’t take personal. To me, knowing that so many people disagree with my opinion (yet failed to even as much offer a convincing counter-point to my argument) means just as much as being applauded for saying something that tons of people agree with. I’d respect mass downvoting if they bothered to actually defend their reasoning behind them.

  17. Usually a fan of JES’s writing but I think in this case she’s taking her notes too much from what she perceives the Grimes fandom is saying, and what the music (and Claire) is actually saying. To align Grimes with the worst parts of Tumblr and cheap nostalgia is really unfair. Grimes says she has continually had to turn down sexy photoshoots, refers to herself as looking like “a fucking baby” and has a more authentic love of 90s rap and R&B than any of the article’s female comparisons.

  18. A lot of blogs are talking about this artist I don’t quite get.
    I must find a reason to dislike her. The more convoluted the better.

  19. “A new feature? Why wasn’t I consulted?”

    - Stereogum readers next week

  20. Also, to comment upon the content of the article:

    Julianne, I really think you’ve hit upon an interesting point about Grimes wanting to be “in a vacuum” and “asexual”. Some (but, a lot of) indie musicians and fans are deeply embarassed by / acutely aware of two things (it seems), authenticity and sexuality. A good point of comparison here would be the recently calmed hypestorm around LDR. The two main points of contention seemed to be firstly whether or not she was “authentic” and secondly to be in some way related to male or female sexual insecurity, especially when LDR was so blatantly using her femininity to sell records (or, bluntly, using sex to sell records and get famous – though it must be said, a very stylised and perhaps itself “inauthentic” portrayal of sex). Grimes sidesteps both of these concerns, offering a persona that is so obviously and wilfully a construct that questions of authenticity are pointless, and offering a de-sexualised (“i look like a baby” etc.) view of herself as a naive individual who just wants to sing abstract songs that are probably about heartbreak, but not really about sex. It’s the same “purity” that she’s gesturing towards in her admiration of Mariah Carey’s “robotic” voice. And I agree with you, for the most part — it’s can come across as a little cold. But, there’s also something kind of optimistic about it. It’s like a kind of pure joyousness that wants to come free of the usual gender constraints that we continually apply to our female artists. And we all do it. Even Tom Breihan can hardly write a Stereogum article about a female musician without saying what a babe she is. So it seems to me that Grimes is just trying to get away from some of the indie scene’s hangups surrounding female artists – be unconventional looking, asexual, gesture towards a fantasy world, and in the process allow her music some space from the typical comment baggage.

    Also, Sterebros: how about getting the author to lurk in the comments section and respond to us laymen?

    • I did that once!

    • If an author truly stands by his review / op-ed piece, there’s no need to respond to the discussion going on below. The above is Julianne’s final word opinion and I would like to believe that as a professional. she has no hang ups about inciting a bit of vitriol nor does she need to respond to the arguments against her piece. That’s the beauty of being a published music critic.

      • Yes… but people are allowed to change their opinions, and it would at least be interesting for the writer to expand upon some of the points that readers pull out.

      • Yeah…let’s give her (we know an author is a male only a posteriori) finite room to make her point but give the masses infinite room to disagree with it…I understand that what you are getting at is simply the established convention of journalism, but I don’t see any reason why Ms. Shepherd should not get to defend her writing (should she want to).

      • i agree that it’d be interesting, but you’ve got take into account that the comments section is no stranger to assholes who always want to take things too far. stereogum is better in that way than lots of other blogs i go to, but universally, give *some* people the anonymity of a keyboard and they become ten times the irrational, raging dick that they are in real life. and you can’t reason with those types; they’re never wrong. if were an online music writer, i know i wouldn’t want to interact with them.

    • I should also say that by escaping from “typical comment baggage”, she is giving herself a chance to make art that is more honest, and that can deal with issues like sexuality more honestly, because she is attempting to start from a position which is free from assumptions. I guess the music does have sexuality, but I would not say that it is a particularly female sexuality; which I’m not sure if there’s a word for, but I guess asexuality will do as a way of describing not a lack of sexuality but an abstracted and genderless sexuality … ok.

  21. This column fails because it doesn’t address Grimes’ music but the general reaction to it as perceived by Julianne Shepherd. Tumblr, elfish qualities, self-negation–these are characteristics less of the music than of the discussion of it to this point. And because people like it each for their own reasons–I personally love it because I think it perfectly describes a very stoic, adult kind of melancholy, particularly on side B–the oversimplification Julianne commits by addressing that general conception rings hollow.

    • The column doesn’t fail because it’s not what you wanted it to be! Ha ha holy moley. “This taco fails because it’s not a burrito”

      • I was referring to all the criticism of it above. A lot of people reacted strongly and negatively to it, and I was guessing as to why–which, to reiterate, I think is because JES isn’t engaging with the music but with the talking points surrounding it, which aren’t really relevant to most of us as listeners.

        • I think you’re still wishing you had a burrito. The article doesn’t engage with the music because it’s not an article about the music, but about the talking points. That’s the article.

          • Maybe I do want a burrito. Writing about the problems with why people like something (which necessarily involves generalizing) without engaging with the thing itself does seem to me a pretty cynical, uninteresting approach.

          • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • I see that you’ve gone through the various comments and made sure to support the initial argument made by the writer of the column repeatedly and I would otherwise think that saying, “This taco fails because it’s not a burrito” would be both a clever and relevant response if the main issue with the article itself wasn’t that the writer is complaining about exactly the same thing. Someone made and album and the person “reviewing” it believes that the persona of the artist should fall under the terms that she herself believes a female artist should fall under. I don’t think that Grimes is caught under these generalities or is living in a vacuum. I do, however, believe that the author’s concepts of what she should be doing do.

        • No, I just read enough of it (all of it) to recognize that it wasn’t a review of the album or her music.

          • The point remains that Sheperd seems to have her own ideas about what a woman and artist should represent and seems to label Grimes’ work a failure because she doesn’t meet that very personal, yet generalized perspective. It’s not a review of the quality of her music or album, you’re right. The problem is that it’s not really an article about the talking points either, because the talking points aren’t as much of a preexisting issue as they are her own creation. Instead, it’s an attack launched from her own projected ideas about Grimes’ intentions, that of her listeners and the blogosphere as a whole. Sheperd manufactures one specific personal idea at a time, but takes little ownership of the fact that they’ve been self manufactured. She places those viewpoints on Grimes, her fanbase, or the blogging community. Then she hyper-analyzes each one, but she never really makes a larger solid case for anything overall.

            If your intention is to imply that I didn’t read the entire (fairly short) article, because I don’t agree with it’s approach or the sentiments within it, then you can go fuck yourself. It’s condescending and you’ve been doing that throughout the entire comment section. You’re a little too excited about your own voice and not inviting of those that don’t entire receive this post in the same manner that you do. This not only explains why you seem to feel it necessary to support the author so vehemently, but also shows that you have little respect for the opinions of others which, in essence, is the primary purpose of this new column and the only redeeming aspect of this article: to create discussion. How do I know that you’ve been bouncing around trying to take shots at people that have opposing viewpoints and making implications that you’re the only one who read the impressive 3 paragraphs that form this “article” throughout the comment section? Because, like the post, I’ve read the entire thing.

          • I completely agree with your points about the article’s failings, as well as your below essay. It is weird for you though, to tell me to go fuck myself and tell me I’m excited about the sound of my own voice considering how much you wrote though. I comment here a lot. Of course I like my own voice. It’s mine. It’s awesome. It’s the best voice I’ve ever heard. Anyways you make good points. But chill out. I’m not complaining about “opposing viewpoints or opinions” Some people are just dicks. When you say shit like calling the author “A fake intellectual” or “Doubt I’d do Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, even if she’s bangable.” or call out the author’s taste in music that is completely irrelevant to the article….seriously. Shut up, dude.

          • Saying that this article “wasn’t a review of the album or her music” is kind misleading. Comparable to saying a burrito “wasn’t a bunch of cheese.” Technically true, but cheese was definitely in there. Technically this is not a review of the album or her music, but, besides a couple of unnecessarily meandering and explicitly derisive descriptions of various aspects of the music (“fairly rudimentary beat”), we have things like:

            “Rife with pastiche and a requisite analog vibe, her album’s as Tumblrfied as Jeremy Scott’s A/W 2012 line”


            “I don’t like the music” (my personal favorite)

            So there’s definitely some sort of a review of both the album and the music in there. And, I think the fact that this is actually quite easily mistakable for a music review (because, in part, it is) only highlights how convoluted yet undeveloped the treatment of what the author thinks are the talking points. And anyways, the introduction seems to think it is a treatment of the “gender aesthetic” of Grimes. This article tries to do a lot of things. (and achieves none of them)

          • I disagree. I think we’ve been trained in this day and age to believe that a review is a SCORE of a recording. That an individual’s personal taste is requisite to hold an opinion of an album.

            The second Julianne expresses that Grimes’ music isn’t her cup of tea, it stop being a review. You don’t review food (I’m just one big food analogy I guess) by saying “I hate tomatoes so I didn’t like the pizza place. D minus.” Well you could I guess, but that’s a shitty review. Unless you also hate tomatoes.

          • I’ll apologize for telling you to go fuck yourself, but at least I prefaced it with “If your intention is to imply that I didn’t read the entire article..”

            I may have misinterpreted your above comment of “No, I just read enough of it (all of it)…” so, again, I’m sorry, because I didn’t want to jump the gun.

            Honestly, that implication is the only thing that I truly disagree with, myself. You’ve made repeated comments throughout the comment section to engage in the conversation and I wrote one huge posts, so I will concede to that as well. I knew that my admittedly super long post was a reaction to what I’ve read in the comment section and, by that note, felt like I was engaging in the conversation. I just felt that any potential idea that I that I didn’t read it was dismissive, insulting, and wouldn’t have evolved any conversation, but rather would have been an example of not respecting any other outside veiwpoint. I also see that you haven’t entirely agreed with everything stated by Sheperd either. I like the idea of the column because it creates discussion and I pretty much despise anything that limits or shuts that down. I also believe that it’s ignorant to attack Sheperd strictly on the basis that her article was well written. Others have definitely done that here, but perhaps it offended them because it was paired with implications about Grimes’ own lack of maturity. Whether they presented those ideas productively or not, is debatable.

            I do still believe that Jake’s original comment above might hold value, where he says, “This column fails because it doesn’t address Grimes’ music but the general reaction to it as perceived by Julianne Shepherd.” While you perhaps saw the part where he claims that the article “fails” because it “…doesn’t address Grimes’ music but the general reaction to it” I think that I primarily focused in more on the part that said, “…as perceived by Julianne Shepherd.”

          • Dude, you’re getting your commentors mixed up. C.R.A. is not the one who said he wouldn’t do Sheperd and who called her a fake intellectual.

          • No, I know who I’m talking about. I wasn’t accusing him of saying those things. I meant “you” referring to people I had responded to, which C.R.A felt I was knocking for having “Opposing viewpoints” which is completely inaccurate. Anyways. This thread sucks. I’m out! See you in the next comment bait article.

  22. I thought you did an excellent job, Julianne. Clever and concise.

  23. I feel like this was an interesting idea for an article, but ultimately you didn’t back up your statements with much explanation or evidence. I would have really loved a in-depth investigation on gender theory and her relation to it, but I feel like instead I just got a over-done review of the artist.

  24. The problem with the insight “Boucher seems perfectly manufactured from this cyber ether” is that appearances and blog posts notwithstanding, she obviously wasn’t and using that as a point of frustration oir analysis (conveniently) sidesteps the fact that she’s just a person. A young, artsy, perhaps studied person — one of many who grew up with the internet everywhere, youtubes and wiki entries at hand, with the 80s distantly behind and taken for granted (from the perspective of someone who didn’t actually live in them). I don’t think coming off as robotic or of the “ether” means terribly much in the case of this music. Rather, I think it “means” that the artist in question is using the tools and media of her age to make music which, at its worst, is “of the moment”. Somewhat similar to, say, 90% of all pop stars ever. I was pleasantly surprised by Grimes, which is not the same as saying I am a fan or expect to really enjoy stuff she does in the future. But then again, I might– that has a lot less to do with her sources or “manufactured” imagery than it does with the quality of her songs, and the statements she makes….again, similar to most pop (or non-pop) artists ever.

    • I totally agree. I also suspect the author here is heavily influenced by her large scale exposure to blogs, tumblr etc. Someone who isn’t knee deep in tumblr culture would have a very different perception of Grimes. Kind of like how one’s opinion of an artist changes once they start getting a lot of radio play.

  25. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • I don’t think you read the article nor do I think you understood the case it was making.

    • 2 point: saying “average music listener”
      1 point: use of word “pretentious”
      1 points: for general air of musical taste superiorty
      3 points: (1.5 each) for putting down both Spin and Billboard as credentials
      2 points: saying “aging and generally irrelevant thirty somethings”
      1 point: for mention of Pitchfork

      You’re pretty close to winning. Keep it up.

      *brought to you by the JJ Award for Music Blog Dickishness (comments)

  26. Whatever, I may not be Grimes’ biggest fan but I am so damn glad she exists. Let her be who she is. how many electronic female musicians are there again getting attention? A handful. Count the men against that. Consider that. This lady is putting out her third record. Good thing she is not out there being “sexy” there are enough female artists doing that already. Why do we females have to always be judged on sexuality. GO GRIMES. I admit I really wanted to like her music and album but didn’t. It’s too distant for me, and emotionally disconnected, but that’s just my taste I’m not going around thinking Grimes has to be *my* idea of what a musician has to be. She’s herself, producing her own music. People are going after her now ever since she’s signed to 4AD. That’s called *jealousy*.

    “Vanessa” is a truly brilliant song but so far the new ones aren’t, but so what, she’s another role-model that says you don’t have to be “sexy” to be making music as a female. I’m behind her 100%

  27. I don’t see the asexual, robot over human dichotomy at all. Be A Body, Skin, Vowels = space time are all about the physical, sex, and tapping into her woman hood. I hear less soul less Wikipedia and more of a girl writing in her journal. The party is over, she’s alone in her bed. A similar scene to so many singer song writers before her. She is just using computers and video game noises rather than acoustic guitars and analog.

  28. Since Grimes is a person, I feel like it’s Grimes’s choice whether to be sexy (or use the DARK ARTS OF WOMAN) or not. Insert Jay-Z quote dot Jay-peg.

  29. Cool comments everyone. Glad to know some of us are all taking thoughtful music criticism painfully seriously to the point of being science fact that can be easily dismissed by taking potshots at writing style and credentials instead of actual content.

    • I was waiting for a fellow fair voice of rationality to finally arrive in here, djfreshié.

      • Well, it’s almost as if everyone read to the 2nd paragraph, saw that Julianne didn’t like Grimes’ music, and didn’t bother to read the rest. But instead of just dismissing it, insisted on writing completely insane internet comments irrelevant to the point of the piece.

        Here, everyone: On the other hand, her elevation been a case study in the values people consign to the music they love — in this case, thin representations of ideas, that people have praised her for her “naive” and “elf-like” qualities, as though by filtering her voice into wispiness to the point that she’s almost a specter (as she does), she becomes more admirable, a negation of herself

        This is what the author is talking about. She is talking about how the blogosphere perceives Grimes’ sound and persona. It is not a critique of the record. So if you’re complaining about the unfairness of the author’s critique of Grimes’ music or the record, shut the fuck up.

        • And that’s exactly where it falls over for me. I love Grimes because she made an ace record of music that I find exciting and, at times, beautiful.

          The author is trying to tell me that I love Grimes because she exists as a personification of the online/offline gap, a gap that so confuses me, and she is a pure white guiding light in the grey haze of asexuality and the self-referential loops of cyber culture, a false siren that will desert me forever when the Santigold album drops.

          Occam’s razor anyone?

          • That’s a totally fair argument, which I actually agree with. I don’t actually agree with the author at all. But some commenters seem to not have even read it at all, which makes me way more frustrated than the piece because at least Julianne put thought into her position (which happens to be wrong on many fronts, in my own opinion.)

            That anyone could be actually offended by it, however, is cuckoo.

          • Why can’t I reply to freshie? No button :(

            Anyway cool, I’ve misunderstood a little and made my point in slightly the wrong place. I’ve got no problems with the actual writing of it and I’m glad this thing is now a thing. Hopefully the well-reasoned comments outshine the rest in the end. Also world peace and a new OutKast album.

  30. Umm, am I the only one who thinks Grimes is extremely sexy?

  31. Funny, I never ever would have thought as Grimes or her music as “asexual.” I find both sexy as hell.

  32. The offer is appreciated, but I think I’ll stick with Purity Ring.

  33. This I must admit upfront: Grimes, having been a blog darling for a while, is subject to malignant compartmentalization. Much like how some publications treated Games and Toro y Moi as if they are adequately summarized by a number of generic descriptors (1980s, faded memory, vintage, nostalgia, VHS, etc.) strung together in any order, media discussion about Grimes can be, to put it gently, limited to a specific form. Shepherd comments that Grimes is “a product of her own environment – all of our environments.” I will assume it is self-evident that Ms. Shepherd is also a product of her environment; this article consists of familiar socio-musical observations given form by haphazardly observed commonalities in the popular understanding of the idea that is Grimes. Shepherd ostensibly enters this discussion with a fully-formed idea that Clare Boucher dreams of being a machine. And, in a seemingly intentionally insulting manner, tries to tell us that we do too.

    The argument falls apart once we give it careful observation. In the first paragraph, Shepherd expects the “gestural narrative behind Boucher’s project” and “the actual sound of the music” to compute – and of course she finds that they come up short. Let us first observe that most music criticism is nonsense (which is not to say that there is no merit in it). The idea that music can “sound like” something like Wikipedia mysticism (there are tons of possible examples, I only use Shepherd’s words because they are on hand) is akin to think something along the lines of “my hat sounds like 2.” Discussion of music and even more so our relation to it inherently lies outside of logical space; things do not and cannot “compute” when it comes to music. Still, technicalities aside, the fatal flaw of this article is that it is unable to adequately identify Boucher’s artistic intentions or the even generally adopted shorthand used to discuss Boucher’s work.
    So, back to where I started: Shepherd ostensibly believes that Boucher’s only intention for Grimes is to wind up digitized and asexual. Shepherd claims that Bjork addresses tension between humanity and the internet while Boucher does not. I believe that Boucher does present such tension, mostly in the lyrics. Shepherd’s reading and commentary is remarkably selective: Shepherd makes absolutely no mention or reference to any lyric on the album, in fact I do not think it unreasonable that a reader unfamiliar with Grimes’ music might be led to assume it relies on glossolalia. I will employ the most frequently quoted lyrics off of Visions: “soft skin, you touch me with it and so I know I can be human again.” There is indeed the presence of, to quote Shepherd, “computer-ether” – but it is grounded and contrasted with some profoundly corporeal (and, more specifically, human) concerns. Song titles like “Be a Body” and “Skin” alone are enough to suggest this. I found it telling that Shepherd chose to render the song I know as “Infinite ♡ Without Fulfillment (intro)” as “Infinite Love Without Fulfillment” – as if removing the anatomical reference negates the emotion. Perhaps it seems, while all I seek to do is evoke contrast, that I am perhaps positing “emotional” as the polar opposite of “digital.” I do find that there is tension and contrast between the two adjectives, and it is this tension that Shepherd either misses or choose to ignore.
    Shepherd goes on to postulate that Grimes pursues asexuality. However, we have (from the same Pitchfork interview that Shepherd quoted) the following from Boucher herself: “But music is an inherently sexual thing. If something sexual is going to be expressed, it’s going to be in my music.” I find that it is expressed, in various ways, in Grimes. Shepherd posits a few female artists that “tap into their womanhood and sexuality as a source of power, what some might say THE DARK ARTS OF WOMANNESS.” I am completely bewildered as to whether the unanimously-capitalized phrase is a jab at what Shepherd assumes is a predominantly male audience or a call to arms or a glorified typo. Regardless, while it is hard to call Grimes overtly sexual, the music (and words!) comes from a person who clearly has an understanding and comfort with their own sexuality. Boucher even explicitly bemoans indie asexuality (again in the same Pitchfork article that Shepherd quotes), the institution that Shepherd files Grimes under. “Music is an inherently sexual thing.”
    At one point in the article, Shepherd accuses Grimes of following a “strange binary of robot vs. person, of good vs. evil.” This binary is a construct of Shepherd’s. The words taken as pairs contrast with each other, but the pairs taken as analogies show Shepherd’s error. For Shepherd, there is no middle ground. You are either Bjork fondling Story of the Eye-inspired eggs while extolling Venus as a boy, or you are Clare Boucher with a chastity ring on every finger and toe. You are either Mariah Carey being Mariah Carey, or Clare Boucher aspiring to “unattainable purity that doesn’t register on an emotional level.” You are either Julianne Shepherd or a white dude on the internet clamoring over the newest musical fad of thinly represented ideas. Because remember: the purpose of this article is to tell us that we do not know what to look for in music, that Grimes’ popularity is because of pedophiliac obsession over her “naive” or “elf-like” qualities.
    If the purpose of this article is to comment on Grimes’ reception, then it fails because of its willing ignorance of how Grimes has been received.
    If the purpose of this article is to comment on Grimes’ music, then it fails because of its willing ignorance of what Grimes’ music represents and how it was accomplished.
    If the purpose of this article is to do both of the above, then it fails because the simultaneous presentation of both comments does not somehow validate the entire presentation while both comments are failures.
    “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

    • Meant to give this stupid behemoth of a post a bit more formatting, sorry!

      You don’t have to read the whole thing.

      Also, I do think this feature is a good idea and I look forward to weekly editions.

      I use some rather insulting language, which was rather immature.

  34. Funny thing this comes up today. I just saw Grimes in Phoenix last night. I’ll say that she isn’t a very strong performer, especially following her opening act, Born Gold, who take performance art to an entirely different level, but her songs were strong enough to cover for her performance. I don’t mind that her work is derivative. What artist isn’t right now? She’s at least taking a novel approach by skewering ’80s teen pop, K-pop, synthpop, and a number of other genres that people are unwilling to touch.

    Serious note, though. She has a surprisingly annoying bro contingent following her. I get that bros want to dance when they’re tripping on whatever shitty drugs they bought. But please let the rest of us enjoy the show, too. Mosh pits weren’t meant for synthpop.

    • At a house show in Memphis, I got my lip busted because some bros were moshing during a twee pop band. True story.

    • for realsies on born gold. why don’t they get more internet hype? one of my top 2011 discoveries.

      • Their music isn’t that strong. They’re a much better live band, which is why I think the hype machine is slow to get behind them. They don’t have any songs that are easily digested as a single blogs can endlessly bicker about. They’re the sort of band you have to experience in a live setting to be blown away. But yeah, when you see them live, it’s crazy. I think they’re second only to Dan Deacon in my craziest live show experiences.

        • i’ve heard about the live epicness, and really wanted to go to the SF grimes show to check them out (goddamn wednesday shows, man). but i dunno, i happen to like their music quite a bit, too. so much madness goes on in those songs, but they stay pretty sunny and melodic. good stuff.

          • Tron jackets, stilts-walking, and hockey mask percussion are only a few of the many, many weird experiences your senses will be bombarded with. Epic doesn’t begin to describe it.

  35. i think this is just a fantastic idea for a regular article. really elevates the content of stereogum…bravo! and thank you!

  36. Grimes sound appears to be heavily indebted to freestyle music:

    Freestyle was never cool in the 1980s and hasn’t been swept up by much 80s revival, but it is good stuff.

    • HAHA! Freestyle was huge in San Antonio in the 80′s, and it had a huge return in the “indie dance” scene a few years ago…doesn’t anybody remember Uffie?

  37. Cool column
    (I don’t agree)

  38. As for the idea of a column, I think that it’s a good idea. I don’t read too many blogs and none of them regularly. I feel that the internet age as a whole has become lazy, focused on immediacy and that to create the instant gratification necessary for it, a lot of information is poorly researched and inaccurate. People don’t take the time to formulate well constructed opinions or to even give the material that they’re supposed to be reviewing enough time to unfold and reveal itself. It’s a huge electronic landfill full of outdated information about upcoming album art and tracklists with names of songs that we haven’t even heard yet. For that reason, longer form pieces with genuine analysis are welcomed by me and I think that it’s important to have some sort of material like this out there. As for this particular article itself, I’m not really a fan.

    I have my own site where I write plenty of lengthy (possibly, self-indulgent) pieces analyzing music and art. My readership will never reach the level of a Stereogum because that sort of traffic comes with the quick turnaround, high content approach of sites that actually yield income. I’d like to state that out of those sites that do make money and have a large readership, Stereogum is probably one of the better ones that I’ve seen, actually providing some solid information and mixing in enough subject matter that interests me in with the filth that doesn’t. In my own personal reviews, I’m more interested if something is “legit” or not, knowing that “good” and “bad” ideas of art are subjective. Of course, this is still just more dancing about architecture, after all. There are things that I want to find out as an individual, though. Is this just a marketing ploy? Does it just feel like a giant Pepsi logo or does it feel like an actual piece of art or a creation with some soul in it? Is there something behind it or is it just another album that I already have, but worse? Is the artist(s)’ intentions real? Does it work either way? Success is based on the level manifestation of an original intention for someone creating something. Sometimes, it can even become it’s own entity when it veers into something else. Do I believe that Grimes’ intention is pure? Sure. Believe it or not, I actually do. Do I believe that the author writing this reviews intentions are pure? That’s a little less solid to determine, but I do believe that she is reaching for the best story and the best angle. As a writer, her piece is her art and deserves to be critiqued just as much as the subjects that she writes about. I do believe that some of this the writing is a bit bloated, but that goes along with my own ignorance of Grimes being a viable issue to discuss on this level in the first place.

    Seeing that I have my own site, I receive a generous amount of press releases in my inbox, asking me to review something, go to shows, and/or download/checkout an album, etc. I live in Seattle and Grimes was coming to a really small venue out here. I’d never heard of her. I was offered a spot for the show that was, apparently, filling up quickly. I downloaded the album that they sent me and watched a couple of videos- one of which was an interview. I didn’t take them up on the offer for the show, because I had prior personal engagements and didn’t know if I’d even be in town. The show did eventually sell out though. I listened to the album. It was alright. I gave it a few chances as I drove around over the next few weeks and it grew on me. Her voice, not unlike Joanna Newsom’s, began with a somewhat grating and questionable tone, only to morph into a much smoother sound leaving me questioning where the off-pitch quality had dissipated to. It has not developed into something as impressive as Joanna’s body of work yet, however. I like this new Grimes album. I think it’s an enjoyable effort and I’m the type of persona who’s much more incline to listen to a old Krautrock music, Blues Control, Townes Van Zandt, Bill Callahan, The Melvins, Mikal Cronin, Cave, Death Grips, or any number of other types of music that are much less poppy. Even in her interview, Grimes talks about loving pop-stars. She talks about the idea of being like one, except that she would be able to produce her own music. This is my only knowledge of her as an artist. The interview, the press release, and the actual album, which I’ve listened to quite a few times. I knew nothing of her internet presence (I came here to read an old Kevin Barnes writeup about being a sell-out and found this link). Although I did expect her to eventually gain one, I’m not always correct about the time it will take for these things to mature into yielding attention (see NURSES from Portland, Oregon). As a person with little knowledge of her growing fame, I found little connection to this article and what I’ve perceived and continue to perceive about Grimes as an individual, an artist, or the intentions of this individual/artist.

    My issues with this piece aren’t with Sheperd’s viewpoints or tastes regarding the music. Neither do they stem from her wording, passion, writing ability, or even her need to criticize the craze being generated behind Grimes. I feel that an article reviewing Grimes’ work and giving it a negative review are completely justified, if someone is not a fan of it. That, after all, is the critic’s job. If she believes that the praise being garnered is unjustified, I feel that an article about that is also just as relevant. Attack the bloggers for missing the point and over-hyping a mediocre talent. Grimes’ work is far from my favorite current music out there and isn’t landing on any best of lists that I’m creating -even if I believed in “best of” lists and created them. Attack those lazy writers. My issues come from Sheperd’s focus being incredibly misguided. This isn’t an album review or an attack on the media hype. Instead, it’s a misdirected hybrid that attacks Grimes for the opinions of others about her, while the writer continues to create personal inflated opinions of her own. This artist never championed themselves on the ideals of being revolutionary or marketed herself as a strong woman that stood for anything. She herself has claimed that she loves pop music and wants to make it. For me, the article is offensive because it is written by a woman from the perspective of a woman about how other women should be acting. It’s written from the perspective of a woman implying that her opinions about other woman and holding them to her own personal concepts about how they should act is empowering to her gender as opposed to suffocating and repressing it. The problem with feminist movements or any similar movement can be that it sinks itself with it’s own lofty idealism. The main issues with racism, sexism, or any -ism is that certain groups are being singled out and treated differently. Pride is essential, but when someone identifies themselves strictly by those differences and nothing beyond, it seems unrealistic to expect anyone else to identify them differently. I have friends that are lesbians, etc. but those friends are people that happen to be lesbians, or black, or older, or… whatever. Those aren’t what make them people, it’s one aspect of them. This idea that, as a female, Grimes should push that element into the forefront of her image and generalize herself or identify herself primarily with those concepts that you attribute to what makes a female artists is counterproductive, because it doesn’t broaden the idea of a womanhood, it actually limits and confines it. It forms a box and feeds on prejudice. It doesn’t liberate anybody or any group.

    Each female artist should be responsible for adopting specific predetermined empowering subject matter and a specific image? Really? That’s bullshit. The feeling of this article, for me, is that it complains about an artist existing in a vacuum, while the actual position of the author seems to be that Grimes isn’t exhibiting herself within a box that the writer has created for such artists. Sheperd’s concepts of what a female artist should be or what a current electronic artist should be seem to what exist in a vacuum and her problem deals with Grimes not existing within it. It seems hypocritical and unjustified in general. “Why doesn’t that black man sing about the ghetto? Why is he writing songs about normal every day shit? We rely on those people to give us the perspective of people that are from there. Not as individuals with individual ideas that are personal to themselves.”

    There’s an old Tupac quote that is something to the effect of. “I only know how to be responsible for what I do I don’t know how to be responsible for what every black man did.” Does Grimes make any sentiments that deep? Probably not, but the point is that she’s not trying to. Is Stereogum’s disclaimer interesting? Sure, because it points out that people are responsible for their own opinions in this column. Sheperd, however, seems to tout her own opinions about her own intelligence and knowledge in an effort to attack Grimes for not being pretentious or political enough and only comes across as pretentious to so many of the readers commenting. For those upset that this is article is not a critique on the music, it’s easy enough to claim that it isn’t supposed to be. But what is it then? She tries to play both sides of the coin, attacking the music without support and then attacking the artist without support. There’s support for her own feelings about what Grimes is not and attack on the blogging community as a whole, but the attacks are misdirected and, while this is supposed to be a personal piece, there’s a heavy attempt to support it with much broader concepts and sell it as an analysis that is proven by outside sources other than her own individual opinions.

    Someone above felt that Sheperd’s approach was a little misguided and received the response from another commenter that joked, “The column doesn’t fail because it’s not what you wanted it to be! Ha ha holy moley. ‘This taco fails because it’s not a burrito’ ” That would be a valid point, if that wasn’t actually the problem with the author’s entire article in the first place. Grimes is not a burrito and people still like it. Sorry. You can take ownership for your feelings or you can support them with outside sources, but nothing in here really supports the projections made on Grimes intentions as an artist and, in turn, it doesn’t really make a case for if she is successful or otherwise. Without that, it doesn’t really make a case for if the attention that she is receiving is even warranted or not.

    • this pretty much says what I wanted to say, but didn’t feel like taking the time to really think through and articulate.

      • I completely agreed with your comment above. This article definitely seems to represent more about the author as an individual than it does about the subject as an individual. I also agree that this is still a good idea for a column, overall.

    • That was actually worth reading.

    • I’m glad I can read.

      Chris, please put a link to your Web site in your profile. I’m interested in reading more.

      • Thanks. I haven’t commented on here enough to realize that there was a “profile” that I could modify at all. Unfortunately, while it’s allowed me to add the facebook and twitter accounts of my site, it doesn’t seem to retain the actual link to my site that I keep entering into the appropriate field.
        ( )

    • “As a person with little knowledge of her growing fame, I found little connection to this article and what I’ve perceived and continue to perceive about Grimes as an individual, an artist, or the intentions of this individual/artist.”

      As someone who uses this site frequently, but not thoroughly or religously, and does not read many other blogs, I have said some variation of this same thing to myself a lot of times. There is a lot to say about music and the blogosphere hidden in the line from your comment quoted above. Music has always been beholden to its context and the personalities of those who make it, but now this seems completely out of hand. I try to be strong-minded, but its damn near impossible to separate yourself from the shit load of hype and commentary and bickering about music (especially music that has been around for less than a year), before you give it a full listen. If I could labotomize myself to remove the “knowledge of her growing fame” before hearing a new artist, I’d seriously consider it. Picture me with headphones and a power drill in an homage to the closing scenes of Pi.

      P.S. – I still love music criticism (I’m here arent I), I think I’m just fucking overwhelmed.

      btw, enjoyed your comment (article?)

      • It’s almost ironic that the fact that I get so many updates and emails regarding so many different artists and projects is the main reason that I can completely miss what’s happening with them or overlook the hype surrounding them. Eventually, if it grows enough, it will be inevitable but I think that I’m overwhelmed myself. It can be too much. I was genuinely surprised to find this post, because I was completely oblivious to the fact that so many other people were aware of her already. So many, to the point that this is the 2nd most commented on post currently on Stereogum.

        I just went back to see when I received the contact about Grimes coming to town and it was back on January 23rd for a show on February 20th. In the email it references her “critically acclaimed full-length” that wouldn’t even be officially released until the day following the show (February 21st). Critically acclaimed a month before it’s release. The article above appeared exactly 1 week after the release date. Everything happens at an accelerated rate these days. Your albums been out a week and there are already articles about how your time should be up.

  39. Pretentious masturbatory gibberish. Dot gif.

  40. Once you accept the evolution of music and that corporeal is translatable to more computer-centric production then you can relax and just listen to the music.

    Grimes is an artist who is growing and evolving and I am excited to watch her grow. Listen to Halfaxa then see where you come up for air.

    The whole “blog darling” categorization is condescension at it’s purest. There are more and more venues to review and enjoy music in this broad new terrain called the internet and that is why a Canadian, gritty siren’s, music is available to the masses. That is why there is such buzz and the subject of this frustrating op-ed.

    That said, I like this new column.

    • I agree. The problem is, blogs, like this one and the informal tumblrs that are so quickly available with a simple tumblr tag search, need their own language- their own review style. They’re borrowing from old school literary critiques on aesthetics and using biography to define and predict the movements of an artist, even going so far as applying the visual and figurative symbols an artist uses to some kind of standard. But maybe those things don’t apply to the new world of constant bombardment of new music? Pitchfork giving her BNM doesn’t mean anything, really, nor does our criticism of their BNM or anything about Grimes. I think what matters most is that now reviewers and listeners are on the same page, well, internet page, which is a reference to an old format: the magazine, which costs too much money now because nobody has jobs because they’re all out of the country and the world hates us (remember, everything is upside down these days). Reviewers need to realize that opening up this two way portal reveals not only new outlets to influence others with reviews and new content, but that music listeners are more frivolous, uncaring, and quick to judge more than ever because of the availability of other content. They not only have the power of the reviewing authority, but they have access to all the music the reviewer listens to and their own personal library of references. So what if you make a “good point?” There are a million little things to distract from some big, tough, mature take of yours. Blogs need to ditch the long-form and realize this is all a big joke, this trying to apply real critique to internet phenomena. Between the trolls, the naive indie cheerleaders, and the stiff, grown up men of the old, critical form who inevitably “cut the girl some slack,” there’s a lot of room for interpretation and variable, and the facts are that we’re selling out our indie music audience to the lowest common denominator in the same exact trend the rest of North America is taking. This isn’t time to pontificate and dwell on facts, it’s time to create chaos and see what happens.

  41. HEY I thought this was great. The kind of substantiative criticism the internet needs more of. I hope this doesn’t get killed off by angry commenters like Brandon’s old “second opinion”-type column (can’t remember the name of it)

  42. Disagree with this, but it’s well written, so good job. keep it going, anyway.

  43. Grimes played tonight where I live, but it was a 21+ show so I couldn’t go and I’m pissed.
    However, thought this was a interesting article, albeit one i disagreed with. I thought Visions was a really good album. Goodnight y’all

  44. fartnuggets!!

  45. did you read all of that? dang.

  46. This is good. But c’mon – it deconstructs the blogosphere’s projection of Grimes, the person/idea, but doesn’t really tackle the substance of the music. Seems like the greater agenda was showcasing shamelessly abstract, emotionally-fed “creative writing”…(yes, it’s good, obviously). Anyone can agree that Grimes’ popularity is hugely inflated by ideas of who she is or the things we associate with her, but… assertions about the (robot/pixie/whatever) persona of Grimes ought to be balanced out with some real reportage on the music before summarily dismissing her popularity.

  47. crabtron  |   Posted on Mar 6th, 2012 +1

    For me, Grimes definitely registers on an emotional level. And that comes from the purity of the actual sound of her music–nor is this purity “unattainable” for her. As soon as her voice kicks in on Genesis, I’m captivated. I don’t know what the lyrics are, but for me, lyrics are rarely where the main emotional value of a song lies. I mean, “All is Full of Love,” one of my all-time favorite songs, has beautiful lyrics, to be sure. But the lyrics are nothing compared with what Bjork conveys through the pure sound of her voice; the most powerful line in that song for me is the one in Icelandic, and I have no clue what it means; it’s just the way she sings it, there’s an unmistakable emotional release. And I get the same effect from Grimes’ music. Of course, the emotional power of a song is something that can be particularly subjective, so I can’t argue with someone who just doesn’t connect with the music. I guess my point is merely that “purity” can be emotional, whether it transcends–or stays rooted within–the human realm. Also, it’s just unfair to compare any rising artist to someone on Bjork’s level.

  48. crabtron  |   Posted on Mar 7th, 2012 0

    It’s also hard to say whether Grimes owes it to her female contemporaries to “tap into [her] womanhood and sexuality as a source of power.” Empowerment of this sort is important, but is it not also empowering to blur gender lines and create music that is both asexual and emotionally resonant? Grimes’ melodic aesthetics remind me of Burial’s to some extent, and we shouldn’t limit the discussion to just comparing her to other female artists. Burial does achieve far more vocal androgyny with his pitch-shifted samples, and his frantic, shuffling beats limit any potential sexiness in his music, yet I don’t think many would complain about that. Grimes’ beats are where the true sexiness of her music lies, though she doesn’t really pitch-down her obviously feminine voice, either.

    It could be argued that analyzing her music through a non-female lens loses the empowerment of her gendered identity, that comparing her to the normalized sphere of male artists assimilates this identity in a negative way. But I feel that any artist can embody both male and female desire at the same time, as Burial does, and that this blurring of lines is itself empowering. Sexiness shouldn’t have to be so rigidly gendered. I don’t really feel that “Lykke Li and Fever Ray and Bat For Lashes and even fellow blog star Charli XCX,” even occupy the same aesthetic spheres as each other, let alone Grimes (though I’m a big fan of those artists). They only thing they all have in common is that they’re women.

    Interesting article, though. Hopefully I made something resembling a coherent response in my comments here.

  49. I thought the article was pretty good. I appreciated seeing an alternative opinion of Grimes, because there’s plenty of diehard fans who will bash anyone who doesn’t especially enjoy her music or her persona. I don’t know how I feel about Grimes. I like her music. I wouldn’t say I really love it, but it’s nice to listen to. I’ve listened to some of her interviews though and I don’t know why she keeps saying she doesn’t like to be “sexy.” Sure, she doesn’t prance around in her undies onstage, but she released rings shaped like vaginas. I don’t have any problem with vaginas. But to wave one around on your finger? That seems like a move for attention. I would think it equally silly if a popular male musician released a line of penis rings, and those would probably be less well received. Also there’s a photo of her sucking on a girl’s boob…I’d say that was meant to be “sexy.”

  50. I just saw Grimes three nights ago, a sold out show that delivered.
    apparently not everyone has bad taste.

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